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A Message from Program Coordinator, Tom Crawford

Updated: Sep 9, 2022


Working as the Coordinator of River Watch is a dream come true for me. As a child of the water, I hold the lakes, rivers, and streams of Minnesota close to my heart. Nowhere else offers me the peace, beauty, and joy that Minnesota waters hold. I have long wished to engage other young people in caring for their local waters, and with some perseverance, and a great deal of good timing, I have found myself in a position to do just that.

My vision for River Watch is threefold:

First, I see River Watch as a way to involve students of all racial, social, and economic backgrounds in the present and future health of Minnesota’s waters. We can only achieve our goal of clean water if the effort actively includes input from traditionally marginalized communities, who are often the people experiencing the worst effects of water pollution.

By focusing on:

  • the knowledge surrounding water quality topics,

  • the scientific practice of collecting field data

  • the investigation of potential causes and effects on water health

We work to ensure each student leaves River Watch with the skills and information that enable them to be a more effective steward and clean water advocate in their community.

Second, I see River Watch as a program that can reach students in all grades. Currently, River Watch works with high school classes, but as our capacity expands, so will the grades we include in the program. I have already created a water curriculum geared towards younger students that is being used by the Green Crew for their day camp. Moving into the schools, the ideal implementation of this curriculum includes high school River Watchers as the leaders of lessons and activities for the younger group. By involving all ages of students in the education around clean water, we can hope to build a culture of water stewardship at each school.

Third, I envision a program that impacts students beyond the walls of the classroom. Water is a critical part of every person’s life and always will be. Learning how one’s actions negatively impact water quality is the first step to changing one’s behaviors. Learning how to study water quality is the first step towards identifying the problems facing our waters. Learning how to analyze water data is the first step to advocating for solutions. River Watch is positioned to serve as the basis for engaging the future water stewards and scientists of Minnesota.

Finally, I wanted to thank each teacher and student that participated in the spring sampling season. You all did great work collecting data throughout the basin. We can’t wait to get back out in the field collecting data again. Until then, I hope you get to spend some time on the water.

Tom Crawford

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