Teachers are enthusiastic about outdoor hands-on experiential learning, but need more opportunities to learn how to integrate such learning into state mandated teaching requirements. The Texas Stream Team and H2O have teamed up to provide just this training. This has created a strong program that solidifies a unique and productive educational alliance between H2O and Texas Stream Team.
Texas Stream Team is a network of trained volunteers and supportive partners working together to gather information about the natural resources of Texas and to ensure the information is available to all Texans. Texas Stream Team focuses on training citizen to collect water quality information; on conducting nonpoint source pollution prevention outreach; and engaging citizens to participate in important decision-making processes with state agencies.
Established in 1991, Texas Stream Team is administered through a cooperative partnership between the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the River Systems Institute at Texas State University.
According to Jason Pinchback, Stream Team Director, “over 1,400 Texas Stream Team trained citizens collect water quality data on lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, bays, bayous, and estuaries in Texas. About 40% of Texas Stream Team monitoring groups are now teachers and their students. Educators find Texas Stream Team to be a valuable teaching tool that lends itself to cross-disciplinary instruction.”
By teaching students how to measure what is happening in the watershed, Texas Stream Team helps teachers effectively present the abstract concepts of aquatic biology, chemistry and ecology. With a broader understanding of water quality issues, students are better prepared to form solutions to environmental concerns.
Teachers who complete the three-phase training and become Certified Water Quality Monitors have two options for getting their students involved in Texas Stream Team monitoring. Students in grades K-12 as well as college students can monitor a body of water under a teacher’s supervision with activities based on the educational objectives of the class. A teacher who goes a step further and becomes a Certified Trainer can then train students (grades 6-12 and college) to become certified monitors. These students can then go on to form groups and monitor their own sites.
Students also have opportunities to continue monitoring with Stream Team after graduating high school. This helps lay a solid foundation for their next steps in life.
The first teacher workshop to be supported through the partnership with H2O will be in July in Corpus Christi.
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H2O (Headwaters to Ocean) is a cooperative project sponsored by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment at Texas State University and funding partner, the Ewing Halsell Foundation which supports the project H2O. H2O is an experiential, technology-enhanced education program focused on water, from headwaters to the ocean (https://www.water-texas.org)