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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - YMCA Outdoor Facility Canton, Georgia, USA

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YMCA Outdoor Facility Canton, Georgia, USA
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Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: Ball Ground
Posts: 1
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Changing the World, One Drop at a Time
This past summer, sun scorched our scalps and heat pulsated off the ground as I traipsed down a road from the outdoor YMCA facility to Lake Allatoona, hand in hand with a small girl I had just met in one of eight summer camp water quality workshops I helped teach. Combining our varied and unique talents, ranging from mad scientists to outgoing communicators, our team of Canton Creek Monitors led the way, with me in the midst of a group of thirty grinning, animated kids (many underprivileged), just itching to see the lake water change color in our Dissolved Oxygen test. We had already: tossed around an inflated Earth ball to show how much water exists compared to land and the dearth of fresh water (less than 1%) on the planet; built a river out of blue sheets and plush fish and proceeded to pollute said river with the trappings of “civilization”; picked through laminated leaves to discover the mysterious world of water bugs; and, in the Fatal Food Game, raced to pick the right brown paper bag with a picture of a living animal, not a corpse with plastic in its belly. Like me, other members of my group had a certain child take a shine to them and latch on like a monkey. My own little buddy beamed up at me, forehead glistening with sweat, and exclaimed, “That was AWESOME!”
Since 2010 through the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Program, we have monitored Canton Creek (as well as two unnamed tributaries to Canton Creek and the Etowah River, which we have since adopted) and ensured its waters’ safety and health. What began as a simple monthly science lab has blossomed into a cornucopia of opportunities, from community service, to leadership, to educating others. We never would have guessed how important this project has become and how much we have impacted our community. We christened ourselves the Canton Creek Monitors and proceeded to attempt to change the world, one drop at a time.
Applying techniques from an Eric Eckl workshop on “Water Words that Work,” I began disseminating information to the public about the importance of monitoring our local water quality. Writing about my activities not only opened my mind and fueled a passion for protecting Canton Creek, but also spawned several new opportunities for both our group as a whole and myself. As our confidence in our abilities has grown, we have invested countless hours in not only monitoring Canton Creek and two tributaries, but in training other students in monitoring their own streams, hosting Creek Clean Ups, writing numerous articles, and being awarded a $1400 Earth Savers Club grant in 2012 to continue our efforts. We have also educated more than a hundred youth about water quality issues and Adopt-A-Stream creek monitoring through having them join us in our monthly monitoring, teaching youth at YMCA summer camps, and offering other workshops and training opportunities. Despite our tenacity in enlightening local youth, the glacial process of motivating others to commit can prove quite frustrating. Nevertheless, we have inspired a devoted group of teens to join us regularly in protecting Canton Creek, and in 2013 two groups of those teens split off from our creeks and assumed the responsibility of monitoring their own sites each month, which development we consider a great success to our efforts.
Although we are focused on small, local creeks that may seem insignificant compared to the global environmental issues permeating our planet, we realize that we all must start somewhere to make a difference. We cannot be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the environmental problems our planet faces. If we do not attempt to protect the health of Canton Creek and enlighten others about the importance of water quality, no one else will, as every environmental volunteer knows. We have learned that true progress comes from our power to change the world gradually. If we did not monitor Canton Creek, the stream’s safety and how, as a tributary to the Etowah River, its quality affects Metro Atlanta’s drinking water, would remain an enigma. But we decided that spending a few hours each month monitoring the creek’s water quality, and attempting to motivate others to do so, constitutes a worthwhile endeavor. While that may not always seem the case when we stand knee deep in frigid water, pelted by rain, attempting to gather the stream water into fragile glass vials, those moments indeed change the world.
· Date: December 31, 2013 · Views: 3282 · File size: 22.6kb, 2919.9kb · : 3264 x 2448 ·
Hours Volunteered: 714
Volunteers: 20
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 15 & 9 to 45
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