IV. Action

After six months of preparation, we spent a glorious five days at OPI fully immersed in the study of the Elwha ecosystem. As their service-learning activity during the week, students were divided into two learning groups and each group took baseline measurements of conditions on the Elwha River at three different points. In addition to the techniques they learned back on their initial visit in the fall (temperature readings on the river at various flow levels; transect of the beach in order to catalogue size of rocks (related to specie-specific preference for spawning); and water quality assessment by macroinvertebrate inventory), they also learned how to measure the river’s pH and turbidity. These measurements were then entered into OPI’s database for the specific week of our visit. Many other high school groups completed similar measurements on different dates. We worked together, played together, ate together, and teachers slept as chaperones in the student cabins. Every day we were out in the field, hiking, cataloging, synthesizing, predicting, journaling, learning. Every night we had a special program from an expert in the field: habitat restoration, tribal culture, specialized data collection methods. And, of course, a campfire. This was curriculum-based service learning at its best.

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