Watershed Education with Julia!


For the past 3 weeks, Oakland High school was visited by Julia Dorosh, Program Associate for Earth Team and Campus Coordinator for Pinole, Antioch and Alameda High Earth Teams. Julia is an expert in watersheds, and provided Oakland High interns with 3 weeks worth of interactive, hands-on activities to educate interns about watersheds, species (native vs invasive), as well as human impacts and how litter relates to the new curriculum. 

Here is a bit of what interns had to say about their time with Julia!

*Student Blog*

Meeting One: What is a Watershed? 

Objective- Interns will be able to define and describe what a watershed is, examine maps to trace the path that water travels from their local waterway to SF Bay, and determine what kind of pollutions water picks up as it travels over different land surfaces.

January 25 was a day of many firsts. The first time the Oakland High (Earth Team) interns met Julia as part of a coordinator exchange program between schools. The first time many of us had even heard the word “watershed”. The first time I had the opportunity to drown a drawing of me with water from a spray bottle.

A watershed, as we learned that day, is an area of land where all of the water that flows into it drains off to a common outlet. That common outlet, more often than not, is the ocean. One would think it useful to know the basics of watershed-ology, at least if you live in sunny California, considering that watersheds make up 40% of our state. I mean, personally, I think not knowing 40% of your home could get downright inconvenient.

A watershed is important to the environment and our survival and we must become more educated about our watershed in order to preserve it. For example, we learned that the most common pollutant that makes it into the watershed, and therefore our water supply, is urban runoff. Runoff is rainwater that flows over the streets collecting all sorts of chemicals and litter as it makes its way to the nearest body of water before eventually ending up in the ocean.

Our favorite part of the day, by majority vote, was when we were instructed to draw on sheets of paper as part of a watershed simulation activity. Strangely enough, both I and another intern by the name of Cai chose to draw me (Bryant). Odd that we both wanted to drown illustrations of me.

Learning about watersheds after spending weeks on waste sorting and waste audits was a learning experience. Though I wouldn’t exactly call it challenging, the part of the meeting which required the most work was reading and answering questions about a dense packet full of information about, among other things, estuaries, wetlands and endangered animals.

Overall Meeting Rating: 11 Cliff bars

Written By: Bryant, Cai, and Marie

Meeting Two: Species & Natives

Objective: Interns will be able to draw and construct their own local watershed, understand the definitions and differences between non-native, invasive, and native species, and be able to identify the types of habitats these species reside.

In this meeting we got to know the difference between a non native, native, and invasive species. It’s very important to know this so we could identify the difference between different species, which is harmful and which helps. One individual creature might not be a huge difference, but a lot of them together can have a major negative impact on our environment. When Julia was here, we earned what species are native, invasive, and non native, how to make sure our watershed is clean,  and how we can protect the environment. Our favorite part was drawing animals, searching animal types and drawing maps.

Working with Julia was cool and insightful. It was great to learn about something else and how it tie into what we were learning before. What was challenging was drawing the map and figuring out where things are.

I’m surprised about how water is able to impact the environment in such a way that animals are becoming extinct. This made me want to do something to improve the state we are in now so all these lives on earth could stay.

Written By: Julian, Sophie, Chuyi  

Meeting Three: Human Impacts

Objective: Interns will understand human impacts on watersheds and test the physical and chemical parameters of water samples from local waterways.

During the final meeting we collected samples of water from Lake Merritt, run of water drain and tap water. We used expensive and professional equipments to run test on the water such as PH levels, oxygen, temperature, conductivity, salinity and more. We found  the water to be surprisingly clean and potable, and it was important for us to tell us what to drink.

This taught us that a lot of the water wasted in storm drains can be reused instead of being wasted. And tap water actually has high PH level, which was surprisingly and not what we expect it to be, but we can still be able to drink it. Our favorite part was when we tested the water. It felt very educational, fun and cool. We felt like nothing was challenging because Julia was very helpful and explained to us every detail. 

Written By: Britany, Huong, Peter, Itzel

Thank you Julia for educating our Oakland High students about the importance of Watersheds! Check back as we begin to prep for our upcoming Litter March.



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