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MONITORING THE ST. CROIX RIVER AND SPRING CREEK TRIBUTARY: A TOOL FOR TEACHING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ESSENTIAL WATER QUALITY CONCEPTS
Alaina Fedie, St. Croix Watershed Research Station
For centuries, water has been a fundamental part of human existence. From cooking and recreation to agriculture and industry, this simple staple is so ingrained in our daily lives, that most do not even realize it is taken for granted. However, if ignored, the quality of our water supply will inevitably deteriorate in as little as a few generations. For this reason it is imperative that current research regarding water quality issues and the passion to strive for clean water are cultivated in societies' youth now. The St. Croix River and its tributaries provide a local and readily accessible water resource for students to learn fundamental water quality concepts. Its basin is comprised of 15 major tributaries that drain across forested and agricultural land in the north and heavily urbanized areas of the Twin Cities in the south (Magdalene et al). Because of rapid populations growth along these tributaries (Magdalene et al) preventing further degradation of its water quality is vital in securing the St. Croix's future as a National Scenic Riverway.
The Science Training and Research Skills (STARS) program is a new educational outreach program at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station that strives to cultivate this passion in local youth. Through the STARS program, high school students are taught how to design and execute a water quality study. To that end, water quality samples were collected by these students three times over the summer of 2010 at specific points along the St. Croix and one of its tributaries. The data were analyzed to answer three objectives: 1) determine whether there are any temporal or spatial trends within the collected data set; 2) make recommendations for future sampling designs and analysis suites based on trends found within the data and how useful the results are to teaching students basic water quality concepts; 3) propose ways to organize the water quality data for future years of the STARS program.