As a BRWA staff member, the most enjoyable and fulfilling work includes getting out in the watershed to do fieldwork, as well as education and outreach. It's hard to imagine a better way to spend the day than doing all of those things at once. This past week was full of such opportunities. BRWA participated in a water quality workshop on the Potato River with 30 students from Red Cliff and Bad River as part of an Indigenous Arts and Sciences program on July 15th, and then hosted a similar workshop for nine members of Sparta's High School Earth Club on the Tyler Forks on July 18th.
Indigenous Arts and Sciences is a function of the UW Arboretum's Earth Partnership program. Staff from the UW Arboretum and Bad River Natural Resources Department (BRNRD) were among those that helped instruct at the event. Mariana, BRWA Volunteer Coordinator, teamed up with BRNRD to teach water chemistry monitoring techniques using the LaMotte water quality kits used by BRWA volunteers. Naomi Tillison of BRNRD showed the participants how to use a meter to gather a number of different water quality parameters. BRNRD also did a demonstration with a FlowTracker, and explained how streamflow information coupled with chemistry data can be useful by showing how much of a given substance or pollutant is being discharged from a waterbody over time.
Tony Janisch, BRWA Executive Director, helped lead the aquatic invertebrate section of the workshop. The participants collected bugs using D-nets, and then looked at the live specimens and practiced identifying them. The group engaged in discussions about the habitat and water quality requirements of the specific types of invertebrates, and how this information is used to guide decisions about our water resources. More pictures to come from this outing!
The Earth Club of Sparta, WI High School is longtime member of the Bad River Watershed Association. Though Sparta may be hours away from the Bad River watershed, this group has made it a habit to treat the world the way they would their own backyard. They have spearheaded a successful recycling program in their community, and use the proceeds to support conservation efforts they care deeply about. This includes arctic conservation and solutions to climate change, the work of the Bad River Watershed Association, and more recently, Save the Boundary Waters. The leader of Earth Club is Joe Cook, who teaches German at Sparta High School. He has a social and sentimental connection to the Chequamegon Bay area. He passes on his stewardship ethic and care of the Great Lakes to his students by teaching them about issues facing the region and leading them on field trips to visit this special place. They always make a stop at Waverly Beach to visit Joe Rose, retired professor of Native American Studies at Northland College and Bad River Tribal Elder.
The Earth Club water quality monitoring workshop took place on the Tyler Forks at the end of Moore Park Road. The group was interested in this spot because of its proximity to the previously proposed GTac mine and the Lac Courte Oreilles Harvest Education Learning Project Camp. It is also a scenic and excellent place to get in the water and enjoy the natural beauty of this trout stream. To combat the bugs, a screen tent was set up for several hours to act as a temporary "field station" as the students looked at invertebrate samples and practiced chemistry monitoring. Following the workshop, the Sparta Earth Club presented BRWA with a donation, which will be used to fund our volunteer water quality monitoring program.
We'd like to thank everyone that participated in or helped organize these events. The future of our resources and the planet are in the capable hands of these truly optimistic and creative youth, and one can't help but feel inspired. Experiences like this are a big reason we do what we do!