Spartanburg Water supports K-8 watershed education through Watershed Ecology Center

January 16, 2019

Spartanburg Water presented a $20,000 grant to the Watershed Ecology Center for use in teaching watershed protection and preservation for 25,000-plus area students from kindergarten through middle school, not only in all public schools, but also private and home schools.

Spartanburg Water continues to support community engagement programs that actively protect area watersheds by awarding the efforts of the Watershed Ecology Center. This successful, ongoing initiative serves to collect, analyze and disseminate sound scientific information on the ecology of the region. Special emphasis is placed on water conservation, watershed education, water quality and the study of organisms living in the area encompassed by a watershed.

The grant allows the program to continue to expand, adding instructors to teach more groups of students, said Dr. Jack Turner, Director of the Watershed Ecology Center. “We have done nothing but grow since we started in 2001. This year we hope to reach more than 25,000 students,” he said.

Dr. Turner said the center started with programs that reached 3,800 kids in county schools and Spartanburg Water has been one of its partners from the start. The center now has eight instructors, both full and part time, that administer 56 different programs to the nine grade levels.

“The experience for students is invaluable,” said Ken Tuck, Spartanburg Water Drinking Water Treatment Manager. “Educating students, our future customers, about the significance of our watersheds is something we see as very important. It is also quite important to provide teachers with resources and enhanced training to support a water-themed curriculum – the Watershed Ecology Center is a leader in this field by supplying educational kits, training opportunities and encouraging teachers to adopt curriculum that enhances the learning experience.”

In addition to the classroom programs, including the Project WET curriculum for training educators, the Watershed Ecology Center offers several public participation programs. The Center’s public participation programs include an Adopt-A-Stream program. To date, the Watershed Ecology Center has focused many of these efforts around Spartanburg Water’s reservoirs and the watershed.

The volunteer stream monitoring program initiated in Spartanburg County includes a training and certification process for citizens interested in participating in a more rigorous and scientific approach to water quality monitoring at a local level. Inspired by the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream Program, the Watershed Ecology Center focuses on training more teams to support a model program in South Carolina.