Vanessa Consolo

The purpose of the Urban Watershed Igniting Streams of Learning Science(UWISLS) internship is to learn and teach about local environments in hopes to make our communities more knowledgeable and also more sustainable. In order to make this happen, various projects and partnerships were made. The institute involved these main components:
  • Pre-Institute training
  • Educational institute for high school students and teachers
  • Post-Institute de-briefing and reflection meet up
  • Rebuild wetlands
  • Restore Gardens
  • Year-long curriculum with partnership high school
  • Mentoring during a semester in a college course in 2012
The first element of this internship was the pre-institute training this was set in place so that the educational institute for high students and teachers would run smoothly. I was hired as a stewardship liaison. This position is meant to describe a person that acted as a near-peer mentor, and also someone that communicates to high school teachers, and also acts as a helper towards community partners and UWISLS founders. The pre-institute training included the following:
  • gathering of supplies
  • collaboration with other stewardship liaisons on hands-on activities to display
  • community building activities with liaisons
  • talking with various experts and community partners such as
    • Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District
    • Cleveland Metroparks
    • EnviroScience
    • Professionals from Hiram College, Kent State University and Akron University
The second element of this position was going through the institute. The institute involved five high schools; Parma high, Rhodes high school, John Marshall high, Valley Forge high school and Brooklyn high school. Of those five schools, there were 7 learning communities made, consisting of a high school teacher, a liaison, and five high school students. The purpose of the institute was to engage and excite students about their environment and help give them the skills to bring back this knowledge to their communities. During the institute, many activities were exposed including: Activities:
  • Invasive Species
  • ORAM/soil (Ohio Rapid Assessment Method)
  • PHWH (Primary Headwater Habitat)
  • Remote Sensing
  • Stream Morphology
  • VLRAP (Vacant Land Rapid Assessment Protocol)
  • Community Building
  • Soil identification
  • Tree identification
  • Wildlife Introduction
  • QHEI (Qualitative Habitat Evaluation Index)
  • Stream Snapshot

o   Macroinvertebrates

o   Fish Electroshocking

o   Mapping

o   Water Chemistry

o   Habitat

Students were not just taught these topics, but were asked to do various hands-on work in order for them to retain information. Another goal was for the students and high school teachers to create a curriculum to bring back to their local schools that would help them to get a credit from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District off of new taxes.

My role in the institute was very important. I served as a peer mentor for the students was to use my passion of the environment to get them excited about the activities they were learning, be there for questions they had and to keep them on task.

The next phase of the internship included restoring wetlands and working on gardens. Rebuilding and restoring these items will provide the communities with an educational tool of what might be done in their environments. It was amazing to be apart of this phase because I got to work outside and with the environment.

The last parts of the internship deal with teaching others about the opportunities that we were given. During the school year, I will be there for assistance for my high school students and teacher that I worked with over the institute to create a curriculum for their school. At my own college, I  will aid my professor in teaching an ecology course to  better involve college students with the material being taught.

Skills I learned during this internship included:

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Technology
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Time Management
  • Public Speaking
  • Multi-tasking

During the institution, I realized that my passion for science and the environment is the career route I would love to go on. I am so excited to be a part of this field.

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