How I Use Project WET: Enabling Local Student Actions To Improve Water Resources

Sidney Post, Oregon Project WET Coordinator, in the woodsSidney Post, Oregon Project WET Coordinator High school students restore land badly damaged by fire. A middle school science club removes invasive weeds from a stream. One hundred forty freshmen plant trees along a creek and pond. What do these efforts have in common? They all started with water education.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Hydrologist Sidney Post has been a Project WET Coordinator in Oregon since 2013, and his workshops for teachers have helped catalyze these service projects in the southwestern Oregon town of Roseburg. We asked Sidney to tell us how he uses the Project WET Guide 2.0 activities as well as Wonders of Wetlands (WOW) and Healthy Water Healthy People (HWHP) to encourage not only water awareness but also community restoration.

High school students from Roseburg, OR restored a fire-damaged creek areaHigh school students from Roseburg, OR restored a fire-damaged creek area Project WET Foundation (PWF): How have Project WET/HWHP/WOW trainings played a role in the development of these projects?

Sidney Post (SP): The role these curriculums play are based on providing the big picture by utilizing specific guided activities that reinforce the topic area that the students will be involved in. As a hydrologist, I can utilize the WET/WOW/HWHP as tools to build and reinforce the knowledge base from the activities to allow the students and educators to engage in topic areas as they work through the selected activities from one or all of the resource books.

PWF: How do you think water education enhances community service projects like these?

Oregon students removed invasive weeds as part of a stream restoration projectOregon students removed invasive weeds as part of a stream restoration project SP: My experience in place-based water education allows hands-on actions that help students and educators to feel comfortable interacting outside the classroom and within their community. The students engage in hands-on learning that has a positive and long-lasting change in their local watershed by their involvements, and they tend to have a greater respect for their community once they engage in it. The most common comments I hear are, “I didn’t know that I was capable of doing the activity”, and “I didn’t know this project was so close to my school”.

PWF: Do you have plans to continue these kinds of partnerships in the future?

SP: Yes! We’re working on sustainability through a diversity of partners. We are working with several local schools on water quality collection projects. We are collecting macroinvertebrates from urban streams and developing traveling art kits through a partnership with our arts council. The focus of the kits will be beavers, as well as painting with soils and, you guessed it, water colors!

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