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August 05, 2008

Alabama Instructors Educate on the Environment

Students examine sediments and biology

Nine months of the year, as part of the Creek Kids program, Brenda Morrison and Maurice Jackson teach children of grades five to eight about pollution and its affect on the environment and on the fish and other animals living in freshwater. They are aquatic education instructors of the Alabama Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries Division (AWFF) at Tannehill Historical State Park in McCalla, Alabama. Using the hands-on Enviroscape models, Morrison and Jackson are able to teach the students about non-point source pollution so that the children can understand how pollutants enter the water system. The students also use nets to examine the various critters in the creek, which can help them better understand the quality of the water.

Using the net

Bryan Burgess, Alabama Sierra Club Water Sentinels coordinator, came in contact with Morrison and began to offer funding and equipment to her program. The Water Sentinels conduct similar watershed training activities and therefore were well equipped to aid the Creek Kids program in their parallel pursuit. The partnership involves Burgess supplying funds and equipment for the Creek Kids program students, while Morrison and Jackson have agreed to teach programs for grades five to eight. If the Creek Kids program continues to be a success, similar programs may be implemented in other regions of Alabama. Currently, AWFF has six district offices within the state, each with an onsite senior and junior fisheries biologist.

Students in the creek

Even though Burgess has been able to supply some funding, Morrison and Jackson are seeking a grant through Legacy, which could provide up to $10,000. This money would help the program reach more needy students by allowing for the purchase of equipment and for payment of the park entrance fee for them. In the future, Morrison hopes to purchase a backpack shocker, which has two probes that create an electric field used to stun fish so that they can be studied and then released. Water testing kits would also aid with instruction on how to evaluate water quality. The money could allow for the expansion of the program as well, as costs of transportation could potentially be covered.

Backpack_shocker    Biology

Morrison shared her thoughts on educating the children. "My job as an aquatic educator is a very rewarding experience because I am able to share information that will impact a child's life and how they view and interact with our state's natural resources." This is truly an important element of a young student's education, as our natural resources will continue to become ever increasingly under pressure.

"Take a course in good water and air" -John Muir

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