Biology Teacher Expands Classroom Learning

January 08, 2017 | Timothy Kosaka

Students learn a lot through textbooks, lectures, experiments and homework. But Judy Castrejón, Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) science and biology teacher, has a passion for making a difference for her students and for her local Spangle, Wash., community.

She invited Kat Hall, the financial administrator of the Washington State Lands Council, to educate UCA students about water pollution and the negative effects created if no action is taken.

 “We are not just a school in the community. We want to educate our kids and help them to get involved,” says Castrejón. Most recently, she involved her class in a project that, when completed, will have widespread and long-lasting effects. “In this project, they’ll be bringing about healing to the ecology, but also to the community,” Castrejón adds.

That project is part of Washington state’s Riparian Establishment conservation project. It will help prevent pollutants from entering the Hangman Creek Watershed, a network of streams that runs right through the town UCA calls home.

To help with the restoration, Castrejón, her colleagues and many UCA students will plant bushes and trees around the creek, building a buffer to prevent pollutants from running into the creek and thus improving the quality of the water.

“The opportunity that we have been given to better our environment and community is a great and humbling experience,” says Blake Johnson, UCA sophomore.