Sample Entries: Sample 2

Judging

National Championship Week PhotoSample 2

S.O.S. – Save Our Stream

Coach: Irene McMullen
Community: Lyndhurst, Ohio
Status Achieved: Gold Medal Award-Winner

Section 1: The Issue

In a small stream near the team members' school, ecological experts identified a 12,000-year-old population of brook trout, a remnant of an era when glaciers moved through the region that is now Ohio. Local residents are largely unaware that the trout are endangered as a result of toxic runoff and human activity.

Section 2: Research

The team met with local hatcheries, the Chagrin River Land Conservancy, the Geauga Soil and Water District, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and other experts to determine the main threats to the health of area waterways. The students discovered that the primary culprits were lawn fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals that area residents inappropriately disposed of in storm sewers that drain unfiltered into area creeks. A survey of local residents revealed that a majority were unaware that the storm sewers drained into creeks, and most were not aware of the fragile brook trout's existence.

Section 3: Testing

To identify the attributes most important to the brook trout's survival, the team tested water quality at two locations where the species is known to thrive. After reviewing the data, the team concluded that environmental factors play the biggest role in determining the trout's survival. The students decided that the best approach to the problem was to educate residents about the existence of the trout and the effects of non-point source pollution on the trout. In addition, they educated residents about developing riparian buffer zones in their yards to contain the impact of fertilizers and other yard chemicals. To reinforce their awareness campaign, the team applied warning stickers to drains alerting residents not to use the sewers as a dumping source.

Section 4: The Solution

Residents were unaware of the need to adopt more environmentally friendly practices and of their power to help preserve a local native species. By educating people about specific steps they could take to protect the brook trout, the team influenced members of their community to make a personal commitment to reducing pollution.

Visual Presentation:

Photographic series.

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