Brian Zilla

The purpose of the Urban Watershed Igniting Streams of Learning in Science (UWISLS) internship is to learn aspects about local environments; followed by educating surrounding communities on ways they can sustain their environment. UWISLS is designed to provide students the opportunity to expand their knowledge and experience in different biological and ecological disciplines. Students then are encouraged to engage their communities through various service activities and educational programs. This will be accomplished with the help of students and teachers, as well as many professional partners. Our goals are to 1) to educate students about the importance of utilizing ecologically sound methods in order to protect the overall environment, specifically watersheds, 2) to incorporate new educational programs that pertain to specific Ohio Science Standards, and also mandates given by the Environmental Protection Agency, 3) to reduce sewer runoff from urban impervious services to the environment, 4) to restore wetlands at the James H. Barrow Field Station in Hiram, Ohio, 5) promote wetland educational programs throughout Northeast Ohio. Components of the Program There are four basic components to the UWISLS internship program. The first is the ISLS institute, followed by an educational program at John Marshall High School. The third component includes construction and restoration of various wetlands at the James H. Barrow Field Station in Hiram, while the last component is a service project developed by Hiram College. ISLS Institute Component The ISLS institute includes a brief training period, an eight-day institute, and post-institute activities. The training period lasted for three weeks in which various community-building activities occurred, along with protocol preparations for the institute. The ISLS institute involves working directly with students, teachers, and professionals in educating them the importance of sustaining the environment. After the institute, several days are dedicated to wrapping up the various activities and the collection of data. The activities that occur at the ISLS institute include:
  1. Stream Morphology
  2. Invasive Species
  3. Laser Leveling
  4. Remote Sensing
  5. Stream Snapshot
      1. Macroinvertibrates
      2. Fish Electroshocking
      3. Mapping
      4. Water Chemistry
      5. Habitat
  6. Nature Walk
  7. ORAM (Ohio Rapid Assessment Method)
  8. PHWH (Primary Headwater Habitat)
  9. VLRAP (Vacant Lot Rapid Assessment Protocol)
  10. BHEI (Bank Erosion Hazard Index)
  11. QHEI (Quality Habitat Evaluation Index)
  12. Telemetry
Educational Program An educational program was designed with various students and a teacher from John Marshall High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Work will include designing an educational program that incorporates the Ohio Science Standards and various mandates by the EPA. The various tools presented to the students at the institute will be incorporated in the new curriculum that must involve 25% of the student body at John Marshall High School. If 25% of the student population is involved, then John Marshall will lower the credit needed to pay. Wetlands This component includes the construction and reconstruction of various wetlands at the James H. Barrow Field Station in Hiram, Ohio. It involves identifying, classifying, and delineating wetlands, followed by possible educational programs about the different types of wetlands at the field station. Hiram College Service Project This work will be completed during the school year. It involves working with Dennis J. Taylor, a professor at Hiram College. Work will include acting as a student advisor for the students in a Field Ecology class for 12 weeks in either the fall or spring. Time must be made for at least 4 hours a week for 12 weeks for this class. Personal Projects The internship involved the restoration of two gardens at Hiram College. -Hiram College Historical Society Garden -Hiram College Bonney Castle Garden Field Trips The UWISLS program has planned various activities during the fall semester. -Overnight Visit at Cleveland Metroparks -Canoeing Trip at Hiram College Skills Developed Ability to identify/ classify Wetlands: After work at the James H. Barrow Field Station, one will be able to classify wetlands, and identify various species in the wetland. Communication Skills: The UWISLS program develops strong communication skills and collaboration skills because you will rarely be working alone. Most of the work completed is in a group setting. Technological Skills: UWISLS includes technology as one of its core values, therefore, technology is frequently used. Liaisons are given Samsung Galaxy Tablets to help engage in learning. Computers are also frequently used. Field Work: All work is completed outside. Various field work activities are performed. Leadership Skills: UWISLS incorporates leadership skills in leading students and teachers in various institute activities. Personal Accountability: One must be personally accountable in being on time, and make sure tasks at hand are completed. Public Speaking: Various activities required public speaking. Data Collection: Fieldwork activities require extensive and accurate data collection. Identification of Invasive Species: Able to identify major invasive species in Northeast Ohio. Also able to distinguish the difference between Native, Non-native, Invasive, and Non-Invasive Species. Time Management: Time management is key. Many tasks are given and need to be completed in a timely manner. Logistics of the UWISLS Internship Program Number of positions: 10 Time Frame: 10 week summer commitment, followed by 5 hours a week in the fall/spring Hours of Work: 40 hours a week in summer, 5 hours a week fall Contact Information: Professor Dennis Taylor via email at

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