WaterStar: Ashley Satterfield of the Howard County Conservancy in Maryland

WaterstarThis is the latest in a series of posts highlighting people around the world who embody the ideals of the Clean and Conserve Education Program: making the world a safer and healthier place through water conservation and hygiene education. The first round of WaterStars were identified through the May 2016 survey of people who downloaded the Clean and Conserve Education Program materials or took the online trainings. WaterStars will receive printed copies of each book as well as enamel WaterStar pins to recognize their work. Anyone who has used the Clean and Conserve materials is eligible for consideration to be a WaterStar award winner. Submit your story to learn more.

Ashley Satterfield, Education Manager and Camp Director, Howard County ConservancyAshley Satterfield, Education Manager and Camp Director, Howard County Conservancy An environmental educator with a background in science research and education, Ashley Satterfield has been working with kids outdoors since she was a junior counselor at Girl Scout Camp. In her fifth summer as director of the Howard County Conservancy (HCC) nature camps in central Maryland, Ashley has been using activities in the Clean and Conserve Activity Guide for Educators in HCC’s camps and “School’s Out” program. Each session has 15 children each between the ages of five and 12, and Junior Staff members between the ages of 13 and 17 participate along with the younger campers. HCC’s mission is to “educate children and adults about our natural world, preserve the land and its legacy for future generations and model responsible stewardship of our environment.”

Ashley said that the Clean and Conserve lessons complement other activities at the full-day camps, which encourage campers to learn about the conservancy through hands-on methods such as hiking, experiments, stories and nature exploration.

Students pass beads and other items during a camp activity teaching about watershedsStudents pass beads and other items during a camp activity teaching about watersheds “We have used the lessons in the Activity Guide along with other activities similar in topic,” Ashley explained. “For example, if we start with a lesson on watersheds using the 'Healthy Natural Watersheds’ lesson, we may also use the Enviroscape table or visit our streams to do a trash cleanup.”

In addition to working directly with campers, Ashley has also been using the materials in camp staff training to demonstrate lesson planning and engagement. The youth leaders that she has trained are then able to use the materials with their campers, since they are free to download from the Clean and Conserve web page. 

Ashley noted that customizing the materials for the local watershed—in her case, the Chesapeake Bay—has made the activities even more effective.

Campers living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed learn how their actions upstream affect the bayCampers living in the Chesapeake Bay watershed learn how their actions upstream affect the bay “In ‘Healthy Natural Watersheds’, for example, we used local streams and rivers that the campers would know: The  Davis Branch and East Branch streams on our nature center's grounds head to the Patapsco River, and many campers live near the Little Patuxent and Middle Patuxent tributaries to the Patuxent River,” she said. “The campers understand now that all of the trash in this watershed ends up in the Chesapeake Bay.”

She said that activity is one of her favorites because it connects the students physically to the idea of a watershed.

“By changing up their actions, they are able to understand better what might affect the flow rates of streams and how the body of water is affected by the land of the watershed,” Ashley said.

Ashley added that the “Conserve Water” activity helps her get across ideas that can be difficult to comprehend in water-rich Maryland.

“‘Conserve Water’ has great ways to extend comprehension of water conservation,” Ashley said. “Our students learn in school about the amount of potable water on earth, about the different bodies of water where water is found, and they learn about how little fresh water is available—but it is really hard to understand the need to conserve if they have never experienced scarcity.”

According to Ashley, the interactive learning methods in the Clean and Conserve activities really make a difference in helping students retain what they’re learning.

Satterfield says that whole-body movement and other engaging teaching methods are critical for retention and comprehensionSatterfield says that whole-body movement and other engaging teaching methods are critical for retention and comprehension “Whole-body movement activities help all students learn and internalize information,” she explained. “For example, students learn at an early age that they should wash their hands often, but many young students do not take that information to heart. Glitter handshakes and soap tag, as demonstrated in the ‘Soap and Water Science’ activity, allow the students to become part of the process in a very engaging way.”

So far, Ashley has reached almost 100 students and staff with Clean and Conserve activities, and she hopes to continue her use going forward.

“Since conservation is the mission of the Howard County Conservancy, I will continue to use the materials with groups of campers and students,” Ashley said. “I will be pairing the activities in the Clean and Conserve guide with other lessons from Project WET and local clean-up efforts. Hopefully, my campers can teach their families about what they can do to help conserve water and land.”


The Clean and Conserve Education Program, developed through the partnership between the Project WET Foundation and Ecolab, includes lessons, activities and other learning resources for children and youth ages three through 18, as well as educators. Visit the Clean and Conserve page to learn more. Originally published in English, Clean and Conserve materials are newly available in Chinese, Spanish for Mexico, French for Canada and Portuguese for Brazil (French and Portuguese materials are available for download from the English-language page).

Other WaterStars:

Joseph Dabuo of Ghana

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