Monday, October 1, 2012

Columbia River Watershed Festival

Each year, around this time the Columbia River Watershed festival is held for students in Clark County Washington.  The Columbia River Fisheries Program Office (CRFPO), Clark County, City of Vancouver, Columbia Springs, and Clark PUD all contribute to making the event a success.  The event also depends on many other agencies and volunteers to give presentations or help in other ways.  Through games, songs, storytelling and hands on activities, students learn about watersheds, riparian zones, conservation, recycling and many other natural resource related topics.  This year the Columbia River Watershed Festival hosted 35 classes of 4th graders during the two day event.
Jen and Donna

The CRFPO (and partner Clark County Department of Environmental Services) developed a presentation and activity for the watershed festival that introduced students to the topic of aquatic nuisance species (ANS).  During the presentation we defined what it means to be an aquatic nuisance species (vs. native and non-native species), discussed where they originate from, how they are introduced, impacts they may have on the natural environment/economy/human health, and actions every person can take to prevent their further spread.  Next the students were introduced to ten ANS that threaten the lower Columbia River using photo’s, illustrations, and preserved specimen.  Throughout the presentation the students asked thoughtful questions and seemed genuinely engaged in the conversation.  Following the presentation we tested the student’s knowledge of ANS by playing a trivia game.  Students rolled giant foam dice and moved game pieces on a life size game board.  We were impressed by how much information the students retained from the presentation.  Students LOVED taking turns rolling the giant dice and the potential to steal points from another group if a question was answered incorrectly.  Several students deemed this activity the “best game ever” – a huge compliment for a learning activity!  We also received positive feedback from teachers as well.  All in all the ANS lesson and activity was a huge success!

Playing the game

The topic of aquatic nuisance species is very important.  The vast majority of ANS are spread into new water bodies as a direct result of human activities.  Whether intentionally or by accident, once an ANS is introduced and becomes established in a new ecosystem, it is very costly and difficult to control or eradicate them.  Often the best approach to preventing the introduction or further spread of ANS is to educate the public on the potential pathways of introduction and steps each person can take to stop the spread of ANS in their local community.  The CRFPO is developing an ANS education trunk that will introduce students to the Columbia River’s “Ten Tenacious Trespassers”.  The trunk will include among other things a teaching curriculum, posters, videos and preserved specimens.  We will be including a smaller version of the watershed festival game/activity in our ANS education trunk that will be made available to teachers and local environmental educators in the winter of 2013.
Jen teaching students about Hydrilla

 Submitted by Jen Poirier and Donna Allard

1 comment:

  1. What a great way to share AIS information with youth.