Watershed Education Program Inspires Seventh Graders Contributed by Maria Young, Northwoods Stewardship Center
Seventh-grade students in Brighton, VT and North Stratford, NH will soon be using their schoolyard as an additional classroom: a nature classroom! Through the generosity of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and their Nature of Learning Grant Program, the Northwoods Stewardship Center has launched the Nulhegan Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative, and these students are the direct beneficiaries.
This novel project, a partnership between the Nulhegan Basin National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and the Northwoods Stewardship Center, links seventh grade students to their watershed areas through a series of conservation related educational and fun activities. The project will use existing restoration efforts of Altantic salmon and their habitat as a means for students to explore and discover natural resources in their own backyard.
Connecting students from both sides of the watershed, common ground was explored by canoe, with autumn’s golden-needled tamaracks as backdrop. Students began to imagine the struggles faced by salmon as the students themselves fought a stiff headwind in the headwaters of the Nulhegan River – the day’s outdoor “classroom”. Here, in the middle of the broad Nulhegan basin, looking up at the surrounding mountain ridgelines, it was much easier to imagine oneself as a part of the watershed. In the spring, these same students will become “citizen scientists”, armed with thermographs to measure water temperature, aiding in an ongoing scientific effort to chart water temperature and determine the effects that climate change may have on the suitability of the Nulhegan River as a cold water fishery. Students will also work with fisheries biologists from the State of Vermont and Trout Unlimited to stock and monitor salmon fry. To culminate the Initiative, students will work on a riparian conservation project within the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge.
Maria is the Education and Outreach Director at NorthWoods Stewardship Center, a non-profit organization located in East Charleston VT dedicated to connecting people and nature, through research, education and action.