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Watershed Wonders with Middle School Students at Camp Biota

Staff Photo
by Washington Water Trust

Written by Maggie Gonzalez, WWT Project Manager (Photo credits: Anni Ponder/USFWS & Julia Pinnix/USFWS)

Early in April, I had the great opportunity to spend a day teaching at Camp Biota, a week-long overnight science camp for middle school students in the Migrant Education Program from various school districts throughout Washington State. The camp took place at the Lake Wenatchee YMCA Camp in Leavenworth and was put on by the North Central Educational Service District in partnership with Leavenworth Fish Hatcheries, YMCA of Wenatchee, North Central Regional Libraries, and Wenatchee Valley College.

The students attending Camp Biota have the unique opportunity to spend time in the field learning about ecosystem function, biology, wildlife, salmon, and water quality. It is a truly inspirational camp that provides minority students with the opportunity to engage with nature and STEM education in a way that would typically be inaccessible to them.

Being Mexican-American made this a particularly meaningful experience for me. It was a lot of fun to work with the students and share a bit about my background and passion for improving freshwater resources through my job at the Washington Water Trust. Even the seemingly shy students came alive during the activities and demonstrated an interest and curiosity in the topics we covered.

The highlight of the day was the Watershed Wonders activity, where the students were given the challenging task of role-playing different stakeholders in the process of developing a project for a given land area within a watershed. There was great back-and-forth discussion amongst them as they tried to strike a balance between the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the development project. The leadership they demonstrated as well as their ability to think quickly and incorporate many of the concepts they had learned throughout the week was excellent. You know an educational program has been successful when you have 12 year-olds passionately discussing how they will manage hypothetical waste and mitigate road contamination with a wider vegetative area!

It was a great event to be a part of and we look forward to participating next year.