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Teeland Middle School Students Get Down and Dirty to Revitalize Little Susitna River Streambank

WASILLA, Alaska - The Teeland Middle School River Rangers have implemented a national grant to improve fish habitat along a stretch of the Little Susitna River.  


The 7th grade students in Rhett Buchanan and Mike Shea’s science classes initially travelled to several area streams to assess various measures of water quality.  These variables include dissolved oxygen, water temperature and flow, and the presence or absence of macroinvertebrates (stream bugs that are literally the “canaries in the coal mine” when assessing the health of a water body).  Later, on the banks of the Little Su, students collected trash, filled in ruts, installed matting to prevent erosion, and planted willow shoots and other stabilizing vegetation to anchor the soil.

A $3,200 GREENWORKS grant from Project Learning Tree of the American Forest Foundation, help from the Wasilla Soil and Water Conservation district and the Alaska State Division of Forestry, and Buchanan and Shea’s determination to bring nature into the classroom made this all possible.


Mr. Buchanan states that “not only did students’ attitudes about their local environment change, but the hands-on approach led to significant gains in interest and performance across virtually every subject area.” He encourages all teachers wanting to emulate similar projects to apply for a GREENWORKS grant, available through Project Learning Tree workshops. Scouts, homeschooling parents, and many other groups are all eligible to participate.

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