No Muddy Waters for Stream Team

Tugging on boots, gloves and goggles, a group of teenagers wades into a creek just downstream from a wastewater treatment plant. This is not some strange initiation rite into a secret society. Instead, these kids are helping protect one of Missouri's most valuable resources. These kids are card-carrying (laminated, of course) members of Stream Team #432, from Reeds Spring High School.

This year, the 15 juniors and seniors who are members of the team will test the waters of Railey Creek in Stone County at five locations each month. For their past efforts, the team, which was formed in 1993, was one of three Missouri high schools honored with the 2002 Stream Team Achievement Award from the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The students from Reeds Spring High School are among 46,000 volunteers statewide who participate in Stream Team projects. Being a stream team member is a good way to participate in the protection and enhancement of Missouri's waterways.

"The work that Stream Teams perform is vital in improving the quality of Missouri's streams," said Tim Rielly, who coordinates volunteer water monitoring for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

"Having those eyes and ears out there really makes a big difference," Rielly said. "They discover problems, and then we go out there. They really add value to our efforts to protect our streams."

"They also change mindsets," Rielly said. "Future generations may think more before they litter and about what goes into their streams."

Passion For Preservation

The Reeds Spring program, led by science teachers Tonya Lewis and Mike Collins, has certainly succeeded in instilling conservation values. Of 104 juniors and seniors who have been Stream Team members over the past 10 years, 69 are now studying or working in an environmentally related field. Among those former students is Amber Spohn. Now a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Spohn is pursuing a degree in hydrology, a field closely related to water quality.

"I want to work with water quality for the rest of my life," Spohn said. "The Stream Team had a huge, huge impact on my life. It laid the building stones for my entire life."

Spohn credits Collins, Lewis and her mother for her commitment.

"They created my passion for water quality," Spohn said. "I was raised by my mother to know there was something out there that was pristine before me, and that we could work