Fox River Watershed Monitoring Symposium
Each year, a one-day Fox River Watershed Monitoring Project symposium is held at UW-Green Bay bringing together student-teacher teams from the seven participating high schools, program partners, agency representatives and community members to learn about overall program activities and research projects, and to exchange ideas and compare data from the various watersheds.
The school teams share information about their watersheds and research projects with each other and the community by presenting their findings in poster and oral presentations. Project staff provide updates on University and agency research projects.
Students also participate in other activities, such as roundtable discussions on watershed issues, field bird monitoring training, campus tours and laboratory technique training.
“This is a great experience,” said Lynn Terrien, environmental science teacher at Green Bay Southwest High School. “We have a small group of students going out (to the watersheds) at one time, maybe eight to 10 students. And when they see other students doing exactly the same thing they do, and seeing their results, and they get to start talking and networking with one another, it gives them a really good opportunity to share what they’ve learned and ask more questions. It seems the more you learn, the more questions that you have. So this is a great collaboration of students.”
Examples of high school team presentations have included:
• Appleton East – “Effect of Retention Basins on Water
• Green Bay Preble – “Phosphorus Levels in Baird Creek”
• Luxemburg-Casco – “The Impact of Changing Land Use on Fish Populations of Baird Creek”
• Green Bay Southwest – “Flashiness of Duck Creek”
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and other official agencies can use the data to identify trends or problem areas in the Fox River tributaries that the students are monitoring.
UW-Green Bay Outreach Education Coordinator
The Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Symposium is an annual event on the UWGB campus that brings together students and teachers involved in the monitoring program, along with community members and agency representatives to talk about the students’ research in their selected watersheds. Students give their presentations, either in oral or poster format, and then the teams can compare and contrast data and findings from the various watersheds.
Prof. Kevin Fermanich
Natural and Applied Sciences
The Lower Fox River Watershed Monitoring Symposium is our sixth annual time that we’ve brought together students and teachers from various high schools involved in the Watershed Monitoring Program.
The symposium serves a number of purposes. One of the major reasons that we have it is that it gives the students from the various watershed teams a chance to see that they’re part of a bigger program of students and teachers throughout the entire basin working on watershed issues.
The data serves a number of purposes. One is that the students learn about the functioning of their watershed and the aquatic ecosystem and get a sense of understanding the connection between what’s happening on the landscape and what the response is in the watershed or in the water.
In addition, because we’ve been doing this now for more than five years, is that students maybe five or 10 years from now will be able to use the data that’s been collected over the last five years as a baseline to determine if the watershed is improving or if the conditions within the stream are deteriorating.
Senior – Green Bay Southwest High School
You’re so used to classroom settings, just a person up there telling you about it as opposed to actually going out there and experiencing it yourself. It’s a world of difference. I think it’s just connecting with teens on that level. Personally, I think hands-on experiences are way better than just looking at a textbook.
Environmental Science Teacher – Green Bay Southwest High School
This is a great experience. We have a small group of students going out (to the watersheds) at one time, maybe eight to 10 students. And when they see other students doing exactly the same thing they do, and seeing their results, and they get to start talking and networking with one another, it gives them a really good opportunity to share what they’ve learned and ask more questions. It seems the more you learn, the more questions that you have. So this is a great collaboration of students.
Now that we’ve been doing this for a number of years, students that have been high school students have moved through the program and have gone onto college in many science fields. Several of those students have come to UW-Green Bay and majored in environmental science, or biology or chemistry.
UW-Green Bay Freshman, Biology and Environmental Science
I came to a liking to it. And based off of this I actually acquired an internship. With the knowledge I got from this, I was able to beat out two college students as going into being a senior in high school for the internship, working closely with hydrology, looking at the dynamics of lakes and streams, mainly in the northern part of Wisconsin and some of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
One of the objectives of this program is to have an impact on the people and where they live. One of the ways we do that is the students learn about the watershed and hopefully they discuss that with their peers and with their family and so on. And we’ve asked that question of the participants and in fact most of them do share their activities with others that aren’t involved in the program. So it does serve a community-wide education purpose.
Plus we see many students are motivated by the problems they see out in the watershed. They want to do something about it. They want to go and talk to community leaders or talk to land owners and they talk about knocking on doors. Sometimes it’s a bit unrealistic, but it’s the enthusiasm that’s important for future change.