Southwest Community Center - July 16, 2022

Project Watershed was excited to be able to organize a hands-on outdoor educational event for over 100 kids (ranging in ages from 9 to 16 - along with a group of older learning challenged kids) from the city of Syracuse's Southwest Community Center. Participants in the July 16th and 17th event were fully engaged in hands-on learning activities - with day one at the Center and day two in Onondaga Lake Park - where they learned about watersheds and our roles in ensuring water health.

Making the day possible were a number of organizations who brought their talents to the day in the park. Mickey's Bait and Tackle Shop - a family business who does so much in for the community in support of events such as this - supplied, at no charge, the bait and tackle used for the event - and even came out to help out the Central New York Chapter of the Izaak Walton League who taught the kids how to cast and fish. A lot of fish were caught and fun had! The State University of New York - Environmental Science and Forestry and the NYS Parks, Recreation and Historical Development teamed up to talk about the history of Onondaga Lake, what is being done to clean it up, and - a real hit with the kids - checked out fauna trapped in nets set in the lake overnight.

The Onondaga Environmental Institute brought in a group of teens from the Onondaga Earth Corps who did a fantastic job of running games and events that taught the lessons of watersheds while, at the same time, getting the kids running around and having fun. Project Watershed staff and volunteers (teachers Valerie Brennan and Tim Shults, from Edward Smith Elementary School) were busy helping the kids collect macroinvertebrates in Sawmill Creek to access the health of that stream that flows through the park and into lake. The lake can only be as healthy as the streams that feed it, and Sawmill Creek is in good shape - this according to the biological and chemical tests run that day.

The success of the program has lead to a desire to make this an annual event. Judging from the testimonials from most of the inner-city kids who participated in the day - many of whom have never before been outside the confines of the city - this is a program to keep!

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