The Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) have teamed up for a community partnership – the City Stream Stewards program – that will connect area middle school and high school students to service-learning projects designed to improve water quality in urban communities throughout the Finger Lakes region.
Thanks to a $5,000 grant from TWC’s Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) philanthropic initiative, FLI will facilitate urban water projects with young people from Geneva High School, Auburn High School and The Sciencenter in Ithaca. Volunteers from TWC, service organizations and members of the HWS and local communities will join the collaboration.
“The program’s objective is to give students opportunities to identify water quality issues in their own communities and present solutions,” says Nadia Harvieux, the FLI Education Program Manager and coordinator of the City Stream Stewards program. “The teachers who are involved with City Stream Stewards will explore options for the projects during the school year and work with the FLI and community partners to implement them with students.”
From installing rain barrels and creating rain gardens to removing invasive species and marking storm water drains, the various environmentally conscious projects will take place during spring 2016. Each of the projects will include community outreach, including a public presentation and distribution of educational materials.
The projects are particularly timely, Harvieux says, with current water quality monitoring showing that streams flowing through urban communities may typically have degraded water quality. For the project, the Finger Lakes Regional Stream Monitoring Network will conduct both pre- and post-assessments of water quality in designated areas.
“As a technology company, Time Warner Cable believes STEM education is critical to the future workforce of America but also to the changing learning environment today’s students enjoy,” says TWC Northeast Community Investment Manager Stephanie Salanger. “Through hands-on experiential learning opportunities such as Stream Stewards, students learn to be inquisitive about their own communities, become good environmental citizens and engage with our local employees who are proud to contribute where they live and work. We applaud the efforts of the Finger Lakes Institute for recognizing the importance of partnering with corporations to provide such an exciting learning opportunity for these students.”
The community partners say they’re looking forward to kicking off the student-driven projects.
“We are very excited to participate in this project,” says Geneva High School Principal Gregory T. Baker ’00. “Geneva High School students have many wonderful opportunities to be a part of relevant STEM projects, which is a testament to their teachers and the Colleges. These experiences prepare our students for college as well as to become good stewards of one of our most precious resources, Seneca Lake and its watershed.”
Sciencenter educator Lauren Van Derzee says: “The Sciencenter’s Future Science Leaders are very excited to expand our citizen science project to include City Stream Stewards. We are interested in taking a proactive response to the data and information that we have gathered over the past three years on the water quality of Cascadilla Creek.”
“We thank the Finger Lakes Institute and Time Warner Cable for their support with the City Stream Steward Project,” says Leela George, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction at Auburn Enlarged City School District. “We are pleased and excited to be able to engage our students in relevant learning about local issues. This opportunity to enhance the curriculum for students at Auburn High School will teach important science concepts as well as cultivate social consciousness in our students which will serve them well as they prepare for college and careers.”
At Hobart and William Smith, FLI is dedicated to the promotion of environmental research and education about the Finger Lakes and surrounding environments. In collaboration with regional environmental partners and state and local government offices, the Institute fosters environmentally sound development practices throughout the region, and disseminates accumulated knowledge to the public.
TWC launched CAMM in 2009, challenging parents, mentors and others to connect more than one million students to after-school STEM activities to address this “inspiration gap.” To date, TWC has provided cash and in-kind investments far in excess of its original $100 million commitment to inspire student interest in STEM. In May 2014, together with its partners, TWC exceeded its goal of connecting one million students to STEM opportunities and today, continues connecting students to high quality STEM learning opportunities.