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.

World Water Monitoring Challenge Contest! Get Connected!

The World Water Monitoring Challenge is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.

JOIN WWMC!  Support the program AND WIN a T-shirt and water test kit.

Twitter: To enter: http://bit.ly/17qNmw . #WWMC13

Facebook:  Like WWMC on ‪‎Facebook.  Visit http://bit.ly/17qNmwv to enter.

RiverXchange is proud to be a part of this program, which supplies our water testing kits.  WWMC:  “…test the quality of your waterways, share your findings, and protect our most precious resource!”

RiverXchange: Outstanding New Mexico Field Trips!

During the 2012/2013 school year, 1,125 New Mexico students experienced the local watershed in their backyard as they explored the Rio Grande bosque.  Spanish for forest, the bosque is the green outline along the Rio Grande, carrying precious water through our dry land.   Students from Rio Rancho, Edgewood and Albuquerque Public Schools hiked, studied, sampled, planted and helped conserve three different habitat areas along the Middle Rio Grande during their RiverXchange field trips.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the fall, some of our RiverXchange students visited the Alameda Wetland/Bachechi Open Space at the north edge of Albuquerque.  Managed by Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque, this fieldtrip site had plenty of great outdoor learning opportunities for our students.  Trails along the Rio Grande, wetlands, irrigation ditches, and the San Juan/Chama Drinking Water Diversion Dam replaced desks and textbooks.  Here, students learned about Albuquerque’s two sources of drinking water, explored the riparian habitat along the river, tested and analyzed wetland water samples and studied aquatic macro invertebrates.  After getting her hands and shoes muddy looking for dragonflies in the wetland, one of our RiverXchangers said, “This is the best fieldtrip ever!”  Educators from Bernalillo County Open Space expertly assisted us with many of the hands-on outdoor education activities.

Proud PlantersDuring the winter, several of our classes participated in bosque tree-planting at La Orilla Open Space.  Located within the Rio Grande Valley State Park, La Orilla, Spanish for ‘the bank’, 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 past winter, 350 RiverXchange students, their teachers and parent chaperones planted 600 trees and shrubs throughout a 7-acre area!  Students demonstrated great teamwork as they worked in small groups, digging, carrying and planting under the watchful eyes of expert staff from the City’s Open Space Division.

Planting TreesAfter planting his first cottonwood tree, one student said “I’m going to come back every year with my family to see how my tree is doing!” In addition to planting all those trees, students were treated to exciting wildlife sightings, including bald eagles, sandhill cranes and coyotes.

Boy on a Mission

Our spring field trips were split between the Alameda/Bachechi Wetland site and a beautiful Bernalillo County Open Space called Sanchez Farm, located in Albuquerque’s South Valley.  With the help of Bernalillo County Staff and volunteers from the La Plazita Institute, students learned what storm water drainage, wetlands, irrigation ditches, and locally grown food have in common.  Students participated in a storm water activity and studied the water quality and ‘mud bugs’ in the wetland.  RiverXchangers also got their hands dirty with service projects. After helping pull weeds, students were rewarded with samples of freshly-harvested organic radishes and turnips.  One student was overheard saying, “I didn’t know vegetables could taste so good!”

We could not offer these educational and fun field trips, without the generous donations of time, expertise and materials from our partners with Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque Open Space and the La Plazita Institute.  Thank you!

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Our fieldtrips are just one component of the RiverXchange experience.  Combined with valuable classroom activities, engaging presentations by local professionals and  computer technology to communicate with partner classes about watersheds in other areas, we strive to make RiverXchange an active, engaging and fun way to not only learn about our local watersheds, but to inspire students to be the new generation of water conservationists!

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.

Middle Rio Grande Urban Waters Federal Partnership – exciting news for RiverXchange!

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) will co-lead a team of federal partners towards a conservation initiative, a restoration project, and a pilot program for storm water permits in the Middle Rio Grande Region. There are 18 areas across the U.S. where this type of partnership is being developed to foster cooperation between federal agencies, specifically to address issues around urban waters. For more information, visit http://www.urbanwaters.gov/.

EPA presented a grant awarding $60,000 to the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District to improve water quality outreach and education in the Middle Rio Grande Region. RiverXchange will be a partner on this grant, providing our unique educational experience to 9 classes each year for two years.

This is a big deal! Of about 600 applications for the Urban Waters Small Grants, only 55 were selected. Grantees will become part of the Urban Waters Learning Network, and attend River Rally, May 17 – 20 in St. Louis, MO. We are excited to participate and grateful for the funding that allows us to expand the number of classrooms we serve.