Students learn outside of classroom
For some high school students, nothing could be better than getting out of the classroom for a day to wade in a creek, learn about soil, explore the country side and handle some slithering creatures that would make a lot of people run in the other direction.
For over 10 years now, the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District has hosted “Cool Runnings,” which is a day-long event focusing on environmental science education and hands-on experience through classes in water chemistry, wildlife, fish and invertebrates, forestry and soils.
“We host this event for all the schools in the county with environmental science classes who want to participate,” said Robert Clement, who serves as the watershed coordinator for the Franklin County SWCD. “Many of these kids are taking these types of classes at their schools because they’re interested in having a career in environmental sciences, but these classes can be beneficial to most anyone who takes them.
“We educate the kids on the impact of clean water, how land management affects water quality and what we can do to maintain a healthy environment. These are things everyone could stand to know more about.”
Environmental science students from Belgreen, East Franklin, Red Bay, Russellville and Vina participated in this year’s “Cool Runnings” on Wednesday at Linda Welborn’s farm in Spruce Pine.
Danny Williams, the former district conservationist for Franklin County who has now retired, was present for the activities Wednesday because he said he knows how important the different classes are.
“Somebody has to take the lead in protecting the environment and the natural resources we have, so it’s important we make this information available to the public and to these students,” Williams said. “These things are important but they can also be fun. I had a career in this for 32 years and didn’t regret going to work a single day.”
Clement said he has seen students in the community who participated in “Cool Runnings” years ago who have told him they really enjoyed the experience and still remember many of the things they learned.
“The main thing is just to get that information to the students to educate them because you don’t realize how much wildlife we have here and how many resources we have,” Clement said. “If you don’t understand something, you won’t really worry about protecting it, so we just hope these kids will understand and take something away from this experience.”