Snowball Activity

(5 minutes)

Students should read the 9-Element Watershed Management Plan (available on the Resources page) before completing this activity. 

Have students take out a scrap piece of paper. Write down one sentence summarizing something they learned from the 9-Element Watershed Management Plan (WMP). Instructions to students: Crumple it up into a ball and throw it to someone across the room (all at once). Pick up a snowball, if you didn’t catch one. Read what was written and add another thing you learned from the WMP. Crumple it up and throw it again. Repeat. Throw them all to the front of the room. Instructor picks up a few and reads them aloud to the class.

It is likely that most of the key and supplemental learning objectives will be covered pursuant to this activity.

Problem Identification Activity

(10 minutes)

Students are assigned to small groups; each group is assigned one of the four campus watersheds. Referring to the Watershed Management Plan, the PowerPoint, background readings, and the video, groups will assess their watershed regarding pollution, and answer the following questions:

  1. Is there evidence of problems (pollution, water quality, water quantity) in your stream/watershed?
  2. What source(s) are likely contributing to the issue(s)? How do you know?

Rubric: For question 1 look for answers that include sediment, toxic chemicals such as pesticides and heavy metals, nutrients such as fertilizers, stormwater runoff, fecal coliform from leaking sewer pipes or animal waste and evidence such as results of water quality monitoring and visual assessments.  For question 2 look for answers such as leaking sewer lines, pet waste, car oil tanks, construction runoff, etc.


Problem-Solving Activity

(15-20 minutes)

Students are assigned to small groups; each group is assigned one of the four campus watersheds. Based on their identification of the issues from the previous activity:

  1. What management strategies do you think would be best to try with this watershed? Why?
  2. For each strategy, advise on whether individual or collective action is more appropriate; whether incentives or regulations would be appropriate; and sources of funding (taxpayers, polluters, landowners, UGA, etc.)

Problem-Solving Activity II

Option A: Students are assigned to small groups; each group may be assigned one of the four campus watersheds. For the issues and/or solutions from the PowerPoint, and/or from the prior activities:

  • Develop a series of action steps to motivate the on-campus/student community to address a particular campus watershed concern
  • Develop a series of action steps to motivate the off-campus/general Athens community to address a particular campus watershed concern

Option B: Recall the first example of pollution from the PowerPoint. Students at UGA discovered leaking sewer lines that ran under Broad Street. Recall the second example of pollution from the PowerPoint. A major source of fecal coliform in our waterways is dog waste. Both of these types of pollution affect our watersheds here in Athens. Answer the following questions in small-group discussion and/or in writing.


  1. What is the difference between the two situations? Which is point source and which is nonpoint source?
  2. Does management of each problem involve Individual action? Collective action?
  3. Should these problems be resolved using incentives or regulation? (e.g., would you enact a law to change behavior? Why or why not?)
  4. If you do think a law is necessary, how would it motivate behavior change?
  5. (a.) Think of another source of pollution or human-induced disturbance to campus or any other rivers/streams that might best be resolved using a regulation and explain why.  (b.) Think of another source of pollution or human-induced disturbance that might best be resolved using incentives. (c.) Think of another source of pollution or human-induced disturbance that might best be resolved using other means (such as basic education) and who should provide those means.


Problem Solving Activity III

(30-60 minutes)

Students work individually on computers, but have an associated group of 4-5. This activity is best performed on laptops (students can work in pairs if not everyone has a laptop) or in a computer lab.

Part A (20-30 minutes): Explore the EPA’s Water website (links above). Look at what the EPA recommends as individual actions to protect water and what collective actions are proposed (both in the form of regulations and incentive programs).

Consider one of the human impacts to campus watersheds that have been discussed in this module. Using information and arguments from the readings, website, PowerPoint, and class discussions, answer the following questions:

  1. Which of your personal actions affect the watershed? What can you do in your personal life to mitigate those effects?
  2. When might collective actions be called for? Provide examples. If collective action is necessary, is incentive or regulation more appropriate? Why?
  3. Are some human impacts unavoidable? Why or why not?
  4. How do you motivate the Athens community to mitigate or minimize the impact of this disturbance?

Part B (next class period or latter half of class): Use your computer to create a presentation of your answers to these questions to be presented to your group during the next class period (or at the end of class, depending on how long class lasts).

Creative Activity

Draw/describe how different the ecosystems at UGA would be without the human-induced watershed impacts we see (including impervious surfaces, channelization, pollution [point and nonpoint source], and invasive species). Evidence can be an essay, artistic piece, policy, social situation, or any other appropriate assessment.

Invasive Species PowerPoint Presentation Activity

(Est. Time 20 minutes) Introduction to Invasive Species (Lecture with Powerpoint)

  • What are exotic-invasive plants?
    • What makes an species-invasive
  • Why are they a concern to forests, people and watershed health?
    • Outcompete / damage native ecosystems (biodiversity, health and productivity)
    • Economic impacts
    • Characteristics of invasive species
  • What can UGA do (effective management strategies)?
    • Removal / Herbicide / biological spread
    • Establishment of native vegetation helps local wildlife

Group Discussion and Plant Identification

Students will form small groups for this activity (5-12 students per group)

(Option A) The whole activity is completed in the classroom

(Option B) The class goes outside to identify invasive exotic plants on campus, the last writing activity then becomes homework assignment. Handout can be printed using the associated invasive species pdf files.

Est. Time 10 minutes (21-31 minutes into class)
Students are to form small groups (5-12 students depending on class size and instructor preference) to answer the questions below using online resources (below) provided and learn to identify five common invasive exotic plants on campus.

This activity requires that either plant samples be collected from around campus by the instructor before class so that physical samples can be placed in students hands, or pictures of invasive-exotic plants can be obtained using the links below if students have internet access or printed for handouts using the associated pdf files.

Suggested invasive exotic plants for students to learn: English Ivy, Privet, Winter Creeper, Bush Honeysuckle, Sacred Bamboo (pdf files available via links below or within the module support files)

Questions for students to answer about invasive exotic plants in a notebook for future reference and discussion.

1. What is the name of the invasive exotic plant?

2. How/why was the plant introduced/promoted in the US and Georgia?

3. What is the shape leaf (draw a picture of the leaf)

4. What color(s) are the leaves?

5. How does the plant grow? (vine, shrub, tree?)

6. Is the plant evergreen or deciduous?

7. Does it produce berries or other fruits, if so what color are they?

8. How does the plant spread?

9. How does this plant negatively impact the environment?

Replacement Native Species

Est. Time 8 minutes (32-40 minutes into class)

Students continuing working with their groups. Students should look up 5 native species that could replace the invasive exotic plant species studied above. Students should answer the following questions in their notebook about the native species.

1. What is the name of the native plant?

2. What invasive exotic plant species do you think it best replaces, and why?

3. If used on UGA’s campus, how could this native species support the health of UGA’s watersheds?

Suggested native plants for students to learn use: American Holly, Trumpet Honeysuckle, Butterfly Milkweed, Virginia Creeper. (currently no pdf of native species)

Links for Suggested Invasive Exotic Species which include images:

American Holly (Ilex opaca):

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa):

Oconee Azalea:

Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens):

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia):

Think and Share

Est. Time 7 minutes (41-48 minutes into class)
Students are to write on the prompt below for 2 minute and should be prepared to share their response with the class.

A. (Think – 2 minute) Tweet Prompt in 140 characters or less “Draft a memo to President Morehead about how UGA should reduce the impact of invasive species on watershed on campus”

B. (Share – 5 minutes) The instructor will ask students to share their answers with the entire class and promote discussion. Many of the answers may be the same, so once students’ answers become repetitive, the instructor should ask for responses that are different than what has already been suggested.

Additional Resources:

Bringing Nature Home, Book and Blog:

Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem:

Georgia Invasive Species Task Force:

Georgia Native Plant Society:

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center's Native Plant Database:

U.S. Forest Service,.Miller, J.H., Manning, S. T. and Enloe, S. F. A Management Guide for Invasive Plants in Southern Forest. Available for Forest Service Office for free but the River Basin Center may have additional copies available.

USDA National Invasive Species Information Center:

Reflective Writing Homework Assignment

Writing Prompt: How can the urban environment (UGA campus, your yard, downtown Athens, and shopping centers around the loop) influence the spread of exotic-species and/or help maintain biodiversity and pollinators like bees and butterflies?

Length: 1 page

Additional activity: Ask student to sit for 30 minutes in one outdoor location before they begin their writing assignment.

Artwork Assignment

Collect materials from at least five different invasive-exotic species. Use these materials to explore how urban areas and humans influence the spread on invasive-exotic species and loss of native species using artistic interpretation.

Informative Poster Assignment

Create a poster about an invasive species that can be displayed in a public location to education the public about a specific invasive species, how to identify it, its impact on the ecosystem and native plants that are alternatives for gardening and landscaping.

Exploration and Documentation

Students are to walk to pre-assigned regions of campus and document invasive species. Find five locations of invasive species growing on campus and identify the species, geotag the location and add to a map of campus. Discuss the following topics in a 1-2 page reflection paper. Are the invasive-exotic species growing wild or were they planted, what native species could be used instead, if invasive plants are present in a planted area or if the area is a natural area, how could the area be ecologically restored? What benefits would this have on the local environment (for birds, pollinators, reducing erosion, stream bank stabilization, etc.)?

Alternative Activity Topics: Research an additional invasive species and write how it impacts the environment.

Writing the Watershed 1

Observation is a very personal act. You are not just having experiences but also gaining knowledge. This knowledge itself is broader than simply vision. Think of also of sound, smell, taste, and touch (with touch not confined just to the fingers). Over time even shifts in the landscape occur, e.g., changing weather, shifting seasons, even changing climate. Look at the raw data or the behavior, first -- get that down because you might not have a second chance.

Go outside and observe for 10 minutes. Make a list of 10 things or events you see/hear/smell/taste/feel.

Writing the Watershed 2

Think about all the times a particular image in a watershed has appeared in your life. This may be a favorite place in nature or some magnificent experience. Now you will be composing from memory rather than writing in the field.

Take 10 minutes to write that scene.

Writing the Watershed 3

Writing is not about emoting but mission. It has to be grounded in the concrete.

In this story-telling phase, be specific, use concrete detail, use analogy, and/or use natural history to conjure place. You are bearing witness to a world unknown by others.

Description -- What's it like? How would I recognize it?

Interpretation -- What is the relationship of this object to others in space and time? What happens when natural history and personal history meet?

Speculation or Reflection -- What does this have to teach us? What truth does it give me? Why does it attract or repel me? Reach for the links between science and imagination.  

Writing the Watershed: Quickies

Ten things I love about ______________ (the river, the watershed, etc.)

What did I see the first time I saw _____________________.

Writing the Watershed: Longer Writing

Write two to three pages on one of the follow:

A place in the watershed I really love is ________.

In my wildest dreams I would be able to ______for the watershed.

What possesses/obsesses you about watersheds?