BY ANNALISE LOZIER —
In past years, students received a physical education credit and an English credit for participation in the class, but starting this year, participants will also receive an environmental science credit as well.
Watershed wisdom is an offered class in which the students learn about the Milwaukee River Watershed. This class is different from most for many reasons. It takes place during the students’ lunch period on Tuesdays and involves a summer trip, where the students bike several hundred miles to the beginning of the Milwaukee River Watershed, then canoe back down.
Watershed wisdom is also unique in the bonding experience it offers to the students taking it. “I’m really excited to get really close with [my peers] and go on some awesome expeditions with them,” said Elizabeth Hayes, junior. The time spent biking, camping, and canoeing gives the students time to get to know each other, as well as observe the Milwaukee River Watershed.
Teachers and students alike believe that the environmental science credit that will now be provided to students who take the course is rightfully given. “The environmental component has always been there,” said Eric Gietzen, watershed wisdom teacher.
“I think it’s a great idea. I know me and a bunch of my friends have always wanted to take environmental classes, so though watershed has always been around, it’s really cool that they’re adding the credit because it shows that you’re involved in [environmental science]. [This is] especially [great] for applying to colleges.” Hayes said.
“I think it’s great that they’ve given us that extra opportunity for credit because we do deal with a lot of science and we’re trying to incorporate more science into the curriculum,” said Henry Fowler, sophomore.
“Everyone who read the curriculum approved of it,” Gietzen said. A pilot version of the curriculum, written by Eric Mathews, watershed wisdom teacher, was run with last year’s group of watershed wisdom students. The addition of the environmental science credit was approved by the school district, and this year’s students are the first group to receive it.
“Most of the students who take the class are already interested in [environmental science], especially because most of the class takes place outside,” Gietzen said. Watershed wisdom also has the students write essays on and keep journals about the flora and fauna that grows in the Milwaukee River Watershed, as well as learning about pollution, water quality and the effects that humans have upon the Watershed.
“I think [people will want to join watershed wisdom,] because that means you’ll get three credits for the class. That’s more than a year-long class, and that definitely makes it worth it on the educational level, as well as the fact that it’s a really fun class and you learn a lot,” said Fowler.
“I think this credit will get a lot more people involved in watershed because before my friends told me about it, I didn’t really know what it was, and this will probably make more people want to do it,” Hayes said.
“We are very excited about offering this new credit. We are glad that the district sees the benefit and value of watershed wisdom,” said Gietzen.