On July 24, Jasper residents met at Maddox Middle School for an Alabama Water Watch certification workshop. Margaret Vandiver discovered there is always something new to learn about protecting the environment at the Alabama Water Watch certification workshop Thursday. Vandiver has been a soil conservation technician for 28 years. She has worked for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and is currently employed with the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District.
On Thursday, Vandiver, and fourteen other participants learned how to monitor water quality by measuring pH, temperature, total alkalinity, total hardness, dissolved oxygen and turbidity. “I’ve been working with ph tests for years, especially when I was with NRCS. This one was a little more sophisticated than what I’ve been used to, and I enjoyed that. It was more updated,” Vandiver said. Katherine Patton, district administrative coordinator for the Walker County Soil and Water Conservation District, said she will use what she learned in the workshop in outdoor classroom activities sponsored by her office. “My goal is to be very active with the school system,” Patton said.
The six-hour workshop was held at Maddox Middle School and conducted by Patti Hurley of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. Participants spent some time in the classroom, but they also took at field trip to nearby Town Creek to evaluate water quality and study some of the animals in the creek. Town Creek underwent an extensive revitalization this summer. Paul Kennedy, executive director of the Walker Area Community Foundation, said the Town Creek project provided an ideal setting for environmental workshops and outdoor classrooms.
It also attracted outsiders who came in to work on the project and left praising the support they received from community members. “It’s bringing people in,” Kennedy said. “People have a preconception of what Walker County is. We can’t dispel that unless we get them in the county. Once they get in here once, like those contractors, they want to come back.”