Active Learning — Water-Quality Education for Youth at the Annual Natural Resources Conservation Workshop Field Day, Tifton, Georgia
Smith, Kristin Ling
Gregory, M. Brian
Wood, B. Joel
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The Natural Resources Conservation Workshop is held annually at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia. The events of the weeklong workshop for high school students focus on four major areas of Georgia’s natural resources and include soil and water, wildlife, coastal resources, and forestry. Although much of the instruction is provided in a classroom setting, a field day is hosted each year that offers hands-on exercises to reinforce classroom lessons. For the past 3 years, interactive exercises in water pollution and aquatic ecology have been used to instruct students about water-quality issues. In the pollution exercise, each student plays a part in a story about a pristine lake that becomes more polluted as development occurs over time. The objective of the exercise is to foster the recognition that everyone contributes to water pollution; and, therefore, everyone is responsible for prevention and clean up. Students also learn more about the complexity of aquatic systems by donning waders and capturing and identifying aquatic invertebrates. This is an eye-opening experience for many students who were not even aware that these animals exist! These exercises increase students’ comprehension of water-resource issues, awareness of the roles and responsibilities of each person with regard to water resources, and appreciation for the complexity and diversity of aquatic systems.