Austin Youth River Watch is primarily an after school program that functions to help young people stay in school until graduation from high school by focussing on holistic youth development and environmental stewardship. On a weekly basis River Watchers meet one day a week with their River Watch Coordinator and the other River Watchers from their school. They go out to a local creek or to the Colorado River and test the water. More experienced River Watch Mentors teach newer River Watchers how to do the water quality tests. Teaching others is very empowering for the River Watchers. Once a River Watcher feels competent to teach others, a light of confidence is turned on within them. That sense of efficacy, that can do attitude, is their inner treasure that helps them stay in school until graduation. We facilitate that. River Watchers also have opportunities to participate in campouts, community outreach activities like Earth Day and Green City Festival and other learning and outreach activities. When River Watchers feel like part of the group, they adopt the high expectations of the group for themselves and tend stay in school until graduation. The graduation rate of River Watch Seniors is nearly 100%.
River Watchers can participate for all of the years they are in high school and may begin participating in the summer between 8th and 9th grade. River Watchers have many opportunities beyond the regular weekly meet ups during the school year. The Summer Leadership Program is a great opportunity for River Watchers to meet students from other River Watch schools, to venture to other parts of town from their regular school year sites and to take their River Watch experience to a new level with hands on fish and benthic macroinvertebrate (water bug) catching and identification workshops, field trips caving and canoeing, and overnight activities staying in the dorms at Texas State University and doing hands on activities with Meadows Center for Water and the Environment.
In the 2014-2015 School Year River Watchers experienced the first full year of our new Service Learning Program, thanks to a grant from Impact Austin. All River Watch school groups take out one week of the year to work with our Program Director, Amelia DeVivo, on a service project that improves water quality and quantity through ecological and hydrological enhancement activities. Amelia guides the River Watchers learning experience and the students take the concepts and design and then implement a project. Career Exploration and exposure to professionals in Environmental and related career pathways is a focus of this program. The Service Learning Program gives River Watchers a valuable perspective about water quality and quantity and empowers them with new knowledge and experience that will uniquely prepare River Watchers to be good environmental stewards beyond their time in the program.
Interested in becoming a River Watcher?
Email Program Director, Amelia DeVivo at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the email, include your name, student’s school and grade level, and interest in becoming a River Watcher.