Each year, Coosa Riverkeeper partners with universities around the state to provide service learning opportunities for students. Currently, we are partnered with a Talladega College Biology course, and 2 service-learning courses at UAB. This is a great way to combine their learning objectives of a particular course with community service. This opportunity allows the students to apply their skills to solving a social, environmental, or societal need.
Last year we approached Talladega College about partnering with their biology department for a service learning course, in which the administration met us with equal excitement at the opportunity. Talladega College, founded in 1867, is Alabama’s oldest private historically black liberal arts college. The college is located in the heart of Talladega, near Logan Martin Lake and Talladega Creek on the Coosa River.
This semester Dr. Andy Coleman’s Ecology course will help tackle 3 years worth of self-reported toxic release data into meaningful educational toolkits for folks like YOU! Keep an eye out on our website and social media for updates on the toolkit and how you can use it to better understand what’s going on in the water where you live, recreate, and eat.
Additionally, the class is undergoing water quality monitoring training as well and learning about careers in conservation. After a few Zoom calls with the class, some of our staff were finally able to get in the field with Dr. Coleman’s class. We met up with them outside of Silsby Hall on campus, and walked over to Town Creek which flows right through the town of Talladega.
At Town Creek, Jake (Swim Guide Coordinator) and Victoria (Fish Guide Coordinator) walked the students through the equipment we use when taking bacteria samples, turbidity samples, as well as algae samples. Brief examples were given of the techniques used to grab samples, and the QA/QC steps we take to insure the samples aren’t contaminated. It wasn’t long before the students were putting gloves on and grabbing samples themselves. We processed 3 of the samples the students took at our in-house lab, and the samples from Town Creek had an average of 52.9 cfu/100mL. A green alert during our Swim Guide program!
We wrapped up this first day in the field by planning a few more days with the students, and a zoom call to show them how we process the samples in our lab. One of the field days will take place in Talladega National Forest, and will include macro-invertebrate surveying led by Dr. Coleman. Needless to say, our team is very excited for our partnership with Talladega College!
Keep an eye out in the future for updates on this project, as well as blog posts and social media updates with the service learning courses we’re happy to be a part of with UAB!