Riverdale Students Develop Wetland Habitat for Study

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | 6:00pm

Nashville, TN- Education Commissioner Lana Seivers and Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke announced today that Riverdale High School in Murfreesboro has been awarded a $5,000 grant to establish a wetland habitat on school property.  Project CENTS and the Tennessee Chapter of the American Water Resource Association are sponsoring this opportunity to develop a water habitat that will be used for instructional purposes by the school.“Outdoor classrooms provide an educational framework for students to create long term bonds between nature and scholarship,” said Commissioner Seivers. “The Project CENTS program has catalyzed efforts between the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Education to build educational opportunities for students in Tennessee.”

Agricultural and environmental science teachers at Riverdale High School designed a unique proposal to develop an existing pond into a wetland outdoor classroom. The first phase of the project will involve restoring the pond and removing sediment buildup. The surrounding area will also be graded to create a wetland around the pond. Aquaculture students will stock the pond with native fish; while forestry students will transplant wetland plants and build boardwalks over the area.

“Inland wetlands absorb and hold excess water from storms and provide habitat for a variety of wildlife.  Historically, many wetlands have been drained for farming and covered over with asphalt and buildings,” said Project CENTS Director Tamara Coleman.

The creation of the wetland will become a learning opportunity. Students will monitor water from the pond to create a water quality database. As plants and fish begin to thrive, students will be able to measure the improvements to the pond. Once the habitat is established, students will get hands on experience in scientific documentation.

“This project will allow the entire Riverdale High School Community to observe and document the ecological services a wetland habitat provides,” Coleman stated.  “This is conservation education in action, a major goal of Project CENTS.”

With funding assistance from the Department of Environment and Conservation, Project CENTS [Conservation Education Now for Tennessee Students] was reinstated at the Department of Education one year ago.  Charged with the task of enhancing environmental education in grades PreK-12, CENTS offers teacher training in several nationally recognized programs:  Project Learning Tree, Project WET, Project WILD and Flying WILD and helps schools connect to the Green Schools program offered by Environment and Conservation.

For more information about the Project CENTS program, please contact Tamara Coleman in the Department of Education, at 615-741-6055 or visit  http://www.tennessee.gov/education/projectcents .

Education