No name but plenty of friends

Kaleidoscope kids take creek cleanup into their own hands

Posted: Wednesday, May 10, 2006

 

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  Evelyn Austin gets her hands dirty while hauling junk from No Name Creek near Sears Elementary in Kenai on Monday. Photo by Patrice Kohl

Nico Castro, in yellow, and Bryce Jensen with Kaleidoscope push a tire up a hill in a cleanup project at No Name Creek on Monday.

Photo by Patrice Kohl

From the looks of things at last week’s city council meeting in Kenai, one of the town’s little creeks may not have a name, but it has no shortage of little friends.

One by one, second- and third-graders from Kaleidoscope School of Arts and Science approached the microphone in the council chambers with a message about No Name Creek and a study the children have undertaken to learn about watershed pollution. They also told of a plan for mitigating the damage.

On Monday the students took to the field to put their plan into action.

Having studied the turbidity of the creek since the beginning of the school year in September, the children concluded that the water in it is dirty and must be cleaned.

Under the auspices of the Kenai Watershed Forum, the children visited No Name Creek once a month through the year and created a turbidity chart.

“We noticed in October and November, the water is dirty; from December to April it’s clean; the rest of the year it’s dirty,” said student Alexandria Bergholtz.

“In winter, people can’t throw trash in the creek,” she said.

 

Evelyn Austin gets her hands dirty while hauling junk from No Name Creek near Sears Elementary in Kenai on Monday.

Photo by Patrice Kohl

Student Grace Ramsay said creek water cannot be made dirty in winter “because of the ice.”

The Kenai Watershed Forum kindergarten through 12th grade education coordinator Shelly Brenneman said she works with a number of elementary schools in the central Kenai Peninsula, and KWF serves as an advisory group for the Caring for the Kenai environmental conservation awards program for secondary education students.

“With the younger kids, we study turbidity — how clear the water is — and (such things as) sediment and storm drain runoff,” Brenneman said.

“We’ll do our final turbidity test (Monday) before the kids begin their cleanup,” she said of this week’s activity plan — the last of the school year — for No Name Creek.

“The cleanup was their idea. They identified the problem and developed a plan to correct it,” she said.

Addressing the city council, student Mariah Schloeman said, “The watershed teaches us to not litter. Please don’t pollute.”

Danielle Updike said the goal of her class was to “try to make the water clean.”

In addition to litter and trash, Aedreena Nicks said the students noticed storm drains spilling into the creek, and Kirsten Nyquist said, “We would like Kenai to start cleaning No Name Creek.”

The watershed forum’s goal in educating young people focuses on the question, “How do we keep the Kenai River watershed healthy and strong?”

Their answer is, “Teach our children how to take care of it.”

Working with schools including Kaleidoscope, Aurora Borealis and Montessori charter schools and Kalifornsky Beach and Tustumena elementary schools, KWF staff members teach children about watersheds, water cycling, glaciers, erosion, ground water and wetlands.

Educators visit each school once a month and frequently accompany students on field trips where scientific monitoring equipment is used to demonstrate how water and chemistry are used outside the classroom.

KWF Executive Director Robert Ruffner briefly described the Kaleidoscope project to the Kenai City Council and said, “These kids have decided to take it to the next step,” telling them of the cleanup plans.

In explaining her study of No Name Creek’s turbidity, student Darian Saltenberger said, “If we can’t tell how clean or dirty the water is, we’ll never know how clean or dirty it is.

“We should keep the water clean.”



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