Teens in Action! from the TIA Alliance

Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League of America, and American Fisheries Society (collectively the ‘TIA Alliance’) have partnered to deliver a mission-based program for high schools focused on stream science and fisheries management. The program is called “Teens in Action!” 

This program offers students hands-on experience working on projects with biologists, college students and faculty, community leaders and other individuals interested in conservation and science. A successful model program launched in VA last year is the genesis for the Teens in Action! program (see below). 

What We Offer: We offer both stream water quality and benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring training to teachers or student leaders; access to fisheries and water science professionals as guest speakers; and guidance for a service-learning project or as an ongoing club.  

This program recommends using Izaak Walton League’s (IWL) Save Our Streams protocols for water quality monitoring. Student-collected water quality data is published on IWL’s Clean Water Hub which is then published on EPA’s Federal Water Quality Exchange. 

High School classrooms, clubs or afterschool programs follow the 3 A’s to address an environmental problem in their community. The 3 A’s are: 

  • Awareness – identify the problem 
  • Action – find a solution (pre-assessment & field work) 
  • Analysis – evaluate impact of solution and share findings 

The program is currently under development. We are gathering survey results from high schools in Maryland and northern Virginia during the summer of 2019.  

Why: We want to provide teachers and other youth group leaders an easy way to connect youth to their water resources while providing an authentic way to address an environmental problem in their community. Participation in this mission oriented program prepares students for fields in STEM-careers around natural resources and fisheries. We think this program would be an excellent supplement to your existing high school clubs or science class, or as a new seasonal program. 

Most surface waters in our nation are not monitored on a regular basis. Without an established baseline or known condition followed by periodic monitoring, it is difficult to document changes in surface water conditions through time. Your students can help while gaining valuable experience in a collaborative environment. 
 
Program History: In 2013, six female students from James Madison High School in Vienna, VA founded an environmental research club dubbed ‘Students for Environmental Action’ with their science teacher, Dr. Kirk Smith, as their advisor. The group formed in hopes of gaining hands-on science experience outside of the classroom and out of the need to locate suitable streams for the release of Trout in the Classroom (TIC) fish. They ventured out to rural northwestern Virginia and performed stream assessments. The club has grown into a team of 20+ high school students in 2019 and was rebranded as Trout Out of the Classroom (TOC). The group conducts watershed assessments in rural Virginia, collects and analyzes the data, and sends it to governing natural resource agencies, such as the US Forest Service and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Their primary purpose is to determine the suitability of streams for brook trout sustainability, as brook trout are intolerant to pollution and an indicator of healthy ecosystems.  

Documentaries produced by students at JMHS: 

The TIA Alliance: In November 2018, Trout Unlimited, Izaak Walton League, and American Fisheries Society signed a Charter to bring this program to schools across the country. It was to be a natural extension for classrooms already doing Trout in the Classroom (TIC), TU’s largest youth program. The alliance will strive “to promote awareness of and appreciation for water quality monitoring and fisheries management within the United States by facilitating the engagement of volunteers, specifically youth and young adults, in mission oriented, natural resource conservation activities.” Read the entire TIA Alliance Charter here.

About the American Fisheries Society:

The American Fisheries Society (AFS) is a membership organization of students, scientists, managers and other professionals advancing fisheries science and conserving fisheries and aquatic resources. Our members include undergraduate and graduate students, university faculty, state and federal agency professionals and others who support and supply services/technologies to the profession. AFS offers education, publications and scientific programs in local, regional and international conferences, which attract scientists from around the world. We also offer a paid, summer mentoring program for high school students introducing them to the fisheries profession through hands-on work with fisheries professionals.

About Izaak Walton League:

For nearly 100 years, the Izaak Walton League has fought for clean air and water, healthy fish and wildlife habitat, and conserving special places for future generations. The League’s Save Our Streams program empowers volunteers nationwide to monitor their local water quality and make a difference in their communities. Today, the League plays a unique role in supporting citizens locally and shaping conservation policy nationally. 

About Trout Unlimited:

Founded in Michigan in 1959, Trout Unlimited today is the national’s leading coldwater conservation non-profit with 300,000 members and supporters dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. By the next generation, Trout Unlimited will ensure that robust populations of native and wild fish once again thrive within their range, so that our children can enjoy healthy fisheries in their home waters. Trout Unlimited’s Headwaters Youth Program is building the next generation of river stewards and conservation-minded anglers to carry on our mission. Our programs create a place for young people to explore and understand the natural world.  

More information: If you are interested in getting involved as an educator, student, mentor, or volunteer contact Tara Granke tgranke@tu.org for more information.