Sammamish Slough clean up provides environmental education for UW Bothell students

UW Bothell students received a real world lesson through a clean up of the Sammamish River Slough in Bothell. - Contributed photo/UW Bothell
UW Bothell students received a real world lesson through a clean up of the Sammamish River Slough in Bothell.
— image credit: Contributed photo/UW Bothell

The UW Bothell students in Rob Turner’s Estuaries In Trouble summer course probably had no idea their classroom would take the shape of a floating garbage patrol on Bothell’s Sammamish Slough. But this is exactly the type of learning that happens on and off the campus of a university that prides itself in promoting community-based learning and research. Turner says the best way to learn is by doing.

“I want the students to understand how pollutants from the land around the Puget Sound are causing its degradation,” said Turner.

So he found a hands-on learning opportunity through a community partnership with Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. Their mission is to protect and preserve the waters of Puget Sound by monitoring, cleaning up and preventing pollutants from entering its waters.

Class was in session at the Park at Bothell Landing on Aug. 9. A local kayaking company outfitted the students and taught basic river safety and Puget Soundkeeper Alliance explained the morning’s river mission as students were armed with nets and monitoring devices. Mycole Brown, a biology major said he expected to find plastic, oil, and knowledge.

“I hope to gain a better understanding of the health of rivers and of the various instruments we use,” said Brown.

The students eagerly took to the river in several canoes and kayaks. After spending a couple of hours patrolling for all types of pollutants, they turned their finds over to the city of Bothell’s Surface Water Management division.

Turner says he wants this experience to have a long lasting impact on the students and the environment.

“I hope the students will be jazzed at doing this type of citizen science that can have an impact on the quality of the water,” said Turner.

He added that he also hopes the students will volunteer again. And Puget Soundkeeper Alliance could use the help. The Sammamish River is sixth in their quest to clean up 12 Rivers in 12 Months.

Haley Duke, a senior majoring in environmental studies, heard the call. She says this first-hand experience won’t be her last and she issued an invitation.

“I hope to help today and I encourage everybody in the community to do this work,” said Duke.

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