It’s very easy to become disconnected to where our water comes from and what happens once we’re done with it. We turn on our taps and out it comes. We pull the plug and there it goes. But, contrary to what the conveniences of modern life have led us to believe, there’s much more to it than that.
Enter Know Your Watershed. This education program from the Columbia Basin Trust, administered and managed by Wildsight, sees amazing educators visit classrooms for sessions of all things water and takes students on full-day field trips into their local watersheds. Over the course of a few days, students learn first hand how their water gets from the mountains to the faucet—and the return journey down the pipes, through wastewater treatment and back into the water cycle.
And it is not just classroom sessions and field studies getting local youth connected to their watershed. Students from all around the Columbia Basin have been taking their watershed relationship even further by embarking on Student Action Projects and Deep Learning Projects that give back to—and get them more involved with—their very own communities. Here are some snapshots of just a few of the stewardship projects that took place this spring.
“Spring really is a perfect time to be out looking at issues that affect our water supply, and try to understand the complex variables that can change water quality, and water quantity in our local watersheds,” said Wildsight’s Know Your Watershed Coordinator Dave Quinn. And this season saw 26 classrooms from around the Columbia Basin—from Valemount to Trail to Sparwood and everywhere in between—doing just that.
This 7th year of Know Your Watershed was one of transition, with the program being updated alongside the revised BC curriculum and moving from Grade 8 to Grade 9. With some students getting a bonus year of watershed knowledge in their second year of the program, the topics were tailored to the individual classroom to avoid repetition. Some students learned about the one big watershed that we all live in—the Columbia River—and the 1964 Columbia River Treaty governing dams on both sides of the border for flood control and power generation. Some students learned, hands-on, about water quality monitoring and macroinvertebrates, those tiny creatures that live in our waterways, as indicators of stream health. Water cycles, our daily water use, and the challenges of wastewater treatment were all on the menu.
This combination of updated curriculum and returning faces, mixed in with some fresh hands-on action and learning projects, made for an exciting new season of Know Your Watershed throughout the Columbia Basin.