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Adopt-A-Watershed 2016-17 Program

The 2016/17 Adopt-A-Watershed (AAW) Program got started in June 2016 when TNWRRC coordinated its annual AAW teacher training (Figure 1) bringing seven new teachers into the program along with training Office of Surface Mining staff who are supporting the program’s implementation at the L&N STEM Academy. In addition, the 2016-2017 CAC AmeriCorps members completed their month-long “watershed boot camp” training and are mapping out service learning projects with the teachers.The program is being conducted in Knox County, Oak Ridge, and Farragut with the support of six CAC/Knox County Stormwater members, two CAC/Oak Ridge Stormwater members, and one CAC/Farragut Stormwater member (see Figure 2). Two AmeriCorps members are being supported by the Regional Office of Surface Mining Program, and will be conducting the program at the L&N STEM Academy. Other participating schools include: Halls High, North Knox Technology, Powell High, Career Magnet Academy, Farragut High, West Valley Middle, Bearden High, Central High, Fulton High, West High, South Doyle Middle, Holston Middle, and Grace Christian Academy. The AAW Program is managed by ISSE's TNWRRC and is sponsored by Knox County Stormwater and the Water Quality Forum.

Figure 1: AAW Teacher Workshop: Back row (left to right): Earl Bandy (OSM), Jill Shinlever (Career Magnet), Noelle Turner (Bearden), Jill Strating (Central High), April Keener (Holston Middle), Ryan Brem (Karns High), and Bryan Schultz (L&N STEM Academy); front row (left to right): Elizabeth Smith (OSM), Bonnie Craighead (OSM AmeriCorps), Ruth Anne Hanahan (TNWRRC), and Val Elton (Fulton High)

Figure 2: 2016-17 AmeriCorps members helping to implement AAW. (L to R): Patrick Rose (Knox), Emily Fennell (Knox), Caitlin Craighead (Oak Ridge), Kenny Blair (Knox), Kaitlyn Etienne (Knox), Courtney Alley (Farragut), Jackie Cirincione (Knox), and Tina Ball (Oak Ridge), Rebecca Bratcher (OSM). Not shown are Colleen McWilliams (Knox) and Bonnie Craighead (OSM)

2016-17 Activities

The 2016/17 Adopt-A-Watershed Program had about 1500 students participating in projects that resulted in outcomes that further educated our community on how we can protect our natural resources and/or directly improved a watershed through on-the-ground projects. Approximately two-thirds of the classes participated in five or more hands-on 60- to 90-minute lessons, with some classes participating in 10 plus in-class and field activities. Nearly all the students (96%) responded to a post survey that, as a result of their participation in AAW, they intended to change their living habits in ways that would help improve our waterways.This statistic is gathered on behalf of the CAC AmeriCorps Program that seeks to influence environmental behavior through education and community involvement. The following are some of the AAW activities conducted across Knox County:

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SDM students plant wetland plants in the UT Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance demo site

Baker Creek Watershed, South Doyle Middle School AAW Club students:

  • Installed native plants in the UT Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance demonstration site (Figure 1)
  • Stabilized exposed soil to start a campus garden
  • Participated in the Adopt-A-Stream program, helping to remove trash from in and around the stream.

Beaver Creek Watershed,Grace Christian Academy—Mrs. Walker’s two year-long Environmental Science classes mentored 50 4th grade students, involving them in hands-on activities that introduced the 4th graders to the Beaver Creek Watershed, it impacts, and how the students could help mitigate these impacts.

Karns High School— After learning about the impacts of household hazardous wastes, Mr. Brem’s spring Marine Ecology students educated their parents on the local Hazardous Waste Facility.

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CTE Ag Science students refurbish rain barrels for Halls Outdoor Classroom
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Halls High students remove invasive plants in Halls Outdoor Classroom

North Knox Career Technical Education (CTE) & Halls High School—Ms. Keep’s fall semester CTE AgriScience 4th block class refurbished two rain barrels for the Halls Outdoor Classroom (HOC) pavilion and installed two on the school’s greenhouse.

The 1st block AgriScience class focused on the HOC invasive plant problem, removing 140 lbs of invasive species and planting select native species for additional habitat and beautification (Figure 2). Ms. Keep’s spring AgriScience students assisted the LRE (special needs) class in planting annuals in the HOC raised bed (“quilt garden”) as well as removing invasive plants.

Mrs. Coley’s year-long Environmental Science “Watershed” class' primary service involved preparing for the recertification of the HOC Tennessee Urban Forest Certification (TUFC) Level 1 Arboretum due this fall. This included updating the tree inventory data including both the tree locations and their species, using the ESRI program Survey123. The students were aided by a PhD candidate from the UT Forestry Department. Using this information, the class developed an ArcGIS Online StoryMap for the HOC Arboretum. This on-line interactive application includes the locations of the trees along with tree profile sheets created by the students that can be publically downloaded. Mrs. Coley’s class also planted roughly 15 native shrubs and trees in the HOC Arboretum, while pulling out invasive plants in the process. This class also assisted with the children’s activities conducted at the HOC Celebration.

Conner Creek Watershed, Hardin Valley Academy—Mr. Paquette and Ms. Elton/Ms. Halvorson’s spring Botany/Zoo and Ecology classes focused on improving the health of Conner Creek flowing through their campus by both conducting trash clean-ups and riparian plantings. They also drafted “No Mow” signs for the Conner Creek riparian zone upon the completion of the middle school construction.

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Fulton Instagram contest entry illustrating the "good" & "bad" in their watershed

First Creek Watershed, Fulton High School—Ms. Davis’s fall Biology class educated school staff on impacts on First Creek through a poster campaign, with campaign effectiveness measured through on-line staff pre- and post-surveys.Ms. Davis and Ms. Neff’s spring Biology classes participated in an Instagram contest where students were challenged with taking on-campus photos that made the connection between their natural environment and what that they learned through AAW activities. Students had to not only take a great photo, but include a relevant caption to accompany it. Contest judging criteria included number of likes on their Instagram posts.

Central High School—Ms. Jill Strating’s AP Environmental class built a prototype for a Floating Wetland Habitat for the Fountain City Lake that was recently launched in the Lake for a trial run. This project is being conducted in partnership with the City of Knoxville Stormwater Department in conjunction with LDA Engineering and the Fountain City Lion’s Club. A primary purpose of the 4 ft by 4 ft Floating Habitat that contains wetland plants is to absorb excess nutrients from the Lake.

Love Creek Watershed, Holston Middle School—Ms. Keeler’s 7th grade Honors Science class' primary focus was to educate parents about the rain barrel concept through an online drawing of a rain barrel. In addition, the barrel was designed and painted with a watershed theme by the students. Outreach for this drawing included creating advertisements and for those parents who participated in the drawing to take a stormwater pledge.

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CMA students testing Swan Pond Creek water quality

Swan Pond Creek Watershed, Career Magnet Academy—Mr. Blankenship’s Agriculture Science class created custom hand fans (aka "Fans of Sustainability") that conveyed watershed health concepts through student artwork and slogans. They were disseminated at the 2017 EarthFest and, since it was a particularly warm day, were extremely well received.Mrs. Brown’s Chemistry classes conducted the Swanpond Watershed Stream Assessment. This involved conducting split sampling with KUB, with samples being tested by both the KUB Lab as well as in-class by the students. Data from these analyses were incorporated into two student SASEF Science Fair projects. One entry won the SASEF Certificate of Excellence and the other entry won the following awards: SASEF Certificate of Excellence; ASU Walton Sustainability Award; and the US Stockholm Junior Water Prize Regional Award. Read about these student awards.

Ms. Brown’s Chemistry and Ms. Shinlever’s Biology students planted 42 native trees in the riparian zone of Swan Pond Creek at the Forks of the River Park. Both classes also educated family members on watershed concepts, seeking pledges that they would help to protect our local waterways.

Ten Mile Creek Watershed, West Valley Middle School—The 8th grade Science classes conducted a range of projects that improved the environmental health and aesthetics of the and/or educated their parents on actions they could take to improve our local watersheds. These projects included:

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WVM students’ handiwork, showing "fix" for the highly trafficked eroded area
  • Stabilizing an area of eroding soil in a highly trafficked area of campus by applying a fabric and overlaying with mulch; adding stepping stones for functionality and appearance; and removing 550 pounds of invasive species.
  • Building three three benches for the campus outdoor classroom.
  • Learning about the importance of native species to share with their parents and then putting this knowledge into action by creating native plant “seed bombs” to be planted in their home landscape.
  • Participating in a “Can the Grease” initiative, creating cans to take home and teach their families about the importance of proper grease disposal.

Bearden High School—Ms. Turner’s two fall Marine Ecology classes created and distributed educational brochures with watershed-related concepts and personal action steps to improve water quality, obtaining signatures from family and friends showing intent to change practices to keep the watershed clean. Ms. Turner’s spring Marine Ecology classes removed 200 lbs of trash along Ten Mile Creek at the Walker Springs Park in conjunction with field educational activities that included working with professional biologists in collecting and analyzing fish and benthic macroinvertebrate populations and conducting chemical analysis on creek water. Her classes also created preliminary designs for an educational mural to be painted along Ten Mile Creek Greenway next year that is being planned by Knox County Stormwater.

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West High student-designed riparian sign to be installed by the City of Knoxville along Third Creek

Third Creek Watershed, West High School—Ms. Nanney’s Botany/Zoology classes conducted a multi-prong riparian buffer initiative along Third Creek Greenway that included:

  • creating a map of invasive and native species in a select area along the Third Creek Greenway using Survey 123 for ArcGIS;
  • removing invasive plant species; and
  • drafting designs for “No Mow” signs that are to be replicated and installed by the City of Knoxville Stormwater Program.
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West High IB class begin construction of rain garden (Mr. Reed shown in forefront)

Mr. Reed’s IB Environmental Science class installed a 10 ft by 17 ft rain garden by hand on the West High’s campus. This project is a component of Dr. Jon Hathway’s NSF CAREER grant being coordinated by graduate student, Whitney Lisenbee. A subsurface monitoring well was installed in the garden for students to continue to participate in th is data sharing project with other schools over the next three years.The Environmental Club assisted UT Engineering graduate student Andrew Tirpak with rainfall data collection and watering of tree bioretention columns in an experimental station located on the West High campus as a part of the US Forest Service grant. The Environmental Club also took a lead role in organizing one of the Tennessee Environmental Council’s 100K Tree Day distribution sites and plantings along Third Creek near Sutherland Avenue.