Environmental Education

USRWA enjoys partnering with local schools to teach K-12 students about water quality in the Upper Sugar River Watershed. If your local school would be interested in having USRWA teach a class or help with watershed education, please let us know.  Here are some examples of schools we have partnered with in the past:

Glacier Ridge Elementary School, Verona

Whalen PondIn October 2015, USRWA partnered with the City of Verona Public Works Department to bring over 250 students to the Whalen Pond Outdoor Laboratory in Verona. Students learned about the importance of prairies, the problems caused by invasive species, and had an opportunity to spread prairie seeds collected by Verona High School students.

Toki Middle School, Madison

USRWA and Executive Director Wade Moder had the privilege of teaching three 7th grade classes, over 80 students, at Toki Middle School in December 2014. Students at Toki are currently learning about watersheds and the importance of clean water in their daily lives. USRWA helped students understand the local and regional watersheds they are a part of, and what we can do on land to protect our water.

In Spring 2015, the student’s goal is to build a rain garden on school grounds. Good luck to Toki Middle School and thank you for including USRWA into your lessons. We look forward to more partnerships in the future!

New Century School, Verona

In June 2015, USRWA and New Century helped over 40 4th and 5th graders canoe the Sugar River as part of an end-of-the-year field trip. Many of the students had never been in a canoe before, and it served as a great learning experience for volunteers and students alike.

056USRWA is currently working with this environmental charter school on a Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB) grant that has allowed the school to purchase stream monitoring supplies. Heidi Konop and Lee Lohr’s 4th and 5th grade classes have adopted two monitoring sites on the Badger Mill Creek, a short walk from their school. They are gathering data about stream flow, water temperature, dissolved oxygen, and analyzing the macroinvertebrate communities at each site. They have also participated in storm drain stenciling and handed out stormwater information packets throughout target neighborhoods to create awareness about urban runoff issues.

In the fall of 2013 the students also participated in the phragmites control project by re-seeding the site (post phragmites removal) with a native prairie seed mix. Signage along the Ice Age Trail details the efforts of the students, teachers, Ice Age Trail Alliance, and Upper Sugar River Watershed Association volunteers.

Paul J Olson Elementary, Verona

In 2012 USRWA staff and volunteers taught 5 classes at Olson Elementary. We developed a lesson plan that utilized a nearby stormwater detention pond as an outdoor learning laboratory. Students learned about the scientific method and came up with their own hypotheses about what types of life they might find in the pond. We then ventured into the field and collected a macroinvertebrate sample for analysis in the classroom. Students were able to gauge the water quality based on which species were present and which were absent.

Belleville High School, Belleville

Students from Belleville schools have worked with USRWA and other local entities to restore Lake Belle View. Activities included electroshocking fish from the Sugar River and transporting desirable species to the lake to establish a warm water fishery. Students also planted native aquatic vegetation by securing plants to rocks with string and cheese cloth. Vegetation is able to sprout roots through the cheese cloth and establish itself on the lake bottom.

In addition to working in the schools, USRWA contracted with Underwater Habitat Investigations, LLC in 2009 and 2010 to carry out an ecological survey of oxbow lakes along the lower reaches of the Sugar River. The report from this study can be downloaded here:

Surveys of Sugar River Sloughs