Water quality monitoring programs at local high schools are currently one of our most successful outreach initiatives. Funded primarily by the Rayonier Community Fund Grant, teachers are trained in Georgia’s Adopt-a-Stream bacterial and chemical monitoring protocols and then take groups of students to perform regular monitoring. The program is currently in operation at Charlton and Camden high schools in Georgia and Fernandina Beach and Baker high schools in Florida..
Through this program, students learn the chemical characteristics of the river and the impacts that various contaminants have on the health of the river. They also learn to appreciate the importance of clean water as a natural resource for human well-being, and hopefully become future stewards of a healthy river ecosystem.
Besides the educational benefits to the students, this project has resulted in the collection of important data that could have otherwise been missed. The Fernandina Beach High School students, for example, were recently responsible for reporting elevated levels of E. coli at Egan’s Creek, so that now the Department of Environmental Protection has joined the efforts to find the source of the contamination.