Erosion and Sedimentation Education for Lake Erie Schools
On Lake Erie in Chautauqua Co., NY

Grantee: Chautauqua County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD)
Basin Program Funds: $17,475
Non-federal Funds: $15,133
Project Duration: 07/2001 - 11/2002
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Students do not always fully comprehend the impacts of land use upon streams they are accustomed to seeing each day. Merely reading about them in textbooks or newspapers does not always illustrate the causes and impacts of erosion and sedimentation upon surface water.

A portion of the science curriculum in Chautauqua County schools in the Lake Erie basin was to be dedicated to studying the effects of erosion and sedimentation on surface waters tributary to Lake Erie. It was hoped that students and possibly their parents would attain a heightened awareness of activities which may adversely affect the basin as a whole if best management practices are not followed and that they would take a more active role in protecting the watershed in which they live. The program was to introduce students to the idea of thinking in a watershed context by introducing them to the relationship between human activity and water quality. It was hoped that through hands-on involvement with stream monitoring, students will carry knowledge gained through this program throughout their lives, promulgating a clearer understanding and respect of their surroundings and the impact that their daily lives can have on surface waters.

Hire temporary staff for project coordination and public relations. Recruit at least seven teacher participants from local schools. Have one teacher register with GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment), a worldwide network of teachers, students and scientists working together, and attend a five-day workshop. Use GLOBE as a major tool for dissemination through reporting on the GLOBE website. Develop a watershed unit curriculum and a two-day training workshop for teachers. Have students get into the field to collect water quality data and monitor stream flow.

A series of press releases were distributed to local newspapers and radio stations during the course of this project to provide information to the public and highlight student activities. An informational meeting was held to introduce school district representatives to this program. Ten teachers from the seven school districts involved were chosen to participate in the program. A two-day teacher training workshop was held on July 31-Aug. 1, 2003. All ten teachers participated. During this workshop the Stream Monitoring Guidance Manuals, “Water, Water, Everywhere” education laboratories, macroinvertebrate monitoring equipment, and laminated topographic maps of the areas around their schools were distributed to the teachers. A Health Department employee met with each teacher to select an appropriate stream monitoring location near their school. Eight sites were selected on six streams.

Watersheds for each monitoring location were delineated and digitized into ArcView GIS?. These digitized watersheds were combined with USDA digital ortho-photographs and large-format (3’x 4’) watershed maps were printed, laminated and provided to each school for determining land use in their watersheds. The end-of-year student workshop was held at the Herbert C. Mackie College Lodge in Brocton, N.Y. Approximately 70 people attended, including 50 students, eight teachers, eight members of the County Water Quality Task Force (WQTF), the chairman of the county legislature, several interested citizens and members of the press. Seven groups of students made presentations about what they had learned from studying their streams. This was followed by a panel discussion by WQTF that compared and contrasted monitoring results and land uses between watersheds.

Contact: David Wilson, 716-664-2355


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