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UI to teach students water quality

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Posted: Monday, May 14, 2012 9:46 am | Updated: 10:50 am, Mon May 14, 2012.

PINEHURST -- Approximately 20 Silver Valley Upward Bound students will wade into local waters, and local history, on Saturday, May 19. The field day is designed to help the students better understand the past and future of the Silver Valley, and the vital connections between environment, industry and education.

Two University of Idaho programs, Upward Bound and IDAH2O, are partnering with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the US Forest Service to deliver a brief history of water quality in the region.

The educational outreach kicks off with a barbeque for the students from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at West Shoshone Park.

Participating students will visit the Moon Creek site from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. They will move between four stations, manned by experts, to learn about water quality and sustainable use practices.

Silver Valley UB participants are high achieving, low-income, first-generation college-bound students. The half-day event will include hands-on training for the students in water quality analysis techniques. They will work with IDAH2O program assistant Kelli Duncan and intern Marie Pengilly, collecting and analyzing water samples from the creek, measuring dissolved oxygen, temperature, water clarity and pH.

Idaho DEQ Watershed Coordinator Kajsa Stromberg will teach students how to identify benthic macroinvertebrates --bugs that live under the water -- in and around Moon Creek. Students will collect, identify and learn the creatures' role as indicators of water and environmental health.

Aaron Prussian, USFS hydrologist and fisheries biologist, will discuss historical and current restoration activities at the site. He also will discuss the varieties of fish living in the stream, and the environmental factors essential to retaining and growing a healthy fish population.

“This information is important to these students because it helps explain their role in the natural environment and how their actions affect the quality of water we enjoy,” said Ashley McFarland, University of Idaho Area Extension educator and director of the IDAH2O program.

Students have greater interest in and ownership of the material they are learning when it impacts them directly, studies indicate. That is one reason the UB students are learning about the environment in their own backyards.

“The Upward Bound curriculum focus is on learning beyond the classroom. We try to focus on how that relates to the students' place in the world,” said Marcee Hartzell, University of Idaho Silver Valley UB Director. “UB prepares students to be active, informed citizens of their community, campus and country through learning and contributing. This activity and partnership with IDAH2O provides opportunities for participants to do just that-- to learn and contribute.”

“It is vital that these next-generation community leaders learn the industrial and environmental history of the Silver Valley,” said McFarland. “That knowledge will help to establish sustainable practices that support both the environment and the region's economy for years to come. We would also like to encourage these students to consider career paths in natural resource fields, and the young professionals that are presenting at the field day will hopefully encourage that.”

For more information on this event or on other IDAH2O workshops and training, contact McFarland at idah2o@uidaho.edu or 292-1287, or visit www.uidaho.edu/cda/idah2o/.

For more information on Upward Bound contact Marcee Hartzell at mhartz@uidaho.edu or 292-1367, or visit http://www.uiweb.uidaho.edu/upwardbound/.

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