Prairie Grove Mid­dle School stu­dents work on Muddy Fork ero­sion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - LYNN KUTTER

PRAIRIE GROVE — Muddy Fork Branch of the Illi­nois River runs through part of the city and a group of sev­en­t­hand eighth-graders from Prairie Grove Mid­dle School hope to im­prove its wa­ter qual­ity and pro­tect the land along its banks.

“We are hop­ing to achieve pure drink­ing wa­ter and fix any ero­sion prob­lems so it will have the best wa­ter qual­ity,” said sev­enth-grader Luke Stuck.

The mid­dle school’s En­vi­ron­men­tal and Spa­tial Tech­nol­ogy class re­ceived a $10,000 Be­yond the Bell grant from the EAST Ini­tia­tive and Arkansas De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion for its project called “A River Runs Through it: Pre­serv­ing the Wa­ter Qual­ity and Pro­tect­ing the Land along the Muddy Fork River.”

The grant pro­gram is called Be­yond the Bell be­cause stu­dents and spon­sors aren’t al­lowed to work on the project dur­ing school hours.

Dur­ing the course of the project, stu­dents will be in­volved in lots of re­search and hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Tra­cie Ash­ley, class fa­cil­i­ta­tor.

They will take wa­ter sam­ples to iden­tify wa­ter and soil con­tam­i­nants, clean the river of de­bris, kayak the river to find ar­eas of ero­sion and de­ter­mine ac­tions to pre­vent and de­crease ero­sion along the bank of the river.

The stu­dents, called the Stream Team, will use the grant money to buy a drone to see an over­view of the river, a GoPro cam­era to use while kayak­ing and other is­sues along the river and a video­cam­era. The grant re­quires stu­dents to cre­ate a doc­u­men­tary video about the project.

A key part of the grant is work­ing with com­mu­nity part­ners. In this case, com­mu­nity part­ners in­clude Illi­nois River Wa­ter­shed Part­ner­ship, U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey, Prairie Grove, Arkansas De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity, Army Corps of En­gi­neers and Cen­ter for Ad­vanced Spa­tial Tech­nolo­gies with the Univer­sity of Arkansas.

Stu­dents al­ready have met with some part­ners.

They at­tended a train­ing ses­sion ear­lier this year with the Cen­ter for Ad­vanced Spa­tial Tech­nolo­gies to look at ero­sion rates along the Muddy Fork.

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