Environmental Education and Water Quality Monitoring as an AmeriCorps Volunteer, Knoxville, TN

In August 2002, I began service as an AmeriCorps volunteer in Knoxville, TN. My first mission was to teach local high school and middle school students about ecology, especially stream ecology. This experience whetted my appetite for formal classroom teaching, but also reminded me of the importance of hands-on experience and service-learning. Teaching at Stock Creek High School was especially enlightening (please see my Teaching Philosophy for details.)

Newspaper article about our work at Austin East High School, CAC Americorps, Knoxville, TN

My second mission was to monitor the water quality of a number of Knoxville’s streams. I spent weeks performing surveys, where I analyzed the physical properties of the stream, including stream velocity and depth. This also meant taking a number of water samples and quantifying their basic chemistry (e.g., N, P and dissolved O2 concentrations) and the degree of bacterial contamination (i.e., fecal coliform levels). The best part of a stream survey was the biotic inventory: I loved identifying the fish and tiny macroinvertebrate larvae of Knoxville’s waterways.