The WRWC brings environmental and science education to all levels of students in the Watershed and especially around the Woonasquatucket River (aka the Woony). Starting in North Smithfield and running through the heart of Providence, the Woony is a place where everyone can enjoy nature. However, because of the river’s past as a source of power for industry, there are some dangers of which you should be aware. The WRWC wants everyone, especially kids, to use and enjoy the wonderful natural resources adjacent to their homes and schools, but to do so safely. We teach everyone the “Dos and Don’ts of the Woonasquatucket,” and hope to continue improving the health of our river by connecting people to nature in meaningful, respectful, and positive ways. Our environmental education programs immerse students in hands-on, interactive, STEAM activities to harness a passion for the natural resources that surround them and teach them about how they can take action. We now reach over 700 youth and teens in grades K-12 each year, and educate them to become Woony River Heroes! Talk to us about bringing our programs to your students today. Learn about all the ways you can give to support WRWC’s efforts to continue making future Woony River Heroes!Contact our Environmental Education Director for more information
Birds of the Woony: Practicing Mindfulness through Birds – Focusing on 3rd grade, this program teaches students about the wonderful world of Woony birds while practicing observation and mindfulness skills. In each lesson, students learn a mindfulness technique and then take flight into learning about the science of birds. We end this program with a field trip to a site along the Woonasquatucket River to put our learned skills to the test! Lessons include:
Fish in the Classroom: Cultivating environmental stewardship through hands-on fish education – Geared towards 4th grade, this program allows students to take a deep dive into the life of a brook trout, a fish that needs our help! Partnering with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), students explore the various aspects of a watershed and the Woony river throughout the school year. They also receive the opportunity to raise brook trout in their school and release them into the Woonasquatucket River in a fun-filled field trip. Lessons include:
Fun with the Woony – Fish in the Classroom has been so successful that we’ve created an afterschool version called Fun with Fish! This six-week program gives students grades K-5 the opportunity to learn more about the Woony River and what lives in it. We bring the river to them through interactive games, fish observations, and outdoor play.
Teacher, William D’Abate Elementary School – “Programs like Fish in the Classroom encourage kids to enjoy outside, to value the environment, and most importantly to want to protect the environment.”
Student, Spaziano Elementary School – “My class is going to raise and release fish into the river. I’m so excited!”
River Adventurers After School – This catalyst program continues to get middle school youth excited about exploring the environment. Each session, our youth visit the Woonasquatucket parks and Greenway as a part of this exciting after-school program where they:
The ongoing outdoor activities that make up the River Adventures curriculum teach students to become stewards of their local environment, and to respect and care for nature.
River Adventurers In-School – This version of our after-school program brings the river to the students! Directed towards 7th grade, WRWC staff engages students in activities that focus on the Woonasquatucket River watershed, the creatures in and around the river and how to become environmental stewards. We end our curriculum with a field trip to the Woonasquatucket River to connect in class learning to the real world of the outdoors! Lessons include:
River Adventurers Student – “I’ll be recruiting my friends for the next session!
Teacher, St. Augustine School – “Whenever I say WRWC is coming, the students get so excited. The lessons the WRWC staff bring are hands on and allow the students to engage in something real rather than just in a textbook. The students this year have been thriving in River Adventurers.”
Environmental Leaders – This year-long high school program teaches students about the environmental issues within our community. Through a “Learn One–Research One–Teach One” model, students receive the opportunity to use the scientific method to explore the Woonasquatucket River watershed and create a passion project based on their career, personal and environmental interests.
In the “Learn One” semester, topics include:
These projects help young adults advance and direct their learning and encourage them to delve deeper into subjects that interest them. When our new leaders teach what they’ve learned to the community, they truly become environmental leaders.
Environmental Leaders Student – “Thank you for teaching us about our environment and how to advocate for our community. I feel more passionate about keeping my community clean!”
MET Advisor – “I was talking with other advisors that are a part of the Environmental Leaders program. They talked about their deep appreciation that WRWC has provided kids with some outdoor activity, environmental awareness, and relevant project work in a year where it is difficult to come by for some students. Other advisors have expressed the same enthusiasm about the benefits of this program.”
The WRWC became an educational resource during the 1990s, in an effort to teach local youth how to safely interact with the Woonasquatucket River. Not knowing the river held dangerous toxins such as dioxin, neighborhood kids would swim and fish in the river to beat the heat. The WRWC started reaching out to teach kids and their families river safety, first through volunteer Junior River Rangers and later through WRWC staff. The WRWC’s efforts grew, and in 2009, we began our middle school programming in partnership with Providence After School Alliance (PASA). Later, in 2011, we began our elementary level program, “Fish in the Classroom” at Paul Cuffee Lower Elementary. In 2015, the WRWC formally created an education program, expanding it to include “Environmental Leaders,” “Community Field Days” in 2016, “Fun with Fish” in 2017, and “Birds of the Woony” in 2022. What started as a way to keep kids safe has grown to become a way to engage them in their environment.
We are so grateful to have partnered with the schools and organizations below. We hope to expand our efforts further throughout the watershed!
Come see what WRWC Education is all about!