Why do we care about watersheds? Our watersheds are a kind of local ecosystem, held together by streams, rivers and bodies of water. They are an interconnected web of plants, animals, people and land features that form complex relationships and help maintain a balanced, stable environment. For hundreds of years, people have knowingly and unknowingly harmed this natural stability by introducing invasive species or putting contaminants like pharmaceutical drugs and plastics into the water.
Now more than ever, watersheds are straining under the weight of climate change and habitat destruction. The WISE program addresses this problem by engaging teachers and classrooms in learning about the science of watersheds and supporting student-based actions to help restore or protect them. We offer teacher trainings, our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum and on-going mentoring to help teachers integrate emerging topics in watershed science into their classroom, while also engaging in community stewardship projects. Since 2007 we have trained over 70 teachers and have reached over 4,500 students.
Students benefit by being engaged in nearby, relevant topics, and they gain satisfaction from seeing the positive results of their hard work. We are learning that by connecting classrooms with local watershed issues, we can show students how to enjoy science learning. As an added benefit, they learn how to take civic action in the form of local community stewardship projects.
The WISE Program is implemented through a partnership between Oregon Sea Grant, Washington Sea Grant, California Sea Grant, and University of Southern California Sea Grants. If you are interested in learning more about the WISE program, please visit our website or contact the WISE program at WISE_seagrant@oregonstate.edu.
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