Sequoyah High School and Council for Watershed Health
Thomas McHenry, former Vice President of the Council for Watershed Health, first introduced the Council and Sequoyah High School at the Council’s 20th Anniversary Celebration in September 2016. CWH and Sequoyah HS discovered the opportunity for CWH to support Sequoyah’s Social Innovation Program--a hands-on, field-based program designed to help students develop empathy and to be effective collaborators and change makers--with Sequoyah’s Director of Social Innovation & Field Studies, Alia Kate.
The focus of this past year’s Social Innovation Program was the revitalization of the Los Angeles (LA) River. In December 2016, Sequoyah High School students took a field trip to Marsh Park, a park designed to capture and infiltrate stormwater located right next to the LA River in the Elysian Valley, to learn about the CWH’s role in early construction and post-construction monitoring of water quality and volume. Since Marsh Park is located directly adjacent to the LA River, any stormwater captured and infiltrated on-site is stormwater prevented from entering and polluting the LA River. Staff Scientist, Ariane Jong, explained how CWHl used performance monitoring to assess how effective the bioswales at Marsh Park were at reducing flooding and removing pollutants from stormwater as it percolates into the soil. The Sequoyah High School students used this information in their initial efforts to decide how best to participate in the revitalization of the LA River through the high school’s Social Innovation Program. In the Spring of 2017 Sequoyah students again displayed their voracious appetite for information on the LA River through a video call with Staff Scientist Ariane Jong. Their questions ranged from the specifics of water quality testing to questions about careers in environmental science such as, ‘what does a typical day on the job look like for you’? Laura Haney, who teaches physics and chemistry at Sequoyah HS, commented that after the call she had “several students who may be interested in following in [Ariane’s] footsteps.” Continuing to build on the thriving relationship between Sequoyah and the Council, a group of Sequoyah High School students who had tested the water quality of industrial sites along the LA River invited Ariane Jong and Senior Scientist Yareli Sanchez to participate in a documentary showcasing the students’ efforts as well as the efforts of organizations who are involved in assessing and improving the health of the river.