Between April and May, over 500 2nd and 3rd graders became Watershed Heroes across Humboldt, Lander, and Elko Counties! Although field trip season looked a little different again this year in light of COVID-19, Nevada Outdoor School adapted our annual field trip to the Humboldt River to a school-based “field trip”. On the school grounds, students were challenged to evaluate the role, function and importance of a healthy watershed to them personally and to their community. Students left with a call to action, creating a Watershed Hero pledge, describing actions they will take to care for and respect the local watershed we all share here in rural northern Nevada, the Humboldt River Basin.
A watershed is an area of land that drains water, sediment, and dissolved materials to a common water body, such as a river. The size of watersheds varies, the largest watershed in the United States is the Mississippi River Watershed draining over 1 million acres. A watershed contains both biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) components. Humans influence and impact the structural and functional characteristics of watersheds. These influences and impacts may be beneficial or disruptive to the watershed.
The Humboldt River Basin Watershed is wholly located in northern Nevada. The watershed spans from near Wells to the Humboldt Sink, not far from Lovelock. While the distance between these two communities is about 250 miles, the meandering nature of the river causes it to measure about 330 miles. The Humboldt River runs entirely within Nevada. The flow of the Humboldt River is highly variable because it is entirely dependent on precipitation. The source waters for the river derive from runoff from the Jarbidge, Independence, and Ruby Mountains in Elko County. The Humboldt River is contained entirely within the Great Basin, meaning that the Great Basin retains the water and there is no outflow to another body of water such, as an ocean.
As we know from living in a desert, water is a precious commodity! The quality (how good) and quantity (how much) of available water in the desert has health, recreational, and financial impacts on all who live here, human and non-human. Because water cannot be created, water education is critical so that citizens learn to protect, conserve, and better manage water resources in our local region. When we understand the interconnectedness of all living things, and our collective dependence of water, we become more united in the drive to keep water clean. Though age-appropriate activities and games throughout our Watershed Heroes field trip, we motivate and empower students to choose to become proactive and caring citizens, if they choose.
At Nevada Outdoor School, we love to get people outside, deepening their connection to and care for the natural world. We work to influence positive outdoor behaviors by providing people of all ages the motivation, knowledge, and skills to practice responsible outdoor recreation. We do this by teaching participants how to analyze a variety of possible actions, evaluate the potential impacts of those actions, and then to choose wisely to minimize the negative impacts of their actions when possible.
The 2nd and 3rd grade students who attended our Watershed Heroes field trip this spring deepened their connection to their local watershed and can now make choices that will respect and help protect that watershed. Even as kids, our actions matter! By picking up trash, not allowing oil and soap to drain into the river, and being aware of erosion along streams, you too can be a Watershed Hero! Go on Heroes, get outside and enjoy the Humboldt River Basin, just remember, your actions not only impact your local community, but everything down stream as well.