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Stream expert visits Carrollton City Schools campus

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Stream expert visits Carrollton City Schools campus
Stream expert visits Carrollton City Schools campus
julianne.foster

Dave Rosgen explains stream flow to a group of people on the Buffalo Creek tour.

Dr. Dave Rosgen, on Saturday’s tour of Buffalo Creek, explains the impact development of the area has had on the stream’s condition.

Rosgen brings expertise in review of Buffalo Creek Restoration Project

A nationally-renowned expert in stream restoration from Ft. Collins, Colo., took a field trip to the Carrollton City Schools campus this past weekend to study a partnership that will result in the restoration of a stretch of an important creek back to its intended state.

Dr. Dave Rosgen is a professional hydrologist and geomorphologist who co-founded Wildland Hydrology, a consulting firm that specializes in training for watershed assessment and management, river restoration, and monitoring. Rosgen was invited to see the progress students and teachers have made through their partnership with C.S. Britton, Inc., a local environmental engineering firm that initiated conversations about the restoration and preservation of Buffalo Creek, a stream that meanders through the school system's campus.

Karen Wild, director of School Improvement, said Scott Britton, the company's founder, approached the school district several years ago with the vision of providing financial resources and his firm’s expertise to restore Buffalo Creek while creating a route for students to understand the myriad jobs that are available in the under-promoted environmental engineering field. 

"Mr. Britton made a great point that some students who may not have thought of college as a post-secondary consideration may change their minds if they are engaged in the sciences at a young age," she said. "But even if they don't become engineers, they still have the exposure and experience to join an organization as a support team member, likely paid at a higher wage because they have developed a specialized skill."   

On Saturday, Carrollton City Schools teachers, dubbed the "STREAM Team," were among those who spent Saturday with Rosgen.  Following breakfast, the day started with an overview of the Buffalo Creek Restoration Project, followed by Carrollton City Schools faculty presentations and a panel discussion featuring Rosgen and three other experts in the field: Steve Jones, Meanders River Restoration; Brian King, Engineering 303; and Dave Penrose, Penrose Consulting and the University of North Carolina/Asheville. 

With a guest of Rosgen's caliber on campus, statewide and community leaders also were on hand to take the creek tour and learn from the stream expert. Representatives from Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's office, Georgia Power's corporate offices, Southwire Company and other area business leaders, University of West Georgia educators, and local political leaders leaned on Rosgen's expertise to learn how the unintended consequences of man trying to constrain the flow of the creek actually contributed to the rapid erosion of its banks. 

But the real lessons are taught day in and day out in all four schools. Anna Clifton, assistant superintendent of Teaching and Learning, noted the Carrollton City Schools campus is the perfect laboratory to implement this kind of hands-on learning approach. 

"Buffalo Creek runs through our entire campus, so this tangible learning experience is very convenient for all of our students," she said.  

Ann-Catherine Cox, a science teacher at Carrollton Elementary School who was named a Georgia STEM Scholar last spring by the Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center, has been involved in the STREAM initiative since the early stages. 

“The Buffalo Creek initiative has brought a tremendous amount of learning opportunities and resources to our school,” said Cox. “As a teacher, I have been able to participate in special training with Scott Britton and professors at the University of West Georgia. Being able to share our experiences and vision for Buffalo Creek with the school board and industry leaders this past weekend was an honor.”  

Carrollton Upper Elementary School fifth grade science and math teacher Katie Turner said she especially benefited from the experts who visited the campus last weekend.

“The insight Dave Rosgen and the other esteemed professionals provided as well as the sage advice they offered has equipped  us with many resources to help continue paving the way here at Carrollton City Schools,” she said. “We are so thankful that they took time out of their extremely busy schedules to help support what we are doing in and outside of the classroom.” 

Tim Hawig, a Carrollton High School science teacher, is seen out and about with his students conducting research on Buffalo Creek on a regular basis. While his colleagues at the lower schools see the benefit of the hands-on learning, Hawig also sees the future on the horizon.

“I am so honored to have had the opportunity to share the journey of incorporating steam restoration into high school curriculum with the leaders in the industry,” said Hawig. “Such great support at all levels, from my fellow colleagues, the administration of CHS and the district and school board members is so appreciated. A unique pathway can now be developed at Carrollton High School which will be the first in the country to offer student experiences related to the stewardship of water and stream restoration.” 

Britton’s vision for the Buffalo Creek Restoration Project has as much of a pragmatic focus on career development as it does on stream restoration. He said he knows not all kids are going to become rocket scientists, but they still can be strong contributors to a company's success and obtain quality careers.

"Some kids just want to be outside," he said. "They don't want to be stuck behind a computer or microscope in a lab. They want to see and touch and experience what they're working on. They want to do it, not just dream about it." 

"The beauty of the entire initiative is that not only teachers, but students of all ages have been excited to be a part of the STREAM project," said Dr. Mark Albertus, superintendent. "We have progressed from four teachers holding events to all teachers and students learning about STREAM through collaborative efforts that has led to the implementation of STREAM into our curriculum.” 

Albertus said the next steps are to finalize the restoration plan and submit it to the Carrollton Board of Education for review and approval.  

"Now that the foundation has been established and direction determined, we will be able to accomplish great things over the next several months," said Albertus. "Because of the work of individuals and businesses, we can continue to address the challenges of meshing this initiative into real-world endeavors. In the end, the outcome of this initiative will be nothing short of phenomenal." 

A group shot of attendees who participated in the Dave Rosgen creek visit.

 Participants in the Buffalo Creek Restoration Project tour with Dave Rosgen.