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Leesburg High students to test quality of local waterways

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LEESBURG – To make sure her AP Environmental Science students are ready for the AP exam in May, Leesburg High School instructor Tessa Clark is thinking outside the box… and outside of the textbooks and classrooms, as well!
With the help of nearly $2,000 from the Lake County Water Authority (LCWA), she will purchase waste water treatment kits, biological factors kits, nitrate water test kits and digital soil test kits and in February will transport 50 students to Lake Louisa State Park, Leesburg Canal Street Waste Water Treatment Facility and Bourlay Historic Nature Park so the students can test the quality of water.
 
“The purpose of the soil kits is for students to understand that there are nitrates and phosphates in the soil that occur naturally but with local agriculture and golf courses, these nutrients can run off into our waterways and have a negative impact on aquatic systems,” she wrote in her application for the Water Resource Education Mini-Grant worth $1,976.48. “It is important for students to understand the interrelationships with terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and the anthropogenic impacts of these systems. Students need to be aware of these impacts and what BMPs (best management practices) are in place to promote sustainability.”
 
The AP course description shows that 25-30% of the exam will cover pollution and 10-15% will be on land and water use. Students take a pre- and post-assessment for each course unit and keep a lab notebook to record all field labs.
 
“These tools support their preparation for the AP exam in May,” Clark said. “But this is not just about the test. It’s about the experience. It puts the learning in a real-world situation. Even if the students go into jobs in this field, they’re going to be a registered voter someday. They need to know what’s going on in the environment. I’m not trying to make them into tree-huggers, but I want them to be knowledgeable about their surroundings.”
 
The mini-grant is part of the LCWA’s “Drop-by-Drop: You Make a Difference!” program, and is designed to promote freshwater resource education in schools by awarding grants that focus on issues that affect local water resources.  Since 2001, the LCWA Board has awarded more than $390,000 to local educators.