Category Archives: Education

Become a Volunteer Teacher at the Outdoor Classroom!

Share your love of the environment with students in grades K-5. Hands-on activities this season focus on salmon in the ecosystem!

Volunteer Training Options:

  • Friday, Sept. 15 – 9:00am – 2:00pm
  • Tuesday, Sept. 19 – 9:00-2:00pm

Lunch will be provided. 

For information and to sign up contact Lori O’Brien at lori.whidbeywatersheds@gmail.com

The Maxwelton Outdoor Classroom is at 7015 Maxwelton Road, Clinton. It is 3 miles west of Hwy. 525. Phone: 360-579-1272

Spring at the Outdoor Classroom

                    Rufous_hummingbird_female Poecile-atricapilla-001  Saltmarsh_sharp_tailed_sparrow

The forest is awakening with the sound of bird songs and spring blossoms!  This spring the Outdoor Classroom theme is Birds in the Ecosystem.  Along with visiting students we will be exploring the important role bird’s play in the ecosystem. Spring training for volunteer instructors is scheduled for Wednesday, April 13th from 9:00-2. You don’t have to be an expert just be willing to share your love of learning with young people! Our goal is to increase student awareness and inspire them to consider the positive impact they can make on the environment. Here is a glimpse our spring activities: 

  • While exploring the trails students will compare the forest habitat, meadow habitat and stream habitat. They will consider how birds use the components of each habitat and how birds support each habitat.
  • Students will investigate different bird beaks and determine the relationship between a bird’s beak and the type of food they eat. Students will contemplate how specialized beaks are an advantage and disadvantage to a bird’s ability to survive.
  • Students will discover why birds build nests, as well as the methods and materials they use to construct their nests. Students will experience the complexities of nest building.
  • Students will demonstrate their learning by designing and creating imaginary birds that include adaptations to help them thrive in their environment. Students will describe what advantages of their designed bird and how their chosen design elements help their bird thrive in its habitat.

LMS’s Oceanography Research Project

Thanks to a generous grant from the Tulalip Tribe this school year, the South Whidbey 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th graders have been participating in an Oceanographic Research Project in the Langley Marina.

Students regularly attended the Langley Marina from November through May for hands-on science lessons! Students collected water quality samples and investigated pH, temperature, salinity, and clarity. Each field expedition was followed by a classroom lab during which students analyzed their data.

Grade Level Curriculum Targets 
5th Grade Salmon in the Ecosystem
6th Grade Plankton Populations and Environmental Stressors
7th Grade Ocean Acidification
8th Grade Identifying Systems in a Marine Environment
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Students leaving Langley Marina for their boat-based exploration.

IMG_6204 IMG_6228 Here are some quotes from the LMS 7th Grade Students who participated:

“The 7th grade of Langley Middle School went to the Langley Marina to board a boat. The boat traveled to three points in the Salish Sea to collect data on pH, temperature, salinity, and clarity of the water… The experience was great even for me, and I get seasick often! Learning hands on isn’t only a way to get out of textbooks, but a more memorable experience.” – Jefferey J.

“I got to go on a boat to learn about our Salish Sea. It was so much fun and educational. I feel like I learned a lot more on the boat and at the marina than I would have in the classroom. I personally learn better hands on and I can remember it better, too, if I can see and touch it.” – Sarah C.

“Before this program I had never been on a boat, ever heard of dissolved oxygen or salinity, let alone have a clue of what pH was, or ever had the privilege of ever seeing marine life. Thanks to this program I learned and got to all of this in less than a year!”  – Jonathon E.

  “I have learned so much about Marine Biology throughout the year. For me, our hands-on learning is so much better than reading it out of a textbook. Last Friday on the boat, I learned that a CTD is a machine that you drop in the water and it collects a lot of data about the water quality. CTD stands for conductivity, temperature, depth. I would never have remembered that if I read it out of a book, but I actually used a CTD on the boat and it was really fun. We also used two different kinds of plankton nets on the boat. One was to catch phytoplankton, and the other was for zooplankton. The things we do are interesting to learn about, but amazing to actually do ourselves. It is a huge honor to be able to do these things.” –  Annika L.

“I was very thankful for all the work we were able to do this year on oceanography in science class. My favorite part was when we went on the boat and were able to use all of the scientific equipment. I really liked how on the boat we were able to use the equipment and it was like a real-world situation for future use. It was really cool that we had the privilege to learn about oceanography and use the scientific equipment and learn more about our local marine environment.” –  Mallory D.

“It’s not all the time that you get an opportunity like this, especially when you have a college professor as one of the teachers. He didn’t talk down to us like kids. He talked like we were adults and that helped me learn even more.” – Aaron D.

“I think this is important for LMS students to be educated about because it is teaching youth how and why we need to take care of every part of our environment, even if you think it may not affect you.” – Hanna D.

“I think field-based education is important to us for many reasons. One reason is that it teaches us (7th grade students) about real life problems happening right around us. Another reason is that we can hear information from experts, which will lead us into thinking about getting a degree in ecology.” – Karyna H.

Salmon Experiment!

        Whidbey Watershed Stewards is partnering with the South Whidbey School’s Foundation to provide The Salmon in the Classroom project. Fifth grade stewards are raising salmon in their school aquarium. Students will release the salmon into the Maxwelton Creek at the Outdoor Classroom in late April. If you stop by the school you’ll notice students of all ages peering into the aquarium with a sense of wonder. Students are witnessing the amazing transformation of Coho salmon from egg to alevin to fry. Student project leaders are teaching their younger peers how vital salmon are to our ecosystem. The project has instilled in students a great sense of connection to one of our most precious resources. Ask a South Whidbey Elementary student about the project and share in their delight!

Through coordination between Whidbey Watershed Stewards and South Whidbey Elementary, representatives got to travel to the hatchery to get fertilized Coho Salmon eggs to hatch and release from our amazing Outdoor Classroom. Watch a highlight video of the Hatchery Field Trip from early 2015, thanks to WWS, Lori O’Brien, the students and to Mr. Lavasser!

Salmon-Field-TripKids-Hatchery

Highlights – Research, Outreach and Restoration

Research, Outreach and Restoration 

  • Smith and Minor Island Aquatic Reserve:
    As of January 2014 we are shifting our efforts away from the forage fish survey and going to concentrate on a research/outreach program centered around the kelp harvesting within the Reserve. Our Citizen Committee will be meeting in the next few months to create the program. Let us know if your interested, we are looking for more volunteers. Stay tuned as we protect our Aquatic resources!
  • Help for Whidbey Shorelines:
    WWS continues to work with ECO-Net, a collaborative of like-minded organizations a group supported by the Puget Sound Parternship to encourage participation in efforts to save Puget Sound to develop and deliver programs that inform the public about WI shorelines. This winter we are building relationships, building awareness with the community through events and by giving presentations. If you would like a presentation at your month meeting or event about ECO-Net please let us know. Also making plans for next spring — Earth Ocean Month. Let us know if you want to participate!
  • Maxwelton Water Quality:
    WWS is continuing to work with Island County on an educational outreach program to improve water quality in the Maxwelton Watershed. Our objective is to open the shellfish beds once again in Useless Bay.
  • Restoring Wetlands:
    Private stewardship properties:
    Dalzell Wetland Restoration – Installed habitat log piles and perch poles, removed drainage tiles to restore wetland hydrology, and planted over 2,000 plants. This winter we install 4,000 more plants! Join us!
  • Assessing salmon viability:
    WWS is continuing the spawning survey and smolt counts in Maxwelton Creek.
  • Technical Advisory Support:
    We supported development of the Shoreline Master Plan, Fish and Wildlife Critical Areas update and the Salmon Recovery Program. There is a lot of hard work behind the restoration and protection of our community resources.