Friday, June 10, 2011

13th Annual Watershed Congress

The halls and classrooms at Washington State University in Vancouver were filled with eager students, educators, and community members. These were not college students though. They ranged from third-graders to 12th-graders and were at the college to attend the Watershed Congress.

For the past 13 years, over 20,000 citizen students have been monitoring Clark County lakes, rivers, streams, and storm waters. The Congress is the culminating event each year which brings students who are part of the Watershed Monitoring Network together with the community in evaluating changing watershed conditions in their neighborhoods from data collected during the school year. The Network targets education, discovery, and stewardship.

This year, over 200 students from 3rd to 12th grades representing 24 schools, 55 teachers and 3,000 students did 43 presentations about the sites they monitored. During the event, four presentations are given in a classroom after which community members and other students are encouraged to ask questions. After the presentations, the students discuss the health of their respective monitoring sites. Later students from different schools are grouped together and discuss various issues which may be affecting water quality at their monitoring sites. They then work with scientists and community members to offer solutions for the water issues they have identified throughout the year.

The day also has various fun components. Usually a local music group or act will perform. Students also submit and vote on photographs taken during their studies in different categories which can include: Comedy, Teamwork, and Fashion. Prizes are given for the winning photos as well.

This program is sponsored by the City of Vancouver Water Resources Education Center, Clark County Environmental Services: Clean Water Program, and Washington State University Vancouver Science Programs. It is made a success by countless of other agencies and community members.

Submitted by Donna Allard

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