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Water: Middle School

Exercise III. Adopt-A-Stream

The following activity was taken from materials developed by the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation Exit EPA Disclaimer .

Your class can become Streamkeepers. Follow the five-step stream adoption process outlined here to develop your own Adopt-A-Stream program. This process is used as a model for stream stewardship programs across the country. By following these steps, you and your class will be well on your way to becoming Streamkeepers.

1. Investigate Your Watershed

Take some time to explore the area around your schoolyard. Is there a stream nearby? Begin the process by choosing a stream for your Streamkeeping efforts. Once you have chosen a stream, collect and study all the information you can possibly find about the stream of interest and its watershed. Find out about the stream's history, geology, demography, land use, fauna, and flora.

Some Possible Sources of Information
  • Local conservation districts
  • Community groups
  • Knowledgeable fishers and long-term residents
  • City and county land-use planning departments
  • City and county water management departments
  • City and county storm water and wastewater divisions
  • State department of fish and wildlife
  • State department of environmental quality
  • State department of natural resources
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Public or school library

Ask these groups for watershed maps, watershed management plans, aerial photographs, fish or wildlife inventories, and any other data or information you can think of.

2. Organize a Streamkeeping Group

Ask around to see if other people in your local area are interested in working to protect and enhance the condition of your stream and watershed. Try to include as many different types of people as you can. Make your group official by giving it a name, like "Friends of North Creek," "Little Bear Creek Alliance," or "Swamp Creek Streamkeepers."

Include a Variety of Groups
  • Business people
  • Teachers
  • Neighbors
  • Scout groups
  • Classmates
  • Politicians
  • Religious groups
  • Others

3. Identify Short- and Long-Term Goals

Next, establish short-term and long-term goals with your group. Short-term goals describe what you would like to accomplish over the next 6 months to 1 year. Long-term goals describe what you would like to accomplish over the next 10 to 20 years.

Examples of Short-Term Goals
  • Conduct a watershed inventory (gather information on watershed)
  • Develop and start a stream monitoring program to collect physical, chemical, and biological data on our stream
  • Stencil storm drains throughout watershed with "Dump No Waste, Drains to Stream"
  • Create an educational flyer to inform streamside landowners about stream do's and don'ts
  • Create and place stream identification signs
  • Conduct a community stream cleanup
Examples of Long-Term Goals
  • Maintain fish and wildlife populations
  • Protect remaining stream and wetland habitat
  • Restore and enhance degraded stream and wetland sites
  • Lobby for changes in land-use laws to afford more protection to streams and wetlands

4. Develop an Action Plan

Starting with your short-term goals, work out an action plan for each goal. This action plan usually answers the questions who, what (the goal), where, when, how, how much, resources available, and deadlines. Try to delegate responsibilities evenly to all members of the group. Give them tasks and ask them to report their findings at the next meeting.

5. Become a Streamkeeper

Put your plan into action. Carry out all the actions to achieve your short- and long-term goals. As a Streamkeeper, you become responsible for your adopted stream. You and your group will watch over the stream, monitor the health of the stream and surrounding watershed, and adjust your action plan according to your stream's changing needs.

The Adopt-A-Stream Foundation can keep you informed and up-to-date about Streamkeeping activities, programs, and materials.


Middle Schools  |  Join a Stream Team!  |  Exercises: I  |  II  |  III  |  IV  |  V  | 

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