1.4. Finding a Team

If you are already a member of an organized group (watershed, fishing, river, guiding/scouting, environmental, natural history, or community club), you may want to skip the next section and move directly to First Steps - How to Begin the Program.

Community Groups

- Are you a municipal official?

- Are you a concerned citizen with an interest in the health of a local watercourse that would like to interest others to join you?
Don't feel that you have to be the "expert". Stress to interested people that this manual is user-friendly and that help is available. Mention the fun you will have working together.

If so, this section will give you some tips and ideas. Before trying to organize a group, be organized yourself. Become familiar with this manual so that you can readily explain the program to others.

Take your pitch for the Adopt-A-Stream program to an existing community group first. Many areas have natural history clubs, or community service groups that are looking for worthwhile projects. Environmental projects are increasingly popular as people become more aware of the problems facing our natural world. If these groups are not interested, they will probably give you advice about who else in the community might be.

Look for ways of working with other local groups. Maybe schools can help you find the history of the watercourse; a local industry will contribute materials. The seniors' club may provide you with valuable information and insight on what the area was once like. Be creative and involve as many people as possible.

School Groups

If you are a teacher who is thinking about using this program, this section will give you some further information. By choosing to become involved in Adopt-A-Stream you will join other teachers who are doing practical, outdoor projects to help the environment while teaching about it.

Teachers will probably use different groups of children over a specific period of time. The Adopt-A-Stream program fits very well into Junior and Senior High curricula covering such areas as local and provincial history, as well as ecology and biology. Senior elementary students may be used for some aspects of the work, such as clean-ups and releasing of small fish.

As well as relating to different curricula, the program provides a valuable outdoor and environmental experience. The combination of class work, outdoor research, and the rehabilitation of a watercourse can be powerful tools for creating environmental citizenship in your students while they learn the basics of biology and ecology and develop research skills. Your school may adopt the watercourse you choose over a time so that different students become involved in the work from year-to-year.

Here are some important things to consider in trying to motivate your students or other teachers.
- Children will be more involved in the "adoption" process if the watercourse has some personal, everyday meaning and relevance to them. For example, an easily accessible watercourse near your school would be a good choice. Perhaps this watercourse has some local historical significance. Choosing something that children "already know" enhances the stewardship process.

- Think seriously about getting parents and other interested community members involved. A joint project takes some responsibility off your shoulders. Local service or naturalist clubs are a good starting point.

- Keep in mind that this program is not just a classroom exercise. Your students will be involved in fieldwork regularly. (Make sure you can get transportation to and from the fieldwork area; in these days of budget constraints, picking an area close by is advisable.)

- Don't worry about how much personal experience you have with ecology and biology or fieldwork. This manual has been designed to take you through all the necessary steps.

- This program can be linked to other curriculum and environmental programs as supplementary material. The Adopt-A-Stream program can be used with the Aquatic module of the Project Wild program, and with Fish Friends, a project of the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

Youth Groups

If you are an adult leader of a youth group (Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, 4-H) see how the Adopt-A-Stream program can fit into your "badge" programs and investigate the possibility of coordination and cooperation with other youth groups in the area.