The USC Upstate Watershed Ecology Center (WEC) was recently awarded a $16,000 grant by Spartanburg Water to help continue its mission of encouraging community watershed awareness.
On Wednesday, December 15, 2021, Spartanburg Water presented the Watershed Ecology Center with a check for the grant, which represented $8,000 contributions from both the Commission of Public Works of the City of Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District Commission.
WEC’s mission is to encourage appreciation of our local watershed through education, experience, and community outreach. Special emphasis is placed on water conservation, watershed education, water quality, and the study of organisms living in the area encompassed by a watershed. Last year, programs that focus on water served thousands of students in both (limited) classroom and virtual formats for students throughout Spartanburg County.
The success of last year, despite the second year of COVID-19 restrictions, showcases the resilience and adaptability of programmatic efforts of WEC to reach children and adults through multimedia formats.
WEC’s annual goal for 2022 is to reach 22,000 K-8 students through watershed-based, hands-on educational programming. In addition to expanding the virtual classroom, WEC endeavors to promote other programs related to watershed awareness by expanding monitoring in the upper regions of the Pacolet River Watershed through the Adopt-A-Stream program, a credentialed citizens monitoring network.
As part of its commitment to education, WEC will continue to facilitate teacher success in the classroom moving forward, by providing tools to incorporate both virtual formats, individual student supplies, and more hands on education of science and math; as well as providing teachers with an in-depth understanding of the natural world and provide them guidance on the use of STEM tools to support their curriculum for students.
There are also plans to continue leveraging technological innovations with the enhancement of a virtual reality curriculum that supplements student’s learning and understanding of the natural world. With this technology, the WEC can bring interactive programs and concepts into the classroom such as virtual water and wastewater treatment plant tours, and “virtual field trips” for various watershed ecosystems in South Carolina.
“We are once again proud to support the efforts of such an important educational partner in our community,” said Sue Schneider, Chief Executive Officer at Spartanburg Water. “It is essential for our community to have the opportunity to experience and learn more about our watershed. Students and educators receive enormous benefit each year through the educational support of The Watershed Ecology Center.”