RiverXchangers Create Dramatic Presentations, Raise Baby Fish, and More!

The first half of the 2013-2014 RiverXchange program has showcased many creative projects from around the world.

Students have created PowerPoints and videos about their rivers, watersheds and critical issues affecting these resources. We saw “news reporters”, dramatic presentations, puppets, and story-box illustrations. The writing was excellent with some very persuasive pieces about water quality and the importance of reducing water pollution. Several writing samples were in story form and the pictures that the students posted were beautiful. These provided great visual comparisons of New Mexico and the other RiverXchange locations.

Rio Grande, Albuquerque, NM
Rio Grande, Albuquerque, NM
Swan River, Perth, Western Australia
Swan River, Perth, Western Australia

Some special projects: New Mexico students participated in Bosque tree-planting.  Located within the Rio Grande Valley State Park, Alamo Farm is managed by the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division and is located adjacent to the west bank of the Rio Grande. Every winter, the City of Albuquerque plants thousands of cottonwood trees, willows and native shrubs to help restore the Rio Grande Bosque. This year, RiverXchange students have planted 137 cottonwoods and 370 coyote willows during January and February. This farm is a wildlife preserve and provides valuable habitat for bosque wildlife, especially migratory birds like Sandhill cranes.While students planted native trees, they got to see porcupines, bald eagles, coyotes and other bosque animals.  This project site is called the ABCWUA Paseo del Norte project, a drinking water mitigation project, that included planting native vegetation along a silvery minnow channel.

In Ohio, a RiverXchange class is fostering young fry (baby trout) and will help restock their local river. In Washington, students participating in a similar project will release their salmon fry into their local stream. In Romania, the students joined National Cleaning Day and collected the trash along the river – “especially plastic bottles”. These are just a few of the community projects that the RiverXchange students have supported. Many will conduct water testing on their nearby streams and rivers this spring.

Albuquerque Watershed Project

ABQ Water shed project

Presentation CameroonWater testing in Cameroon

We are extremely proud of ALL 82 RiverXchange teachers!

Amongst the current changes and demands of teachers, this dedicated and creative group supports the commitment to foster a greater awareness of water resources and to empower the next generation of environmental stewards. Our congratulations go out to these educators for a first semester of outstanding student projects and performance.

RiverXchange has classes in Ohio, Massachusetts, Nevada, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Washington state. This year we have international classes in Belarus, Cameroon, Australia, Romania and Russia. Our international classes came to us through our association with World Wide Monitoring Challenge. Check out our Google Map to see the locations of all 2013-2014 RiverXchange classes.

RiverXchange and Extension Agents receive team award from NMSU

https://i1.wp.com/aces.nmsu.edu/employee/awardrecipients/2013/images/RiverXchange.JPG

On April 19, we had the honor of traveling down to Las Cruces to join Cooperative Extension agents from three counties in receiving a Team Award from New Mexico State University’s College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. This annual award is given to a team of three or more NMSU faculty or staff , with a majority of members from the College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences, engaged in interdisciplinary activities in one or more of the functional areas of teaching, Experiment Station research, and Extension Station research.

Since 2009 the Cooperative Extension Service has partnered with RiverXchange to present “Commercial uses of Water: Agriculture.” Extension Agents present a hands-on educational program related to farm irrigation systems and conservation technology, as part of the year-long RiverXchange curriculum.

The Small Farm & Ranch Task Force assisted with providing an educational field trip for about 150 fifth grade students from Pojoaque Intermediate School, in the spring of 2011 and again in 2012. Extension Agents partnered with RiverXchange and the Alcalde Ag Science Center to provide a hands-on learning experience. Additionally, the purpose of the program was to: 1) educate students about the governess and issues related to water, 2) promote the benefits of environmental stewardship, 3) increase students’ environmental literacy and agriculture role. Students became “scientists for the day” to learn about acequias, agriculture, and irrigation techniques.

As a result of this collaboration, other educational opportunities and partnerships have been established. In order to emphasize the concepts covered in the classroom, several teachers organized additional field trips to Cooperative Extension’s “Kids and Kows and More” festival, which expands upon what their students learned through RiverXchange.

RiverXchange Fieldtrips Connect Students to the Rio Grande

Since last fall, Albuquerque and Rio Rancho RiverXchange students and their teachers have been exploring and helping the bosque ecosystem along the Rio Grande. So far, 26 classes – nearly 700 students – have participated in fieldtrips at the Alameda Wetland/Bachechi Open Space, the City of Albuquerque Open Space Visitor Center and the La Orilla bosque.

With support from the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division, Bernalillo County Open Space and Water for People, students have performed water quality tests, planted trees and shrubs and explored the bosque through hands-on activities and guided nature hikes. Students have planted nearly 500 trees and shrubs, including cottonwood and willow poles, and native wetland plants, all while learning about the importance and inter-connectedness of our river and wetland ecosystems.

Topics and themes first introduced by knowledgeable guest speakers in the classroom were reinforced during the fieldtrip experiences.

During the fieldtrips, discussions, activities and observations on drinking water sources, storm water run-off, agriculture practices and water quality were combined with on-the-ground projects and experiences that helped to further connect RiverXchange students to their environment. Each student was provided a field journal where they recorded their water quality data, field observations and answered key questions. Students especially liked getting their hands dirty by planting native trees and shrubs, expanding their sense of ownership and commitment in helping protect the Rio Grande.

With more fieldtrips still scheduled before school is out, we’re looking forward to more great work and experiences from our RiverXchange field trippers!

RMSAWWA & RMWEA Funding, Water for People Volunteers Help Make Water Quality Testing a Reality!

Three new organizations have joined forces to provide funding and field trip assistance for our newest curriculum component:  water quality testing.  The Rocky Mountain Section of the American Water Works Association (RMSAWWA) and the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association (RMWEA) will cover the cost of water quality test kits for New Mexico field trip docents, and the cost of sending water quality test kits to all of our partner classes — some of whom live outside the U.S.

In addition, RiverXchange has partnered with the New Mexico chapter of Water for People, who will provide water resources professionals to help us conduct water quality testing on our New Mexico-based field trips.

Water quality testing is a critical new component of the RiverXchange curriculum to be carried out on the field trip to a local river or important watershed feature. Field trips in New Mexico will incorporate hands-on lessons about wetlands, aquatic macroinvertebrates and water quality, and students will use a field journal.  In some cases, a service learning project will be included (e.g., tree planting or agricultural activity).

Water quality testing data will be submitted to the World Water Monitoring Challenge program, who has generously covered the cost of water quality test kits for all our partner classes.

Water quality testing enables students to learn first hand how (and why) scientists determine the health of a river using pH, temperature, turbidity and dissolved oxygen.  Students will also do pre- and post- field trip activities.  The goal is for students to understand how land use affects water quality and what the water quality data tells us about the ecosystem. Students will write to their “high tech pen pals” about their experience at the river, why we collect this data and what it means.