Youth Education

In 2012, CFC launched its formal youth education program to cultivate tomorrow’s river stewards. Using the Clark Fork River as a placed-based teaching tool, our programs foster a science-based understanding of watershed health and active engagement in river stewardship. We tailor our activities appropriately for age group, classroom settings, and experiential learning. The Clark Fork Coalition is committed to providing high quality learning opportunities available to all students in the Clark Fork Watershed. Our programming is available to all K-12 classrooms free of charge.
Contact our Education Manager to find out what types of projects we can bring to your classroom!

Creeks in the Classroom

kids smiling with river hero trophiesCreeks in the Classroom lets educators choose from a variety of hands-on watershed learning activities appropriate for younger learners – typically, grades K-8. This set of Watershed 101 lessons utilizes interactive activities to cover an array of topics tailored to fit your school community. See program descriptions and standards alignment for all our Creek programs below.

Hands-on activities available to your students include:

  • Enviroscape – an interactive 3-D watershed model that helps students investigate the movement and impacts of point and non-point pollution. Students practice developing solutions to pollution and explore the impacts of best management practices in their watershed.
  • Edible Aquifer – a fun, engaging activity in which students create a functioning aquifer model using edible materials. Students learn how water is stored and moves undergrounds, and investigate the factors that can impact groundwater quantity and quality.
  • Snow and Tell – a unique hands-on curriculum where students investigate the connection between snowfall and water storage, stream flow, and the health of our aquatic ecosystems. Students use the inquiry process and actual snow pack data to form and investigate research questions.

Riparian Rx 

Kids plantingRiparian Rx is a flexible program designed to supplement K-12 classrooms with standards-based field learning opportunities. We partner with local county and city managers to create field activities that tackle real-world watershed needs. Through classroom visits and hands-on restoration activities students learn to assess riparian health and water quality, and answer important questions about the quality and resiliency of local rivers and streams. This project-based format is ideal for creating cross-curricular connections, enhancing critical thinking, and deepening awareness and investment in watershed needs.


“The Water Quality District has partnered exclusively with CFC in tapping students to implement our riparian management plans for subdivisions in Missoula County. It’s a win-win for us, as it helps our agency both on the ground and in our outreach efforts as well.” – Travis Ross, Environmental Health Specialist, Missoula Valley Water Quality District


Hands on the Ranch 

Hands on the RanchHands on the Ranch is designed to give high school students hands-on experience with the science and technology shaping the unprecedented Superfund cleanup of the Upper Clark Fork River. Students partner with professional scientists to gather data on soil profiles and pre-cleanup contamination levels; count and identify aquatic insects; and evaluate changes to riparian plant health. Hands on the Ranch gives high school students the tools to assess stream and soil health, evaluate stream restoration solutions, and prepares them for higher education and career opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Read about our Hands on the Ranch program!