HTMS EAST students Chloe, Quinn, and Zack, and facilitator, Brittany Berry, pose with Kyle Weaver of Congressman Steve Womack’s office, Washington County Judge Marilyn Edwards, Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse, and EPA Region 6 Administrator Ron Curry after a presentation at the IRWP’s Watershed Learning Center in October 2014.
Last fall, Springdale’s Helen Tyson Middle School was lucky enough to be granted an EAST (Environmental and Spatial Technology) program. It did not take us very long to become connected with the IRWP and the amazing programming opportunities available to students. For us, our connection began with a rain garden workshop but, as you can read below, it has grown to be so much more. As the facilitator of these kids, I cannot help but be proud of the work they are doing for the Illinois River Watershed, and I’m so excited for all the opportunities that are coming their way.
-Brittany Berry, Helen Tyson Middle School EAST Facilitator
Alyssa Banks & Chloe Reed, 7th Graders at HTMS:
Hello, this is Alyssa Banks and Chloe Reed. This is Alyssa’s second year working on water conservation through EAST class, and this is Chloe’s first year in EAST. We were interested in water conservation because we wanted to help the environment and realized that water is a very part of our lives and that it needs to be in good condition for us to survive. We want to be a part of making the water quality in Northwest Arkansas better.
Last year, Alyssa helped create maps, taught 7th graders how to test water quality and began monitoring water near our school. We all have learned how to use GIS for mapping purposes and used it to help map nature trails at the IRWP’s Watershed Sanctuary earlier this year. We have used the map we made to teach others about the invasive and native species along the trails.
Alyssa Banks maps invasive species along the nature trails at the IRWP Watershed Sanctuary in September 2014.
This year we are still working on water conservation, but we have added other projects within the project. We have added an Invasive Species unit and a Stream Team unit. We have partnered with IRWP and Arkansas Stream Team for these projects. Earlier this year we went to IRWP to get more information on Invasive Species and how we can help. We are looking forward to working with the IRWP to work on removing many of these species from their trails to help out the native plant species we want to protect.
We recently created a video on Stream Teams, a membership form for our group, and created a map showing where streams are in relation to local EAST schools. The map will help people that join the Stream Team know where the closest impaired stream is to their school. We sent all this information out to inform others and create our stream team. We hope that by the end of the year that we will have improved water quality, gotten the ball rolling for the Stream Team, and cleared some of the invasive species from the IRWP Watershed Sanctuary.
The first Stream Team effort: a Brush Creek cleanup with HTMS, Hellstern Middle School, and Kawneer in Springdale.
Zack Winters and Hagen Thiede, 6th Graders at HTMS:
Hi, this is Zack Winters and Hagen Thiede. It is our first year in EAST. We are working to enhance the riparian buffer zone along Brush Creek just outside Har-Ber Meadows in Springdale. A riparian buffer zone contains grasses, small trees, bushes, and shrubs of all kinds. We chose this project because it can help improve polluted waterways in NWA. We have learned how riparian buffers collect sediment and run-off and help slow down and reduce water pollution and erosion. We want to inform 6th and 7th graders at Helen Tyson Middle School about riparian buffer zones by including them this spring as we grow native grasses in our classroom grow station that will be part of our riparian project.
The stretch of Brush Creek where Zack and Hagen’s riparian project is taking place.
So far we have made a poster and some handouts to tell teachers and other students about our project. Next we will be growing our native grasses and planning a day to plant our riparian buffer zone along Brush Creek. On that day, we will plant the grasses we grow in our classroom, and we will also plant native tree seedlings from the IRWP’s tree farm at Flint Creek Power Plant in Gentry. We are also going to map out our planting site to help plan for planting and monitor the site after we are done. Our goal is also to learn how to build a 3D model of the site to teach people about watershed protection.
Through this project, we have learned how to restore riparian buffers, how to use GIS to map features, and how to make videos that inform people. We hope our project will make people more interested in protecting our local streams, creeks, and rivers.
HTMS EAST student leaders and facilitator, Brittany Berry, pose in the model cave at the IRWP Watershed Learning Center in September 2014.
Quinn Cowing, 7th Grade Student at HTMS:
Hello, my name is Quinn Cowing and this is my second year of working on water conservation through my EAST class. Last year, my group was working on teaching water quality to all 7th grade students, creating maps of impaired and at-risk bodies of water within our watershed, and using what we learned to begin monitoring water near our school.
We are still continuing this project by observing local streams for erosion because we are planning to plant native grasses around these eroded streams to keep soil pollutants from entering local water bodies. Then later in the year, we will test again to see how our plantings are improving these areas of our community. Earlier in this semester we were able to visit the IRWP Watershed Sanctuary and we mapped out the invasive species and important landmarks along one trail. Then we created a map we presented to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) when they visited back in October.
Quinn Cowing, a 7th grader at HTMS, shakes the hand of EPA Region 6 Adminstrator Ron Curry after a presentation at the IRWP’s Watershed Learning Center in October 2014.
This year, we decided that we wanted to monitor many streams but we didn’t have enough people, so we are starting a stream team for the Springdale EAST students. The IRWP will be our community partner and they will help teach the members and tell us where our watershed needs the most help. Lately, I have been filling out all the papers in the binder sent to me by Arkansas Stream Teams. Most of the papers are about permission from landowners, stream info, and member signatures.
We also have plans to visit a local elementary school to teach 4th and 5th graders about our watershed and water quality monitoring. Our goal is to expand knowledge about water quality to kids of all ages. I can’t wait to get out and into the field and work with many other students in our community to help protect our watershed!
Alyssa Banks and Quinn Cowing with water samples from various water bodies in the Illinois River Watershed.
A Conservation Leadership Summit will be held at the IRWP Watershed Learning Center on Monday, January 5, from 10 AM to 2 PM for any students or teachers who are interested in getting involved with the Springdale Stream Team or in the process of starting their own. Mayor Doug Sprouse (Springdale) will give a brief presentation about the importance of communities working together for watershed conservation, then HTMS EAST students will provide information about their projects and how others can get involved. The IRWP will train participants in water quality testing at Cave Springs Cave and demonstrate online data entry. 4 hours of ADE-approved professional development credit are available. For more information, email email@example.com.