Fifteen educators from across Colorado convened for a River Ecology and Water in the West courses during the 3nd annual Western Rivers Teacher Workshops during the 2019 Western Colorado University's Summer Teacher Institute. In addition to five days of instruction in the field and classroom, participants learned to use ESRI story maps and Google My Maps to share special watershed topics and create walking field trip maps from their school. let us know, and we'll keep you up to date on upcoming registration deadlines.
River as Text: Ecology course
Water in the West course
Feedback from participants:
Monday - Friday, June 10-14, 2019
Western State Colorado University, Gunnison, Colorado
Utilize western rivers to meet interdisciplinary academic standards creating relevant place based context for your students.
Register through the Extended Studies program.
See last year's participant reflections, photos, and more here.
River as Text: Ecology (3 days)
Monday-Wednesday June 10-12, 2019, 2 credit course
Learn how to utilize rivers and riparian habitat as the context to meet your curriculum through observations, explorations, discussions, and journaling to create student-centered learning experiences. During this field-based course, participants will explore the three major components of a river ecosystem: aquatic life, water quality, and riparian habitat. Inter-disciplinary field experiences include field trips to local riverside parks, Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery, and Curecanti National Recreation Area. Participants will also create an online Google My Maps river field trip asset map for their school. Physical ability to walk across uneven terrain, stand for long durations, and carry equipment is highly suggested.
Water in the West (2 days)
Thursday-Friday June 13-14, 2019, 1 credit course
Learn how to incorporate the complexities of water management in the West into your curriculum through cross-curricular field and classroom activities and routines. Using questioning, observing, and reflecting routines participants will explore western water management, water law, and watershed geography. Participants will also create an ESRI Story Map using online GIS tools to explore and explain water management concepts and corresponding geography more closely. Field experiences include a Blue Mesa Dam visit, a visit to Taylor Reservoir, and time at Gunnison Mountain Park. Physical ability to walk across uneven terrain and stand for long durations is highly suggested.
1. If you sign up with a group by May 17 everyone gets a discounted rate, up to four people from your school district.
2. Western State makes the dormitories available during the workshops at a very affordable rate for lodging.
3. Childcare is available at the Tenderfoot Child and Family Development Center during the courses.
The Mobile Earth + Space Observatory (MESO) is coming to Carbondale Middle School in March to present an environmental education program on The Importance of Water, thanks to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. MESO, a science center on wheels, will be parked at Carbondale Middle School for the week of March 11-15, providing an assembly program for all of the school’s 300+ students, and inquiry-based classroom activities for the eighth grade classes. Students will interact with scientist educators from the National Space Science & Technology Institute (NSSTI) as they explore topics and engage in learning that augments the school’s curriculum on the water cycle, watersheds, water purification, and water conservation.
After school, MESO staff will be available for students to further explore Earth & space science using telescopes and other scientific instrumentation. In the evening on March 14, MESO will be open to the public, allowing students’ families and friends to visit and participate in celestial observing. The week will culminate in a “Puddle Palooza” Science Festival on March 14th at 6:30pm for community members to experience highlights of the program presented to students during the week and visit with community partners who deal with water issues and concerns.
This visit has been a year in the making, as school staff and NSSTI planned hands-on scientific inquiry to allow students to experience first-hand what it is to be a scientist. Wild Rose Education's Youth Water Leadership Program and Carbondale Middle School Science faculty and administrators have coordinated with the NSSTI staff to integrate MESO in the school’s schedule this week, and invite community participation in the Thursday night event highlighting the week-long focus on water.
“The program is designed to reach students who might not otherwise have access to the scientists and scientific instrumentation provided by the MESO,” said Robert Sallee, Chairman of the NSSTI Board of Directors. “We want to engage and excite students, and motivate them to pursue additional education in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects leading to careers in the technology workforce.” “This project will engage middle school students in learning and research in vital environmental issues relating to our Colorado water supplies with an emphasis on community-based concerns,” Sallee said. “The educational programs have been created to be consistent with Colorado science education standards and build upon curricula and activities currently in place.”
Carbondale Middle School is one of five middle schools across Colorado selected to participate in this program, which is being piloted to verify the efficacy of the mobile STEM lab as a vehicle for motivating students to learn and do research in the Earth and space sciences. Recognizing that many schools do not have the financial resources to acquire sophisticated scientific equipment, NSSTI is awarding each school a $4,550 sub-grant to fund purchase of the scientific instrumentation needed to support on-going student research and costs of participating in this project.
In addition to the MESO water week, the science teachers at Carbondale Middle School have participated in GLOBE training so that their students can collect real science data which is entered in an international database and used for numerous research projects. “The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment.” (from www.globe.gov)
Also, NSSTI is providing Carbondale teachers with the opportunity to involve their classes in a distance learning program that connects them via computer to scientists who can discuss the relevance of what they are studying to the lives and wellbeing of people in their community and in other communities.
Dimitri Klebe, PhD, NSSTI President and Principal Investigator for this project, said the goals of the project are to increase student and community understanding and appreciation of the importance of hydrological systems in their communities; how these systems are affected by human influences and climate change; and how these hydrological systems fit into the global picture. This will promote environmental stewardship and increase everyone’s capacity for informed decision-making about water issues on both local and global scales.
“We are bringing together scientist-educators and community organizations to resource teachers and students to do actual research around local community water concerns,” Klebe said. “As a result, students will see the applicability of science to their communities and how community concerns relate to larger regional, national, and international concerns,” Klebe said.
This was partially made possible by these generous 2019 Youth Water Leadership Program sponsors.
2018 Year in Review
Wild Rose Education’s Youth Water Leadership Program™ mission is to create authentic student-centered learning experiences that increase watershed literacy through civic action. During 2018, the program reached 646 student contacts ages sixth grade-college in three program areas during 94 hours of experiential learning.
Growth and Expansion of Youth Water Leadership Program™
Exciting growth occurred during 2018, the second year of this signature YWLP program. Hosting the CIRES Lens on Climate Change film making program, creating branding, convening the Summit Leader Team, mentoring senior capstone students, hosting a day long youth water summit, and employing a program intern significantly increased the program’s capacity and impact. In addition to the founding sponsor, Pitkin County Healthy Rivers, 10 additional generous financial sponsors made this expanded programming possible. Finally, utilizing the collaborative support of 20 partner organizations made this year’s YWLP more effective, meaningful, and fun.
Read the new Youth River Voices blog where water, river, and climate change youth leaders give voice to the most important issues of today
Watch the student presentations below
The Third Street Center 501(c)3 is the fiscal agent for the Youth Water Leadership Program.
Interviews with Christa
John Wesley Powell recognized inherent problems in our vision of settlement of the West more than a century ago, and his prescient ideas may help guide us into the future. Join author and river guide Christa Sadler as she discusses John Wesley Powell the man, the scientist, the explorer, and the visionary policy maker from her new book The Colorado, about the human relationship with the Colorado River Basin.
Although most people are familiar with John Wesley Powell as the intrepid one-armed Civil War veteran who became the first European to explore the canyons of the Colorado and Green Rivers in 1869 and again in 1871-72, it is the work that Powell did following his epic journeys for which he truly should be famous. Powell understood the challenges of life in a land of little water like few others of his time, and his ideas for settlement of this region were visionary. As water becomes scarcer and more precious in the West, Powell’s ideas may provide valuable guidance for water managers at all levels in the coming decades.
The Colorado River Basin is one of the driest river basins in the world, yet it has nonetheless birthed extraordinary landscapes and entire civilizations. The waters of this desert basin now support more than 40 million people—more than 10% of the country’s population depends in part or entirely on the waters of the Colorado River and its tributaries. The Colorado examines nine episodes in the history of our interaction with the Colorado River, from early prehistoric cultures to the Spanish explorations of the lower reaches of the river, the dam building frenzy of the early and middle 20th century, industrial agriculture and the current use of water throughout the region. This book provides important history and context to one of the country’s most important—and most endangered—watersheds.
Eighteen educators from across Colorado, Nebraska, and Nevada convened for a River Ecology and Water Management courses during the 2nd annual Western Rivers Teacher Workshop during Western State Colorado University's Summer Teacher Institute in June 2018.
Reflections from Participants
Participants' Story Maps
Now in the program's second year, we are excited to share the new logos for the Youth Water Leadership Program and the local Healthy Rivers Youth Water Summit in the Roaring Fork Watershed. Designed by a local college student these two bright youthful marks are distinct yet closely related and elevate the program and its future expansion.
a project of Extended Studies Summer Teacher Institute
Western Rivers Teacher Workshops
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