The River Mile is open to all teachers and students in the Columbia River Watershed in the United States and Canada.
To join the network follow thislink to our Join Us! Map Journal. Place a marker on your school or outdoor classroom location and then fill in your group's information in the pop-up box. You are now part of the Network!
Join the network of educators, students, resource managers and environmental educators throughout the Columbia River Watershed!
Participation in The River Mile is very flexible.For those already doing field investigations or resource projects with an agency, the community, or on school property, you really don't have to do anything new! Utilize The River Mile's essential question (How do relationships among components of an ecosystem affect watershed health?) to tie all of your projects together. Resources, training and networking opportunities are available to expand projects and share and learn from other groups. No one needs to stop what they are doing, just tweek it to have real world meaning beyond the project and share with others in the network.
For groups that have never done field investigations or do not have any existing projects, it is recommended that your first site visits focus on observation skills and getting to know the site. To save time, observation skills can be developed while at school. Once a group gets to know their site they are encouraged to develop field investigations or projects of special interest to their group and site. You'll want to participate in additional training in project-based learning, field investigations and natural resource field methodology as you move into more in-depth experiences. Check out Pacific Education Institute's website for outstanding resources to help you.
The goal is to have multiple grade levels working with the same site so during each site visit students learn new skills and information. Younger students learn observation skills they need when they are working with the more complex investigations in the higher grades. If a site is on Lake Roosevelt, National Park Service staff provides assistance and guidance in the development of projects or recommendations for other resources and materials.
Participation in networking is one of the key components for participation in The River Mile. If you haven't already, like The River Mile's Facebook page. There are actually two of them. One is a group the other is a page. Also join Wiggio and The River Mile groups. This is a great way to communicate with other network participants. In addition there are electronic newsletters and webinars. Once your registration has been received you should start seeing email notices fairly regularly. If you don't start receiving these within a week or so, please contact The River Mile's coordinator.
All groups provide a GPS location of their site. If you join by placing your site or school on the Join Us! map, this is already taken care of. It is also encourage to create an ArcGIS online map of your site, facebook page or webpage/website about your project(s) or site, which are shared with the world at large through The River Mile's networking tools. These tools, which help link projects together, tell the stories of the watershed and show the distribution of participation.
For students to get the most out of their participation it is recommended that you conduct a minimum of 2 site visits per year with your students. These site visits need to be in different seasons as well. To really be able to detect changes at your site monthly visits are necessary. Your first site visit is an initial descriptive site visit. What do you see and where do you see it? Your next site visits can be field investigations you or your students design. You might also choose to participate in The River Mile Crayfish Study.
For all of your site visits, data collection and sharing is important. Collect basic water quality samples (temperature, pH, conductivity, turbidity, and dissolved oxygen if you have a meter), identify who uses the site and how (plants, animals and humans). Then share your data through your ArcGIS On-line map(s), reports, newsletter articles, webinar presentations and other citizen science data sharing projects.
If you are in NE Washington you might participate in some additional activities such as The River Mile's Natural Resource Career Skills Day, Student Science Symposium or the Balde Eagle Festival. If you are not close to these events you might look around your local watershed for similar activities which support your project.
How do I find and select a site?
If you don't already have an appropriate site (with water that eventually gets into the Columbia River) begin by identifying several sites that might work. Identify the agencies/organizations that manage these sites, list the pros and cons of each site as an outdoor classroom, and then select a site. Contact the managing agency/organization and discuss what you want to do and obtain permission to use the site.
Write a description of the site and use it on your webpage. Develop a map of your site and for your project, submit participant registration form if you haven't already done it, participate in training and then share your experiences and data.
Resource Specialists and Environmental Educators
Resource managers, agency personnel, and environmental educators interested in participating in The River Mile, at least one person from your organization should participate in the introductory webinar, ArcGIS Online and field investigations training. There are many ways you can help; serve as a watershed coordinator for your area, provide additional training, work with the groups in your area on their river mile projects, write articles for the newsletters and do presentations for the monthly webinars for example.
Learn More and to JoinThe River Mile has "Watershed Facilitators" and "STEM Champions" who are points of contacts and trainers in local watersheds. You can contact them to get help connecting with other formal and informal educators as well as resource managers and scientists in your local area.