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Aquatic Ecosystems? YES Please!

As students go back to school and teachers prepare for another academic year, we at the Catamount Institute are gearing up for another semester of YES club! Our Young Environmental Stewards club will be held in around 11 local elementary schools. Clubs are taught by teachers in the schools who are trained by the Catamount Institute in that semester’s curriculum. The Catamount Institute provides materials, lesson plans, and snacks to each club, and helps out with transportation for field trips. The club is an amazing opportunity for kids who are already interested in science and nature to dive deeper and for kids who never knew they enjoyed science and nature to learn about it in a fun, engaging way.

This semester the theme is aquatic ecosystems. This means that students will be studying everything to do with water! This subject is so relevant to the place and time we live in, and there are so many amazing lesson possibilities, I had trouble choosing which lessons to include in the semester. Here are a few of my favorites:

Fly fishing family day! YES students and their families head up to our sister organization, the Catamount Center in Woodland Park, where they will learn to fly fish with the help of volunteers from Trout Unlimited and Angler’s Covey In addition to learning to fly fish, students will learn to tie flies imitating local insects which fish want to eat. Family days are always a blast because parents, siblings, and other family members get a glimpse of what their child is learning in YES club. It helps them understand how their student functions in the YES club environment and lets them see YES club in action.

The other lessons during the semester are equally as exciting. Clubs will tour a drinking water or wastewater treatment plant, see a fish dissection, and do an aquatic macroinvertebrate survey!

Finding Macroinvertebrates

In addition to these lessons, students perform water quality tests, testing for pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and turbidity (cloudiness). They participate in a simulation of the Colorado River, learning where all of the water in the river ends up (hint: it’s not the Gulf of California). Guests speakers from Colorado College teach students about hydropower, and they have the opportunity to visit the Colorado Springs Utilities xeriscape (low water) garden to learn how we can conserve water in our lawns and gardens in the arid front range of Colorado.

The aquatic ecosystems semester is chock full of lessons in which students get to actively engage with water in various forms. They end the semester with a more in-depth understanding of this precious resource, learning how scarce it is, where it comes from and ends up, and what we as humans can do to protect it.

If you want more information about YES Club and how you can start one at your school contact me! Lydia Ballantine at ballantine@catamountinstitute.org

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Catamount Institute
740 West Caramillo St.
Colo Spgs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 471-0910
Fax: (719) 471-0910
Website: www.catamountinstitute.org
Email: info@catamountinstitute.org