Over the past school year, students in Kenai Peninsula schools have been monitoring streams near their classrooms. They have taken monthly measurements of temperature, turbidity, pH, conductivity and oxygen levels, recorded the local aquatic insects and sampled fish populations that utilize the creek. Along with all of this fieldwork, students have been studying different aspects of watersheds through monthly classroom presentations and activities led by the Kenai Watershed Forum and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Now that it's spring, the students are ready to immerse themselves in another aspect of watershed health: Spring Cleaning.
In the month of May, three schools participated in a large-scale stream cleanup that will include picking up streamside litter as well as cleaning up trash along nearby roads. Sixth-graders at Tustumena Elementary school cleaned areas alongside Crooked Creek on May 17, Kenai Middle School sixth-graders cleaned areas around Golf Course Creek on May 18, and Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science cleaned No Name Creek and surrounding areas on May 16.
Adopt-A-Stream has been running in schools for over 15 years, but the annual cleanups are a more recent addition, starting nine years ago when the Kenai Watershed Forum began overseeing the program.
"These cleanups are a great experience for the students," said Dan Pascucci, Education Specialist with the Kenai Watershed Forum. "They don't necessarily realize that many small actions can have a big impact on an area whether those actions are positive or negative," Pascucci added, "we're striving for the positive."
Over the course of the year, students gain a better understanding of what it takes to have healthy streams and why healthy water is important. During cleanups, students have an opportunity to put that knowledge to work.
The partnership between the Kenai Watershed Forum, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the schools that participate in the Adopt-A-Stream program has been having a positive impact on students for many years. With these creek cleanups, the students now have an opportunity to have a positive impact on their communities in return.