Our Signature Environmental Project.

Columbia-Patuxent Rotary’s Signature Environmental Project

12227243067?profile=RESIZE_584xIn June of 2020 Rotary International’s Board of Directors unanimously approved adding a new area of focus – supporting the environment – to give a new dimension to its traditional aims of improving lives and creating a better world.

In response, the Rotary Club of Columbia-Patuxent adopted its own signature environmental undertaking – a stream monitoring project aimed at improving small waterways in Howard County.  Our club is collaborating with other local partners to address water quality as we (1)support ongoing monitoring with equipment and volunteer; (2) provide education and training opportunities; (3) support youth participation in these efforts; and (4) promote thought-to-action using citizen science to inform action.

Our project involves two types of monitoring – biological and chemical. “Biological monitoring is counting and identification of specific benthic macroinvertebrates (aquatic animals without backbones) found in a water sample,” according to Paul Goldenberg, Environmental Committee chairman.  “What’s good about macros is that they give you a reading on the health of that stream over time. Chemical monitoring finds out what mineral and organic substances are affecting water quality.”


In conjunction with Patapsco Heritage Greenway and the Izaak Walton League, three clubmembers trained as stream monitors for ongoing Rotarian volunteer support of water sampling. We’re also partnering with the Howard County Conservancy, which issued its first Watershed Report Card in 2014 and established a Youth Climate Institute in 2020 for high school environmental science, biology and earth science teachers and students. One of our club’s most recent grants will support the Institute’s expansion into additional county high schools.

The Community Ecology Institute is interested in stream monitoring at a new site, which we believe offers the chance for more participation by multiple high school environmental clubs and Youth Climate Institute chapters, as well as Interact clubs.

“Climate is a huge issue for teenagers, as it should be,” Paul said. “This generation that doesn’t see the world as being a great place is willing to deal with the issue.”  We also envision enlisting Scouts and other community groups to identify monitoring sites and take on stream restoration efforts. The idea is not just doing cleanup, Paul said, “it’s really about learning stuff, doing somereal hands-on science and coming up with projects that have an impact on our environment.”



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