The B-WET Upper Susquehanna Project

Beginning in July 2015, the New York Geographic Alliance has been working with NOAA on the B-WET Upper Susquehanna Project. Our goal is to train teachers on watershed education, and to help them created a program for their schools that can be self-sustaining. The grant is for two years, and we are now entering the second year of the project. During the first year, we held an introductory workshop in Cortland (July 2015), a Mapping and Geospatial Workshop in Ithaca (TST BOCES in Nov. 2015), and we signed on four schools as partners. Tim McDonnell met with these schools in January 2016. They will receive resources to help in their own watershed programs, including the use of the NYGA Water Testing Kit, topographic maps, and access to Pictometry imagery. 

On April 7th, the B-WET team returned to the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES in Ithaca for our second Mapping and Geospatial Workshop. We worked with teachers that are partnering with us from Ithaca, TST BOCES, DCMO BOCES, and Owego-Apalachin with more advanced training on how to use topographic maps and online technology with their students. They will developing a program to fit the needs of their classrooms to be implimented by 2017. We also had new teachers from Dryden High School in attendance. Susan Hoskins worked with them on topographic maps, Andy Mendola showed them the power of Pictometry imagery, and Mike Jabot and Heather Pierce introduced them to ArcGIS Online. (Shown below is a photo of the teachers working with topographic maps and aerial photographs to show change over time). 

Photo above: Watershed Model built by students at Seton Catholic High School in Binghamton, studying topographic maps at B-WET Outdoor Workshop at the Rogers Center, Beth Hoag's Bloomfield students do water quality testing at Boughton Park. Bottom Row: Don Gates working with Young Naturalists in Manlius, Learning GIS at the Mapping and Geospatial Workshop in Ithaca. 

Judging from the evaluations from this workshop, the teachers are interested in learning more about geospatial technology. There will be more workshops coming in the fall of 2016! 

In May 2016, we partnered with the Rogers Environmental Education Center to hold the B-WET Outdoor Watershed Workshop. It featured some basic training on modeling watersheds (led by Tim McDonnell) and looking at changes in watersheds over time using topographic maps and aerial photographs (led by Susan Hoskins). After lunch, we went outside to do a BioBlitz around the pond (led by Jennifer Markham) and then water-testing in the Chenango River (led by Stephen Vermette). The teachers and 4-H leaders who participated in this workshop were very positive about the experience. Some of them will be working with us in the fall. 

On August 4th and 5th,  we will hold the B-WET Upper Susquehanna Summer Institute at the TST BOCES in Ithaca. The first day is for teachers new to our program, and the second is for our partners and other teachers experienced in watershed education. Both days will include training in the outdoors (at Sapsucker Woods and at Robert Treman State Park). For more information, read over the description in the Events Section of this website. You can register online through MyLearningPlan. If you have questions, contact Tim McDonnell or call the NYGA Office at (585)-292-2398. If you are interested in being a partner school in the B-WET program in 2016-17, you should definitely register for this institute! Our goal is to help you get your students working outdoors and to plan a meaningful stewardship project for your community. 

The B-WET New York Staff (Tim McDonnell, Heather Pierce, Jon Little, Stephen Vermette, Susan Hoskins, Mike Jabot, Andy Mendola, Jennifer Markham) met in June to plan for upcoming projects. We will be issuing our newly revised training manuals in the summer, Lessons on Watershed Education and Water-Testing Kit Guide. They will be given to participants at the summer institute free of charge. If you have been trained at previous workshops, you can receive a copy upon request. 

Finally, since the Susquehanna River and its tributaries are part of the Chespeake Bay Watershed, we believe that it is important to show how the system changes from the headwaters in New York to the estuary in Maryland. Look for an article discussing this important topic very soon!

Map of the Chesapeake Watershed (created by Heather Pierce). Note that the headwaters are mostly in New York State.