It’s not often that teenagers are able to spend a school day on a boat instead of in a classroom, but students from The School Without Walls High School in Washington, D.C., had that opportunity recently. As the high school students traveled along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, they tested water quality, identified fish, examined maps, and surveyed bird diversity.
[speeding boat in water]
(Alonzo Beverly) Being on a boat all day does beat being in a classroom.
(Sam Woolford, Chesapeake Bay Foundation) All of this water that we’re floating on, right now eventually will be in the Chesapeake Bay.
Today, we had a group of high school seniors. They were environmental science students from The School Without Walls, a D.C. public school. This valley over here, it comes together in Harper’s Ferry. It’s called the Shenandoah River.
They were here to learn about our waterways, about the Potomac River and the Anacostia River and all the connections to the Chesapeake Bay.
(Sam) All the water that you use that comes out of your sink in D.C. and in northern Virginia and in Maryland, it comes from the Potomac River.
(David Tucker, Chesapeake Bay Foundation) The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s mission is to save the bay, and we need to be educating our next generation of environmental stewards.
(Sam) You guys think the water looks the same color here?
We did some water quality testing. They tested the nutrient levels in the water.
(Ruby McQuie) Time 5 minutes for the reaction to take place.
(Sam) They tested the turbidity, which is how cloudy or murky the water is.
They were lowering a disk into the water and measuring how far down they could see the disk before it disappeared.
[net hits deck]
The last thing we did today was do a survey of what’s living in the water. They can touch them. They can pick them up. They can look at them.
A lot of them smell them.
(David) Seeing the look on the kids’ faces when we bring fish and other species on board … I think that’s something you can only do when you’re out actually in the field experiencing it, not just reading it in a text book or talking about it in the classroom.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation wants to ensure that anybody in the region, anyone in the watershed, has an opportunity to go on one of these trips regardless of socio-economic status. Wells Fargo has been a fantastic supporter of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
(Sam) How does the land use connect to the water?
(Anna Bard Powell, Wells Fargo) Wells Fargo has provided over $150,000 to support D.C. environmental education programs with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, because it really marries our commitment to K‑12 education as well as environmental stewardship.
(David Brewer) We’ve learned the risk of the watershed with the many pollutants.
(Alonzo) I’ve learned about nitrates and turbidity and I’ve learned about the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed, which is like 64,000 square miles.
(Ruby) We live in this area and we benefit from the watershed here. It’s been polluted for many years and it starts with us to help clean it up.
[water rushing, birds chirping]
The field trip was through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s environmental education program, which is designed to educate, engage, and empower students to make a difference by giving them opportunities to experience and enjoy local waterways in the mid-Atlantic region.
“They can see what’s damaging the waterways, what they can do, and it gives them the opportunity to make positive change, to ensure the water is healthier for all of us,” said David Tucker, director of major giving for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Washington, D.C. “We also ensure that socioeconomic status doesn’t affect a school’s decision to come out, thanks to donors like Wells Fargo. We want to reach as many schools as possible.”
Since 2008, Wells Fargo has provided $163,500 for the foundation’s various education programs across the mid-Atlantic region — including $27,500 to the education program in D.C. since 2015.
“It is such a unique opportunity for inner-city kids to learn about the natural environment that surrounds us,” said Anna Bard, community relations manager for Wells Fargo. “A lot of these kids have never been on a boat before. One thing they’ll gain is a personal responsibility for taking care of our Chesapeake Bay watershed. Just because you don’t see it, things like littering in a storm drain affect the watershed.
“What we do really matters,” she said. “That’s important for our kids to learn, and it provides hands-on experience they would not usually come into contact with. Education and environmental stewardship are two of Wells Fargo’s primary focus areas in the greater Washington, D.C., area, so this is a win-win.”