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Migrant Students Connect with Estuary Monitoring

Sep 29, 2021 | Old Woman Creek, Ohio, Reserves

Students hold up weather instruments to make a living weather station, with Old Woman Creek Stewardship Coordinator Sebastian Mejia.

At the Old Woman Creek Reserve, a new community of students is getting their boots wet gathering data through a new program that serves the children of migrant farmers.

The Reserve partnered with the Willard Ohio Migrant Education Program to engage 25 students in hands-on monitoring and stewardship. Children from migrant farming families often change schools throughout the year. They also face more barriers to education and have higher drop-out rates than their peers. Some may call Ohio home for only a short season.

“I was not part of a migrant family, but I am of Latino descent, and I wanted to provide these kids with the opportunity to see someone who looks like them and speaks their language in the environmental field,” said Sebastian Mejia, Stewardship Coordinator at the Reserve. “There are real opportunities for them in monitoring and stewardship, and the Reserve is well-resourced to share that.”

Through the program, the students and teachers received handheld weather meters and rain gauges to install a new Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network station (CoCoRaHS). The Reserve engages students in a two-part lesson on weather and watersheds. In the process, students build their technical monitoring skills, explore the Reserve’s habitats, and use donated monitoring technology like rain gauges, Kestrel meters, and the CoCoRaHas station. 

This program allows the students, who often lack continuity with their community because of their visas, to make a longer term connection with the school and community by helping maintain a weather station,” said Jennifer Bucheit, Education Coordinator at the Reserve who supported the program.

Students are not the only ones to benefit from the program. Teachers were provided equipment, training, and resources to integrate weather monitoring into their curricula, and the Reserve is able to use data gathered by students.

“The CoCoRaHS station is going to help us fill our data gaps in the southern reaches of the watershed,” said Mejia. “This expands our ability to record and track when flow events into the estuary may occur.”

The Reserve hopes to continue this program and provide targeted job shadowing opportunities for interested students in the future. Old Woman Creek staff also hope this program can support engagement with migrant farming communities at any Reserve that is close to agriculture or other industries utilizing migrant workers.

“The Reserve is able to engage diverse audiences because of our many partnerships and offerings,” said Mejia. “We benefit from our proximity to the agricultural lands around here—it gives us access to the farm workers and their communities who are inextricably connected to the land and weather.”

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ReservesOld Woman Creek, OhioMigrant Students Connect with Estuary Monitoring