This summer, the Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) conducted a three-day teacher workshop on land use and water quality in the Finger Lakes. The workshops engaged teachers from across the region in inquiry-based learning based on Science on Seneca and the Finger Lakes Stream Monitoring Network programs. The workshop was made possible by an $8,840 grant from the Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science (RACCEMS).
The FLI will continue to develop educational programming in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) through another recent grant. The new grant enables the FLI to develop a watershed educational program specifically for Seneca Lake and its watershed. Using funding awarded by the Ontario County Water Resources Council, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) has contracted the FLI to develop a watershed educational program to be used by school districts in the watershed as part of their environmental awareness and science education programs.
“Funding provided through RACCEMS and SLPWA is critical for enabling the FLI to work with teachers and students. During these times of tight budgets at the local and state levels, support from a variety of sources is needed. We are fortunate to have funding already from the Dorr Foundation and Time Warner to help support our educational programs, but this new funding allows us to reach more of our local students,” says Lisa Cleckner, director of the FLI. “This program will provide locally developed and focused watershed curricula for regional students as well as help offset expenses incurred by school districts to enable field trip participation by students in their watershed.”
The focus of the educational material will be on the Seneca Lake Watershed. Middle school and high school students will learn about their local watershed, the relationship of their watershed and their community and, where possible, visit portions of the watershed to take part in structured hands-on water quality monitoring. Further, curriculum may explore land use and best management practices that will facilitate discussion among students about the communities’ responsibility toward their local watersheds.
SLPWA was formed as a direct response to citizen-based interests in preserving Seneca Lake water quality and in response to potential threats to that quality. SLPWA is a non-profit corporation founded in 1990 and reorganized with a new board of directors in 2008. As an advocate for water quality, SLPWA strives to increase understanding and awareness of water-related issues for the entire watershed and serves as a grassroots community clearinghouse for research, information and education that enable citizens throughout the Seneca Lake Watershed to jointly manage their lake.
In the photo above, Mike Horvat, of Hillside Children’s Center, learns about sediment samples taken from Seneca Lake from Derek Weiss ’12 and Jacob Schreiber ’11. The three were aboard the William Scandling Research Vessel for “Impact of Watershed Activities and Land Use on Finger Lakes Water Quality,” a teacher training programs conducted by the FLI as part of Science on the Seneca and Finger Lakes Stream Monitoring Network programs.