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Students Contribute to RiverWatch Research
High school students throughout the Red River Basin Watershed are
developing watershed awareness by conducting research for the Red River
Valley’s RiverWatch, according to Wayne Goeken, Red River Watershed
Management Board RiverWatch coordinator.
Students perform tests in local streams to determine dissolved oxygen, Ph
and turbidity levels, factors used to evaluate water quality. Additional
measurements and visual judgments are made to supplement test results. Data
is then entered into a computer network, which allows students from
different sites to compare results and evaluate relationships between
upstream and downstream conditions.
"The effort gives students a sense of place and a connection to the local
watershed," says Joe Courneya, North Dakota State University Extension
Service 4-H youth specialist and director of the Red River Basin Institute’s
Watershed Education Center. "It also gives them a chance to participate in real-world science."
Many students have changed their outlook about a resource previously
taken for granted. "I think about water way differently than I used to,"
says Matthew Jorud, senior at Barnesville High School. "Now that I see what
is in the water, I can understand why we need to conserve and treat the
Classmate Brandy Scheffler is grateful for the opportunity to gain
hands-on experience. "Before, I just studied the material. This way I have
to actually understand it," she says. Scheffler hopes that her participation
in RiverWatch will help with future college courses.
Science isn’t the only thing students are learning, according to Goeken.
They are also developing skills in statistical analysis and oral
presentation. After sampling is completed in the months of April to October
and the data has been compiled, students share the meaning of their research
with local resource managers and civic groups.
Goken concludes that the combination of events is equipping future
leaders of the basin with the awareness and capabilities to assure continued
multiple uses of local waters.
Source: Joe Courneya, (701) 231-6184,
Writer: Teresa Oe, (701) 231-8371,
Editor: Tom Jirik, (701) 231-9629,