Interns Bring After-School Water Program to Sara Holbrook Community Center

By Charlotte O'Brien and Caroline McKelvey
June 07, 2022

This year, Lake Champlain Sea Grant’s Watershed Alliance partnered with the Sara Holbrook Community Center, of Burlington, Vermont, to offer a version of the Teens Reaching Youth (TRY) 4-H20 program, a part of University of (UVM) Extension's 4-H Teens Reaching Youth program. The 4-H20 program involves students in examining the water cycle, watersheds, water quality and health, and aquatic life. 

The program traditionally connects high school teen teachers with third and fourth grade students during normal school hours across Vermont. In addition, this past spring, Molly Ryan and Charlotte O’Brien, Watershed Alliance’s UVM undergraduate interns, piloted a version of 4-H20 targeted for an after-school student population.

Ryan and O’Brien visited the Sara Holbrook Community Center every Friday for six weeks from 4 to 5pm. They taught six different water-related lessons consisting of a mix of hands-on, visual, and experiential learning activities. These activities engaged the elementary school-age students and conveyed complex scientific concepts to a younger audience. Some popular activities the students enjoyed included examining aquatic insects and other small animals called benthic macroinvertabrates, drawing their local watershed, and participating in a water cycle relay race!

“It was an amazing opportunity to apply what we had learned from our academic classes when educating this afterschool program,” said O’Brien, who, along with Ryan, graduated from UVM in May. “I hope the feedback from the teachers can benefit TRY 4-H20 programs in the future and continue to engage students with their intimate connection to water. Introducing these scientific concepts to students at an early age is something that I wish happened to me, so I am grateful for this opportunity.” 

The next step for Watershed Alliance will be to see if the 4-H20 curriculum can continue to be used in an afterschool program setting, in addition to its original format designed for high school teen teachers working in the third and fourth grade classrooms.

Learn more about Watershed Alliance’s K-12 programs and its undergraduate internships at the University of Vermont and SUNY Plattsburgh.