Published: March 28, 2011
Albuquerque, NM— The Mid Rio Grande Stormwater Quality Team (MGRSQT) a multi-agency group dedicated to educating children, adults and businesses on how they can reduce stormwater pollution to better “Keep the Rio Grand!”, this year is sponsoring 10 local elementary classrooms to participate in the RiverXchange. RiverXchange is an innovative, year-long project developed in New Mexico which educates fifth graders on river water issues and links them with other fifth-graders from throughout the world through interactive class wikis (social networks).
Vernon Hershberger, MRGSQT chair and environmental health manager at the University of New Mexico, said the group views the program as “A unique, effective way to educate students on stormwater issues and watershed effects on the Rio Grande. The MRGSQT wants students the public to be educated on what we all can do to help ‘Keep the Rio Grand!’ our motto.” He continued, “The interactive format allows students to discover shared water quality issues as well as how the Middle Rio Grande’s semi-arid watershed varies from those in other parts of the United States, Canada and even Europe.”
River Xchange partners Albuquerque classes with classes in nine states, including Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington, Kentucky, Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina; two Canadian provinces, including Calgary and Manitoba; and a U.S. military base school in Aviano, Italy. The project uses the local river, the Rio Grande, as a tool to teach about major water resource issues. New this year is a hands-on, math-based activity called “Don’t Trash Our Rio” which includes information about our area’s stormwater drainage network, which contains approximately 722 miles of storm pipes, 33 miles of lined channels, 18 miles of unlined arroyos, 12,300 storm manholes, and 16,100 storm inlets.
Teachers are trained on how to implement the curriculum and how to manage information on their private class wiki. All classes follow the curriculum at approximately the same time during the school year, while students communicate with their pen pals in other classes across the country or across the globe.
With a total of 45 New Mexico classes and 45 partner classes involved, RiverXchange reached more than 2,000 fifth graders this year, with all components of the project provided free of charge to New Mexico teachers. Participating schools included:
- Annunciation Catholic School
- Cochiti Elementary
- Collet Park Elementary
- Hawthorne Elementary
- Holy Ghost Catholic School
- John Baker Elementary
- Lew Wallace Elementary
- Navajo Elementary
- North Star Elementary
- Sandia Base Elementary
- Sunset View Elementary
“The RiverXchange program provides unparalleled opportunities to educate school-aged children, who carry the environmental stewardship message home to their families,” said guest speaker Steve Glass of Bernalillo County Public Works. “In addition, this program helps create a lifelong awareness of the importance of protecting our environment, our watershed and the Rio Grande.”
RiverXchange also connects teachers with guest speakers and organizes/funds field trips to watershed and water resources locations. Field trips are scheduled from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and involve sponsors as well as participating classes. The next field trip is scheduled Friday, April 15 at Sanchez Farms in Bernalillo County. Sanchez Farms is a 14-acre tract of land that serves as a drainage retention basin for stormwater run-off from Isleta Boulevard. Anunciation Catholic School will be the participating class.
Additional field trips are scheduled:
April 28 – Puesta del Sol Elementary School at Willow Creek (Rio Rancho)
April 29 – John Baker Elementary School at Sanchez Farms (Albuquerque)
April 29 – Sandia Vista Elementary School at Willow Creek (Rio Rancho)
May 5 – Collet Park Elementary School at Tingley Beach (Albuquerque)
May 6 – North Star Elementary School at Sanchez Farms (Albuquerque)
May 12 – Cochiti Elementary School at Tingley Beach (Albuquerque)
May 13 – Lew Wallace Elementary School at Sanchez Farms (Albuquerque)
TBD: Additional field trips for Hawthorne Elementary School and Holy Ghost Catholic School,
RiverXchange is a project of Experiential EE, LLC, www.experientialee.com. For more information about RiverXchange, visit www.riverxchange.com. To become a guest speaker or involve a school, contact Amy White, Project Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-235-8342.
Other RiverXchange sponsors include the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Southern Sandoval County Arroyo and Flood Control Authority and Santa Fe County. More than a dozen organizations also provide in-kind contributions such as classroom guest speakers and volunteer field trip documents.
The Mid Rio Grande Stormwater Quality Team was formed in 2004 to cooperatively educate and reach out to residents about how they can reduce stormwater pollution to help “Keep the Rio Grand!” The team includes the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority, Bernalillo County, the City of Albuquerque, the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation District, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority, the University of New Mexico and the New Mexico Department of Transportation. More information is available at www.keeptheriogrand.com.