Distracted by the days many comings and goings, one might fail to take notice of the pristine beauty that Colorado has to offer. Though, one has only to look upon the humbling majesty of Pikes Peak to feel a sense of gratitude and responsibility for the land we live in.
Kendall Hovel, an Environmental Science teacher at Woodland Park High School, lives up to this obligation by involving his students in a hands-on, in-the-field experience that allows them to monitor and asses the health of local streams.
“I want my students to have an outdoor experience to give them a reason to appreciate our water resources and streams,” Hovel said.
Participating in up to three different programs, Hovel’s AP Environmental and Global Environmental students enjoy a wide range of activities that promote awareness and insight into the health of Woodland Park’s water resources. Among the programs instituted at WPHS are River Watch, Stream Side Science, and Trout in the Classroom, all of which are directly applicable to an experience both inside and outside of the classroom.
Cooperating with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, River Watch is a volunteer-based program that operates to encourage the monitoring of streams and rivers alike by schools throughout the state of Colorado. WPHS was first exposed to the River Watch program in 2007.
Since then, Hovel, along with his students, has been actively participating in monitoring the chemical, biological and physical aspects of the nearby Trout Creek. The samples that Hovel’s students attain from Trout Creek are then indirectly handed over to the Water Quality Control Commission, which is held responsible for the managing of Colorado’s water resources.
“It’s a great opportunity if you really like hands-on learning as opposed to classroom learning,” said Matt Eden, a junior at WPHS enjoying his second year with River Watch.
New to WPHS this year is the Stream Side Science program. The premise of Stream Side Science closely resembles that of the River Watch. However, even though it equally promotes the inclusion of field work, it has a much stronger curriculum and a greater focus upon the educational aspect.
While River Watch is a monitoring program used for education, Hovel explained, Stream Side Science is an educational program used for monitoring. Information derived from Fountain Creek through Stream Side Science, is then shared with other schools such as CSU Pueblo, Pueblo South, and Fountain Valley High School.
Participating in their second year, Hovel also involves his students in a project known as Trout in the Classroom. Sponsored by Trout Unlimited, a national fishery restoration program, Trout in the Classroom allows students the opportunity to not only raise trout from the moment they are eggs but to also release them into the wild within a year’s time. The trout are cared for within a classroom setting, and allows students limited to the classroom an in-field experience.
“Not every student gets to go to the stream, so it’s way to bring the stream to the classroom,” Hovel said.