Imperial’s support of RiverWatch helps take the scientific study of aquatic ecosystems out of the classroom and onto the water

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Imperial’s support of RiverWatch helps take the scientific study of aquatic ecosystems out of the classroom and onto the water

Water management - minimizing the impacts of our water withdrawals, consumption and discharges in our operations - is a key environmental focus for Imperial. But we also recognize the importance of healthy water systems everywhere – not only those impacted by energy development. It’s why we’re happy to support a unique program at the RiverWatch Institute of Alberta.

In 1994, a group of three Calgary teachers changed the way students were able to learn about aquatic ecosystems. Their vision was for a real-world river study – on the water, not in front of a text book – that was not only science-based but adventurous and fun, too.

The founding teachers and first Board of Directors – Cal Kullman, John Dupuis and Guy Pollard – imagined students traveling their local river aboard large inflatable rafts equipped with water quality testing equipment, and later in the classroom, analyzing data to construct a picture of river health.

Together these teachers formed what has become the RiverWatch Institute of Alberta. They piloted their first program with three Science 9 classes in 1995. Over the next two decades their dream has grown into an award-winning environmental monitoring experience that combines physical challenge and adventure with hands-on, real-world science. Since it’s humble beginnings in 1995, more than 120,000 students have participated in the program.

The founding teachers and first Board of Directors – Cal Kullman, John Dupuis and Guy Pollard – imagined students traveling their local river aboard large inflatable rafts equipped with water quality testing equipment, and later in the classroom, analyzing data to construct a picture of river health.

Together these teachers formed what has become the RiverWatch Institute of Alberta. They piloted their first program with three Science 9 classes in 1995. Over the next two decades their dream has grown into an award-winning environmental monitoring experience that combines physical challenge and adventure with hands-on, real-world science. Since its humble beginnings in 1995, more than 137,000 students have participated in the program.

Students begin their five-hour day with RiverWatch by asking the question, how healthy is our river? They then follow a scientific process to form their hypothesis, gather and test water samples and analyze the data. It’s a great hands on experience for students studying topics that include freshwater ecology, environmental chemistry and climate impact.

RiverWatch has also branched out to offer programming for adult volunteers. The adult CreekWatch program allows corporate and community volunteers to work as a team and answer the question, how healthy are our stormwater creeks? The program is now active at 18 sites across Alberta. To learn more or get involved, visit riverwatch.ab.ca.

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