Mobile learning center rolls into MCS & OCS

By Brian Sweeney
Students at Margaretville and Onteora received innovative instruction last week when the districts were visited by a mobile tractor trailer focused on watershed education.

More than 500 area students in grades two through high school experienced the “America's Watersheds in FOCUS,” exhibit, part of a seven-city educational tour presented by the US Forest Service and the Wyland Foundation.

The mobile unit was located at Onteora on Monday and Tuesday, the 10 and 11 and at Margaretville on the 12th and 13th.

The rolling educational center made stops in the Catskills through the coordinated efforts of The Catskill Center, US Forest Service, Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) and Common Ground Educational Consulting, all partners promoting sustainable land use in the NYC Watershed.
The Wyland Clean Water Mobile Learning Experience is a 1,000-square-foot interactive exhibit on wheels solely dedicated to demonstrating the many ways water shapes everyone’s lives.

The exhibit utilizes models to explore the nature of watersheds. Exhibits on the mobile van depict the movement of water in bounded hydrologic systems — via rain over a city landscape, a running river, computer model simulations and a 40-person multi-sensory theater.

As part of the tour, the foundation and USFS unveiled a new exhibit entitled “Our Watersheds, Our Legacy,” which provides an interactive high-definition photographic journey through the nation's most important watersheds, utilizing the latest dual touch screen technology. The exhibit allows large numbers of visitors to manipulate high-resolution images of regional watersheds from the Mississippi River to the Chesapeake Bay, including the ability to zoom in and out for a broad view as well as a granular detail with the swipe of a finger.

The mobile unit tour is an extension of FOCUS, (Forests, Oceans, Climate - and Us), the innovative joint educational venture between the Wyland Foundation, US Forest Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Nearly 60 percent of all fresh water supplies in the United States originate on Forest Service lands. Moreover, the forests where the water originates also play an important role in regulating our climate.

The Wyland Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving the world’s ocean, waterways and marine life. Established in 1993 by renowned environmental artist and conservationist Wyland, the foundation encourages environmental awareness through education programs, public arts projects, and community events.

“It’s one thing to learn about watersheds in school,” Wyland says. "But this exhibit literally rolls into underserved communities and puts educational resources into the hands of people to give them a broader sense of what watersheds do and how important our watersheds are."
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