By Leigh Jenkins, SCWK Coordinator
After months of online learning due to the pandemic, it was exciting for the Silver City Watershed Keepers (SCWK) to get outside this fall with students from Stout Elementary School in Silver City and Snell Middle School in Bayard.
Along with our partner, Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Grant County, we provided outdoor field experiences to 120 middle school and 50 elementary school students. During the walking field trips, students learned about water conservation, water pollution, the use of water in agriculture to grow healthy foods, and the role the community plays in stewarding the environment and protecting human and wildlife health through litter cleanup.
Stout Elementary 3rd grade students from Nora Duarte’s class and 4th grade students from Julie Dunning Farmer’s class participated in a walking field trip along Pinos Altos Creek. Frequent stops allowed field trip leaders, teachers and students to discuss the issues of water quality, water conservation, and the importance of keeping our watershed pollution free.
Alicia Edwards, Coordinator of Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Grant County, discussed how “healthy food starts with clean water used to grow crops regionally and in our community”. This program provides healthy snacks and gardening education to elementary schools throughout the district during Nuevo Thursdays where healthy snacks and produce are introduced to elementary students in the Silver Consolidated School District.
Students picked up trash along the creek and in the vacant lot adjacent to the Department of Health. Working in small teams, students sorted trash from recyclables and learned that litter and debris contribute to water pollution that can harm humans, as well as wildlife. SCWK coordinator Leigh Jenkins talked about the Town of Silver City Pick It Up – Toss No Mas program and students were given stickers to place on their reusable water bottles.
Led by science teacher Drea Cornwell, Snell Middle School students from the 6th and 8th grades were thrilled to get outside for their service learning extension of the Water Conservation Data Jam grant they received from the Asombro Institute. After studying Grant County water quantity data and trying to find water use trends from 1995 – 2015, SCWK’s Leigh Jenkins guided students in testing water quality from different water sources: school drinking fountains, water bottle refill station, classroom fish tank and a neighborhood spring. The data trends were analyzed further in the classroom to determine the health of each of these water sources.
Students also spent part of their day cleaning up litter on their school campus. SCWK’s Allyson Siwik guided students in sorting the litter by category — plastic, paper, glass and aluminum/other metals – and making a physical bar chart in the parking lot using the collected trash. The students cleaned up over 100 pounds of litter and debris from the school grounds and then discussed why littering occurs and the ways in which it can be prevented.
Students will present their findings from their field study to parents and the community at Snell Middle School’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Fair on January 20, 2022.