Settling In

Yesterday, I’ll admit, I drove the 5 miles across town to work. My excuses:

  1. my first day interning
  2. well over 80 degrees by 9am
  3. a hilly ride into town

Added up, well, this girl took her car. However, this morning I woke up less stressed about what would await me upon arriving to work and I hopped on my trusty bicycle and pedaled into the office instead. Although 7:30am was still too toasty for my taste, I was able to bike in workout clothes and change into work attire after my ride. The trip left me feeling energized and excited to make my bicycle—a.k.a. Shadow—my prime mode of transportation.

Today was another day full of new information and getting acquainted with the Project WET Foundation’s work and how I will fit in this summer.

I began my day researching studies to back up (or disprove) the statement, “When we educate children, we educate parents.” The idea that children take home the things they learn and in turn educate their parents is not a foreign one. However, it is also not well documented in scientific literature. This article in the Guardian, Green children re-educate their parents, discusses how many children in the United Kingdom go home from their Eco-Schools and end up introducing their parents to environmental practices ranging from recycling and reducing water use to using non-motor transportation whenever possible. The article talks about children’s ability to influence their parents in ways media and politicians cannot. This idea is actually documented quite well, but the more specific focus on child education’s influence on parents’ is not easy to find in scientific literature. This research question—Does educating children in fact educate their parents?—will be part of my focus and time during this internship.

Discover the Yellowstone River

After some time spent researching, I sat in on a staff meeting that left me feeling encouraged and excited. Against the scenic Montanan mountain view out the window, Molly updated the group on the status of Project WET’s latest children’s book, “Discover the Yellowstone River.” The 16-page booklet takes a water-science-based approach to teaching children about the Yellowstone River’s hydrology and its management challenges and opportunities. The draft Molly passed around was beautiful—visually and intellectually! Peter Grosshauser’s illustrations are stunning, as usual (he illustrates nearly all Project WET publications). What delighted me even more was the content.

I just finished a graduate course on River Restoration and learned that many people do not grasp (or want to acknowledge) that rivers are dynamic and tend to not stay in one channel. Evidence of managers historically overlooking this fact is littered across watersheds where endless effort and resources are spent trying to keep a river in a stationary channel, usually because something was built where the river now wants to go. It makes me wonder: what would river managers have done differently if they had encountered a book like “Discover the Yellowstone River” in their youth? Would the pages on river dynamics have influenced later decisions to develop in a floodplain? Would the page where children fill out their own hydrograph for the Yellowstone River have influenced their decision? I am truly thrilled there are materials like this out there capable of engaging children in active science-based learning. “Discover the Yellowstone River” is on track for publishing soon and will be available later this summer.



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