(406) 541-9287

802 E. Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802

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School Stream Monitoring Options

School Stream Monitoring Program
K-12th grade

One to two classroom activities and a half-day field trip.

Every fall and spring, WEN provides student field days at local creeks and rivers to gather physical, biological and chemical data. Measurements are based on Montana Volunteer Water Monitoring Project protocols including biological, physical, and chemical, as well as other stream-health indicators such as turbidity, nutrients and aquatic life. Participating students learn the importance of watershed science, monitoring, and long-term stewardship.

Fish Week

7th grade

Native Fish, Fish Habitat and Fly Fishing Program.

WEN continues our long-term partnership with WestSlope Chapter Trout Unlimited to provide a Native Fish Habitat station to enhance middle school field trips. Our Fish Week program targets 7th grade classes learning about the important connection between healthy rivers and fish. Lessons include fish habitat, aquatic macro-invertebrates, bugs and dry flies comparison, and interactive introduction to fly fishing.

Groundwater/Aquifer Education 
K-8th grade

Groundwater/Aquifer education focuses on the connection between ground, surface and drinking water using groundwater flow models provided by the Missoula Water Quality District and Missoula Water. WEN offers introductory groundwater/aquifer topics for students to explore. WEN’s lessons feature Missoula’s aquifer and how ground, surface, and drinking water connect in Missoula.

Milltown Dam Journeys 
K-12th grade; two to three classroom presentations and field trip to Milltown Bluff

WEN launched the Milltown Dam Journeys program in the fall of 2005, in response to questions and concerns from teachers and students about the former Milltown Dam and the status of Clark Fork River. This program has evolved as the removal of the dam began and now is offered as an interactive history lesson about the dam, its removal and its future as a state park. This program also includes a trip to the dam overlook and the historical reservoir site to see all the restoration efforts that have taken place, first hand.

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
High School

WEN created AIS lessons response to the detection of aquatic invasive species in Montana. In collaboration with an AIS consultant and local high school teachers, we developed the Columbia Headwaters Education Kit for AIS (CHEK 4 AIS), a curriculum and series of eight activities compiled in an educational trunk. In addition to the high school program, WEN offers AIS as an extension to middle school stream monitoring programs in Missoula and the Flathead Indian Reservation. 

This AIS program is supported by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Education Grants program and from community partners in western Montana.

Montana Groundwater Academy
9th-12th grade

WEN partners with SpectrUM, Missoula Valley Water Quality District, Missoula Water, and others to provide comprehensive groundwater lessons and well-measurement field trips to Greenough Park. The MGA program exemplifies how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education can help prepare individuals to participate in citizen and professional activities related to managing our water resources. 


WEN has provided Flagship after-school programs for high school students and their own Water Explorations, and elementary and middle school Bug Club. We are also open to any water-related topic a Flagship group wants to try. WEN is eager to have many schools create aquatic wildlife for the WildWalk Parade this year. 

Scheduling Notes 

Class presentations take a minimum of 45 minutes, and fieldtrips require a minimum of 2.5 hours, not including transportation. If you wish to include four stations in your field science experience, please schedule additional time.

After evaluating pre/post test results, we have noticed that students who had class presentations before their field trip learned a lot more from the field experience than those who didn’t. The class presentation consists of vocabulary words, overview of river ecology, and preparation activities for the field trip. WEN provides this big-picture experience so students are better prepared for their field science activities by the river. WEN’s Groundwater/Aquifer Education Program is also a great way to introduce these key concepts that we will be exploring during our field trip along with providing students a day to explore the connection between surface and groundwater.

With this in mind, we ask that teachers please schedule one pre-class visit for our field based programs. Groundwater programs can be scheduled weeks prior to the field trip day as well. An optional post-field trip class presentation is available to bring the observations and data together to give students a more comprehensive analysis of their field day.

Currently, our interactive indoor classroom presentations are being offered. WEN is excited to dive into our 21st year of field science at our local rivers and streams with YOUR students!

*Note: In the case that you need to reschedule a program, we ask for at least 24 hrs notice. We will reciprocate this agreement and give you as much notice as we can if something comes up on our end. Our programs run rain or shine, but in the case of extreme cold weather or storms, we may also need to reschedule your field program.

Spring and high water: As you are all aware, with Montana’s spring run-off comes the high and fast creeks and rivers. WEN has created several alternative river bank and adjacent land activities to provide science experiences for your students. Some field lessons include: bird identification, plant identification and mapping, as well as journaling and visual arts.

Book a Program

WEN strives to combine and tailor programs to fit your curriculum needs, students, age group and river/creek site best. In addition to our programs listed above, we also offer Riparian Plant and Noxious Weed station options, Field Journaling station options and more. Please call the WEN office at (406) 541-9287 or email us at water@montanawatershed.org to discuss customizing your field trip!

Schedule a School Program

Program costs:

We will continue to offer our high quality programming for a course fee of $100/class for all water education programs. A class is considered up to 30 students. We thank you for your understanding that due to reduced funding and growing expenses, our programs need your support to continue. Class fees go towards transportation, equipment and program costs. This being said, WEN will not turn any class away for lack of funding. If the fee presents a problem, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can work with you or discuss ideas for parent support, business sponsors and grants. Some teachers are approaching their school PTA, while others are asking for student contribution of $2-$4 in order to cover the fee. WEN is scouring the community for business sponsors and has scholarship opportunities for two or more classes to participate in our critical water education programs.

Teachers can be trained in School Stream Monitoring Programs (SSMP)

WEN offers of a $25 discount off the program fee for teachers/parents of participating schools joining a training session this spring. We encourage teachers to become more knowledgeable of WEN’s programs and have a solid feel for the field trip experience. Each season we offer School Stream Monitoring and Groundwater trainings to university students and community members alike, and these trained volunteers then join us in the field to assist with instruction of your students. We have found that when teachers attend at least one of these trainings, students and teachers get more out of our field programs. Our training dates are already scheduled and you can RSVP to attend any one of the trainings by emailing water@montanawatershed.org

School Stream Monitoring Programs and Field Trips

SCHOOL STREAM MONITORING PROGRAM & FIELD TRIPS take place at streams and rivers across western Montana each fall and spring. Most schools visit the same reach each season to facilitate seasonal and long-term comparisons of chemical, physical, and biological data. Field trips are a great way for students to get out of the classroom, get field science experience, and learn about their watershed from a scientific inquiry perspective. Most schools complement their field experience with a classroom visit both before and after their trip to the creek to introduce concepts and discuss results respectively.

WHY DOES WEN MONITOR STREAMS? Initial data collected at any one site provides scientists with baseline information about the health of a particular stream. Systematic data collection at the same location over time enables us to form a historical picture of the stream or river’s condition.

In the broader picture, stream monitoring helps students become more familiar with their local waterways. And once acquainted with local streams, they are more apt to notice changes and in watershed health. In this process, students begin to understand how local waterways fit into the larger picture of the watershed. Additionally, increasing awareness and sense-of-place relationships naturally encourages watershed stewardship.

WHAT DO WE MEASURE? Chemical, Physical, and Biological Parameters based on Montana Watercourse’s Volunteer Stream Monitoring Project. We have recently started using Healthy Water/Healthy People Advanced Surface Water Testing Kits, which measure nutrients, turbidity, minerals and electro-conductivity.

Students from Seeley Middle School measure dissolved oxygen at the Chemistry Station.

At the Chemical Station, students measure pH, Dissolved Oxygen (DO), water temperature, and air temperature (both in degrees Celsius).

Three readings are taken with a field pH meter. DO is measured using Hach Kits, in which there are a series of chemicals to add to a water sample that indicate the parts per million of dissolved oxygen. The results tells us whether or not oxygen levels are sufficient for the needs of the aquatic life present. Temperature directly affects the DO, and as such, helps samplers determine causes for increased oxygen depletion or absorption. The correlation between oxygen and temperature is an inverse relationship: as temperature rises, the amount of dissolved oxygen decreases; As the water temperature decreases, the water contains more oxygen (except in deep water lakes).

Students from Woodman Elementary sort macroinvertebrates at the biological station.

Physical Station parameters record stream cross-section, velocity, substrate, bank condition, and channel shape. Visual observations include adjacent land-use, plants, wildlife, and human activity (human presence, footpaths, trash, impacts on plants) soil type, and any restoration efforts.

At the Biological Station, students sample aquatic macro- invertebrates (small, water-living insects without a backbone or with an exoskeleton). Certain insects, such as mayflies, stoneflies and caddisflies, require cold, clean and clear water for survival. As such, these bugs (the same bugs on WEN’s new logo) are indicators of healthy streams.

Students from Rattlesnake Elementary collect macroinvertebrates.


*Respect where you are, whether you are on public land or private property
*Use designated trails
*Keep field site impacts to a minimum; in other words, Leave No Trace.
*Our conduct in the field should set a good example, worthy enough for others to follow.

ADDITIONAL CHOICES FOR TEACHERS: Biological Emphasis, Chemical Emphasis or Physical Emphasis; Native Plants and Weed EducationGroundwater Education, Artistic Emphasis with site sketching and water journal.

Contact our Program Coordinator at water@montanawatershed.org  or call (406) 541-9287 to schedule a field trip and to answer any questions.