Alabama Water Watch helps 4th grade win state environmental education award

Huntsville’s Highlands School Fourth Graders Win Statewide Environmental Education Award by Sampling Local Waters Using the Alabama Water Watch Test Procedure

Among the winners of 2006 Best Environmental Education Project (BEEP) Awards were 12 students from Mrs. Linda Hardee’s fourth grade class from Highlands School in Huntsville, Alabama. The awards program is a state-wide competition sponsored by Troy University’s Center for Environmental Research and the Environmental Education Association of Alabama, and is open to K-12 public and private schools, nature centers, zoos, museums, community groups, organizations, and individuals working toward educating our young people and the general public about the environment.

Ms. Hardee is the ‘Special Programs for Academic and Creative Education’ (SPACE) teacher at Highlands School, and was one of 17 citizen volunteers attending a watershed workshop held at Camp McDowell in Nauvoo, Alabama in 2005. The workshop was sponsored by the Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club and Sierra Water Sentinels. As part of the training, the attendees were certified as Alabama Water Watch (AWW) water quality monitors. Mr. Bryan Burgess of the Sierra Water Sentinels Program provided standard AWW water chemistry test kits to the newly certified monitors for water testing and classroom teaching tools. Teachers were asked to take their students to the field at least once in the fall and spring, demonstrate the use of the kits in water quality testing, teach about the importance of clean water and pollution prevention, and report their findings to the AWW Program.

After participating in the workshop, Ms. Hardee demonstrated water chemistry testing using the AWW kit to her class, but wanted to do more. She came up with the idea of developing a video of water testing that could be used by other students, and applied for a grant to purchase a video camera. She then set her fourth graders to writing a script, developing a PowerPoint slideshow, and starring in their video entitled “How’s the Water Testing?” The video was submitted to the state-wide BEEP competition, and the Highlands fourth grade project was chosen as Number One in the state in the ‘Best School Project’ category. The class is very proud of the award and considers it a crowning achievement of their environmental education efforts.

The AWW Program, based in Auburn University’s Fisheries Department, conducts training workshops across the state to certify volunteer monitors in water chemistry testing, bacteriological testing and stream bioassessment. AWW maintains a statewide database of volunteer monitor water quality data. Since its beginnings in 1992, the AWW Program has conducted more than 1,100 workshops and trained 4,500 volunteer citizen water monitors throughout Alabama. The AWW database currently contains more than 49,000 water quality records from 2,100 sites on about 700 waterbodies across Alabama. To learn more about AWW, go to www.alabamawaterwatch.org.

Liu elected AAAS Fellow

Earlier this month, John Liu of Fisheries received the 2007 Creative Research and Scholarship Award from Auburn University. Now comes word that the catfish geneticist has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. A Fellow is a member whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications are scientifically or socially distinguished. Specifically, Liu’s selection is in recognition of his contributions to genome research efforts in aquatic species and his role as coordinator of the National Aquaculture Genome Project.

David Cline wins 2007 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest

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Fiddlehead Ferns in Oneonta by David Cline, Auburn

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is bringing some of that beauty inside in hopes of inspiring more residents to get outside. For the rest of the year, a collection of winning images from the 2007 Outdoor Alabama Photo Contest will travel the state, highlighting the best in Alabama’s natural beauty. From Monday, November 5th through Monday, December 3rd, the exhibit will be on display at the East Alabama Arts Historic Opelika Depot in Opelika.

The 21 winning color photographs were all taken in Alabama, by Alabamian amateur photographers. The first place winner in the Flora category is David Cline, Extension Aquaculturist at Auburn University.

Oyster Garden Reef Restoration

By Jene’ Young: Meteorologist, WKRG News 5

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I first told you about oyster gardening two months ago.
What is Oyster Gardening?

   
Now it’s time to deploy the grown oysters!
With the help of three seniors from Alma Bryant High School, science teacher Lynn Stuart, Project Coordinator Kara Lankford with Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, and Aquaculture Specialist P.J. Waters, the process was tedious.
Alex Callister said, “I don’t know if it’s hard work if you enjoy it the whole time.”
   
Oysters are big hit with seafood lovers, but they also play a big role in keeping Mobile Bay clean.
P.J. Waters describes oysters as a natural filter system.”Through their natural feeding process they help filter the water. The more oysters we have the better the filtration process.”
   
Silt, mud and other debris from recent hurricanes have covered up and suffocated many oyster reefs.”What we do is help stock the reefs that were here, or that are here and need a little help.”
   
Lankford describes the oysters when the volunteers in Mobile and Baldwin Counties first get them in July. “The oysters are are about 4 millimeters, which is the size of your thumbnail. And right now, some of them are reaching two inches in size, so they grow very fast down here.”
Before the oysters are dropped off in Mobile Bay, the group has to collect the oysters from each volunteer’s pier and load them on a truck.
Once the oysters are collected, boats take us out to the reef, south of Fowl River.
This year the volunteers grew over 60,000 oysters. An additional 37,000 oysters were donated from Auburn University Shellfish Lab.
Once we reach the restoration reef, the oysters are tossed into the Bay.
   
All three students describe the job as messy, but wouldn’t change anything about the program.
Danielle King, an exchange student from New Zealand likes the “field trip.”"It’s the hands on part that I like about it because it gets you out of the classroom and gets us doing stuff that we actually talk about.”
   
The restoration site south of Fowl River was chosen due to the dry weather. The salinity levels at this site should help increase the oysters chance for survival.
Waters said, “This reef is located north of what would be considered open shellfish harvesting area, so you are not permitted to harvest this reef.”
   
For more information about the program, check out the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program: Oyster Gardening

Fourth Annual State of Our Watershed Conference

Fourth Annual State of Our Watershed Conference -
The Tallapoosa River Basin

Sponsored by the
Middle Tallapoosa River Basin Clean Water Partnership
Auburn University Water Resources Center
Central Alabama Community College
Alabama Water Watch

Central Alabama Community College
Alexander City, Alabama
Friday, April 11th, 2008

This free conference is for anyone interested in learning more about the health of streams, lakes and rivers that comprise the Tallapoosa River Basin, the economic and development plans and visions of
policy makers, watershed management strategies, and community participation in the management of the Tallapoosa Basin.
To Read More…

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