Youth Watershed Education and Protection Projects
It is Great Basin Outdoor School’s goal to connect young people and families to our Truckee River watershed through education and stewardship projects. They help involve the Reno-Sparks community in Snapshot Day, an annual citizen science event collecting and reporting data along the Truckee River and its tributaries to help monitor water quality over time. During Great Basin Outdoor School’s Adventure Day Camps and school science camps, students learn about our watershed right in the Truckee River and on a research boat on Lake Tahoe and volunteer on stewardship projects such as revegetating with native plants and covering bare ground with mulch to reduce erosion and sedimentation into Lake Tahoe and collecting and auditing litter along the Truckee River to help protect water quality.
They will co-host citizen science water sampling activities with a Reno-area school during Snapshot Day at Whites Creek in May and participate in planning and preparations for Snapshot Day sampling at other sites. Spring and summer Adventure Day Camps at the River School Farm on the Truckee River in Reno for six to twelve-year-olds includes water studies by the river, ecology, litter collection, art and crafts with recycled materials, and frequent guest presenters on science topics. During our science camps for school groups on the shore of Lake Tahoe, activities incorporating watershed education will supplement instructional content delivered by naturalist educators and study aboard a Tahoe research boat. Students build watershed models of the Lake Tahoe Basin and Tahoe-Truckee watershed to visualize the movement and direction of water from freshwater to endorheic basin. Bioassessment of aquatic macroinvertebrates is a favorite activity both at day camp and science camps for schools. Projects such as revegetating with native plants and mulching to reduce erosion promote lifelong stewardship values and environmental awareness of the Tahoe-Truckee watershed.
Projects requesting support meet multiple grant priorities of the Truckee River Fund, fulfilling priority VII. Priority I on aquatic invasive species is supported by our teaching aboard the research boat on Tahoe and student projects to remove invasive Eurasian water milfoil washed up on the beach to prevent it from washing back into the lake and repopulating. Priority II for watershed improvements is supported by the spreading of mulch to reduce sediment erosion on affected soils and excess water drainage into Lake Tahoe. Priority III, local stormwater improvements, is supported by watershed protection projects to mitigate runoff from Highway 50 through Camp Galilee which drains directly into the lake. For priority IV, students will help with re-vegetation of native plants at Camp Galilee to provide resiliency to upland soils that are vulnerable to destruction from future wildfires and excess runoff. As an educational nonprofit, all our programs teach stewardship and environmental awareness, priority VI. Children learn about our watershed, do Project WET activities, dipnet for aquatic macroinvertebrates as indicators of water quality, and do river clean-ups and the projects already mentioned promoting environmental literacy and values of stewardship and protection of the Tahoe-Truckee watershed. Stakeholder assets and participation, priority VIII, are leveraged from other nonprofits and natural resource agencies for program support, guest presenters, research boat, program sites, etc. for watershed education and protection projects.