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Austin Youth River Watch Distance Learning Activities 

Here at AYRW, we believe in the healing effects of being outside and connecting with the natural world, which is why amidst this unprecedented time, we remain more committed than ever to providing virtual student engagement opportunities to educate, inspire, and foster a love of nature.

Join us this week as we begin our online programming. The activities below are fun and engaging ways to experience nature and learn something new!

When you go outside, remember always to stay safe. Follow these tips on physical distancing in parks, and these tips on physical distancing in public parks and trails.

Get Your Selfie Outside!

A fun and easy way to encourage students and our community to safely enjoy the great outdoors while physical distancing. Want to join our outdoor selfie challenge? It's easy! Simply spend 30 minutes outside and snap a quick selfie of how you're enjoying your time.

Scenic Snapshots!

Get your cameras and take some plant pics, forest films, and climate close-ups! Nature photography is a great way to experience the beauty and wonder of our ecosystems through a new lens. For this activity, students can bridge the gap between the plugged-in world of cell phones and the natural world of forests, wildlife, and landforms.

Earth Week Bingo

In honor of the 50th annual Earth Day on April 22nd, this week we are taking a week of action to protect our planet and express our gratitude toward nature. Review the Earth Week bingo board below and pick out which row activities you want to complete! Or complete them all! Our goal is to help you spend a week living sustainably and loving our planet.

Mind full or Mindful?

All around the world right now, people are struggling with stress and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Practicing mindfulness in nature can be a soothing tool for mental health that leaves you feeling calmed, refreshed, and connected to nature.

Water Watchers

Turns out, you can still be a dedicated River Watcher even without a testing kit! In addition to the chemical water quality tests we usually conduct, general observations about a creek are a great way to get an idea of the health of the creek!

Get Your Selfie Outside!

Being stuck indoors is rough. Our team here at AYRW wants to encourage y’all to continue to get outside and support your mental and emotional health amidst a trying time for all of us.


For this assignment, you’ll need to safely go outside for 30 minutes and take a picture of yourself to share with our River Watch community.


  1. Go outside and maintain appropriate social distancing of 6-10 feet from others
  2. Note what time you went out and set a 30 minute timer
  3. Take a selfie! We know y’all got that part down
  4. Enjoy being outside
  5. Post your selfie on social media with the hashtag #RiverWatchers or tag @RiverWatchers in your caption! Bonus points for anyone wearing River Watch shirts, bandanas, and stickers!
  6. Wash your hands when you go back inside

Submit your pic here or email to help our gallery grow!

Scenic Snapshots!

Grab your cameras and take some plant pics, forest films and climate close-ups!


  1. Go outside with a camera
  2. Explore and enjoy the nature around you and HAVE FUN
  3. Take photos of things you can see, hear, touch, or smell
  4. Submit your photos through social media with hashtag #Riverwatchers OR upload them below to enter our contest!

Earth Week Bingo!

In honor of the 50th annual Earth Week, it’s time to play bingo!


  1.  Complete activities in any diagonal, horizontal or vertical row to get a bingo!
  2. After completing your activities, share your experience with us! Submit your pictures below or message us on social media @RiverWatchers (instagram) and @AustinYouthRiverWatch (facebook)

Mind Full or Mindful?

This activity is meant for y’all to get outside and dig a little deeper into your thoughts, notice things you typically don’t, and be present in the moment.


  1. Pick a safe spot outside that is peaceful to you and bring a journal or your phone and note the date, time and weather outside.
  2. Put a timer on for 10 minutes and begin to SIT IN SILENCE AND JUST OBSERVE. You can– notice the noises you hear, the smells, the animals around. Look at the soil or ground and notice if you see new growth right now. Notice one thing you think is beautiful.
  3. Once the 10 minutes is up write down what you thought, felt and observed for 10-15 minutes in your journal or in a note on your phone.
  4. Take a picture of the spot you visited and post it on social media with the hashtag #RiverWatchers or message it to @RiverWatchers so we can add it to our gallery!

See how Blunn Creek changed over the course of 3 days

Here is an example of 3 days of mindfulness at the Blunn Creek Nature Preserve

Water Watchers!

Use the power of scientific observation to determine the health of your local creek

The submerged rocks are covered in brownish-green algae
The water starts to have small rapids here
The eastern side of the creek has more vegetation than the western side
Rock trail runs across the creek, causing lots of foot traffic and human activity in this section of the creek


  1. Pick the creek you want to visit – Austin has so many different creeks that are easily accessible to the public! Visit this website to find which creek is closest to you, then walk, bike or drive on over.
  2. Use your senses and observation skills to answer the questions below. Take your time, put thought into your responses and enjoy the outdoors!
    1. What activities are taking place around the creek? (Ex: Golf course, neighborhood park, hiking trail, roads) Often times, the human activities surrounding the creek are directly influencing the water quality and quantity.
    2. Describe what you see IN the creek. Can you see the bottom? Are there fish, rocks, or plants under the water? The contents of a creek tell a story of the water quality. Good water quality lends itself to a diverse wildlife population.
  3. Once you’re done with all of that, take a picture of yourself or the creek you visited and post it on social media with the hashtag #RiverWatchers or tag @RiverWatchers in your caption!