AWSM Program Details
Our Appalachian Watershed & Stream Monitors (AWSM) program uses a multi-tiered approach to watershed education.
Traditionally, this involves multiple points of contact. We begin with a parent and student meeting at your school where we present a slideshow to help prepare for the trip and answer any questions both groups may have.
Teachers then bring their class to the Spruce Knob Mountain Center for an Upstream Sampling and overnight residential wilderness experience. During this two day program, students participate in the assessment of a near-pristine stream in the Monongahela National Forest. Acting as citizen scientists, students collect and analyze data revolving around the biological, chemical, and physical attributes of the stream. This information is then shared with the WV Department of Environmental Protection and uploaded to the Save Our Streams volunteer assessment database. The program will end on the highest point in the state and Chesapeake Bay watershed, Spruce Knob, where students will put the experience into perspective through eagle eye views of the watershed below.
The second component of the AWSM program takes place in your community. We work with students to assess a Local Stream near their school and having already seen a near-pristine stream, the students will have a basis for comparison, while teachers will have two sets of data to incorporate back into the classroom.
Each summer we run a Professional Development Workshop for educators at our Spruce Knob Mountain Center. Learn techniques for implementing the AWSM program in your local school, work with professionals from the WV DEP, meet veteran teachers of the program, and earn continuing education credits.
While the ideal is for teachers to use all three of these components, they are welcome to participate in only one or two aspects of the program, depending on their own needs. Email us for more information about our AWSM program: firstname.lastname@example.org
What Folks are Saying
Experience Learning has for a long time been dedicated to understanding our students, and on each trip builds a program to meet our goals. The experience we have each year creates a channel for learning that helps students further understand and internalize skills for planning, organization, problem solving and risk taking, and shows how these skills lead to success and happiness. We also have a wonderful time, and the experience is a staple of school culture and our collective memories. – Greg Koehlert, headmaster, Winston Prep
We are currently in the process of exploring a Trout in The Classroom project because of the interest that was piqued during the AWSM activities. – Julie Colaw, 5th grade science teacher, Petersburg Elementary School
Our trip to SKMC has now turned into an annual event that is not only highly anticipated, but essential to bringing together the social dynamics of our class as we prepare for a year of working together. Additionally, my students feel empowered and connected to each other from our adventures that carries on through our schoolwork. – Jen Osha Buysse, teacher, Morgantown Learning Academy
Hands down Experience Learning’s Water Sampling trip (AWSM) for my 5th graders this past year has been the highlight of my career thus far! – Megan Bacorn, teacher
Mountain Stewards at Experience Learning is a fantastic week-long summer camp for kids who like the outdoors (or who WILL like the outdoors after this wonderful experience!) Stewardship of our natural resources, self-reliance, leadership, and fellowship, are all integral to this program. My daughter LOVES this camp, and that makes me a happy dad. Experience Learning also has great programs for learners of all ages. I recently completed an excellent Wilderness First Aid course at their wonderful Spruce Knob Mountain Center. Check it out! – Mark Wenzler
The leaders at Experience Learning do an extraordinary job of utilizing “outdoor education” to create opportunities for our boys to learn, grow, and develop an appreciation for our world beyond traditional classroom environments, which is valuable on too many levels to fully celebrate. – Mike Wallace, Gilman School
Experience Learning and their staff make our school trips possible. From scouting things out before hand, to keeping everyone fed, safe, entertained and informed during the trip, none of it would be possible without their professionalism. They create a safe environment that allows students to push themselves out of their comfort zones and take risks while being fully supported. All of this translates to huge growth at home both in and out of the classroom. – Evan Schlissel, Winston Prep NY