Watershed fosters a respect for the environment

Several students participated in Watershed Wisdom this summer, exploring the Milwaukee River watershed for 11 days. Watershed Wisdom is a hands-on, environmental education class offered by the high school with the help of SEED funding. Throughout the program, students navigate the Milwaukee River watershed by biking, hiking and canoeing. Students discuss a range of issues through readings and observations, and record their reactions by journaling. Upon finishing the class, students receive one English credit, one health credit and one environmental science credit.

The SEED foundation has helped fund this program since 2010, when budget cuts would have cut the program.

“It is one of the most innovative, creative courses we offer at Shorewood High School,” said Kathy Rehbein, SEED member.

At first, SEED was concerned about the potential elimination of the program. One anonymous donor had decided to donate $10,000 to SEED to Watershed Wisdom, and that’s when SEED came up with the idea of directed donations, which states that donors can donate to specific organizations if desired. Since then, SEED has been housing donors’ money for the program, and whenever Watershed runs into a deficit, SEED is there to help Watershed financially.

“Now they have funds that are directed just for them,” said Stephanie Snyder, SEED Board member.

Shorewood parents also find several benefits within the program. The program is well balanced, with the classroom material being more exciting than most students had anticipated.

“I know [my daughter] really enjoyed it and she is actually now considering doing something in environmental sciences as far as her college major. The outdoor physical trip itself she loved, but I think some of the schoolwork she had to do she liked as well and found interesting,” said Jeff Stowe, parent.

Parents also agree that students make connections with students of different age levels, and also come home with more outdoor skills than before.

Students state that Watershed Wisdom is a nice environment that fosters developing different friendships and bonds.

“The group of people was incredible. I think the people that are attracted to taking this kind of course really make the trip. Everyone was super nice and non-judgmental. Everyone got along really well, and we had no issues whatsoever,” said Morgan Florsheim, junior.

“I had heard from everyone who had done [Watershed] that it was something you did not want to miss, and it was definitely something you wanted to be part of your high school experience. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who is even remotely interested, and even if you are not interested in environmental science or you think you are not ready for the physical challenge, it is definitely worth it, no matter what,” said Florsheim.

by Maya Lawnicki

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