A group of teens is helping to ensure a waterway remains healthy.
"The history of Butler Creek is anything but healthy," said Ruth Mead, an education specialist for the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy, who facilitates the group called the Creek Freaks.
Once a month through the Adopt-A-Stream program, the teens monitor critical levels in Butler Creek in south Richmond County, which has made a comeback and now is considered to be healthy. "It's a great feeling - our creek is a good creek," she said.
The Creek Freaks began monitoring the creek in August 2003 along with doing some restoration efforts. Once a quarter, the teens spend a Saturday catching macro-invertebrates in the part of the creek located at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park.
For their efforts, the teens have earned the club two national awards including the President's Environmental Youth Award.
About a dozen teens participate in the program, Ms. Mead said.
"Taking caring of the environment - I think that's important," said John Hughes, a 17-year-old home school student, who has been part of the Creek Freaks since it started.
Each month, the students collect water samples from the creek and test the samples for dissolved oxygen levels, temperature, pH levels and other criteria. The data is then sent to the state where it is recorded. The Adopt-A-Stream program is under the auspices of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.
Allegra Yeley, a John S. Davidson Fine Arts School junior, said working with the group is helping her build a foundation for her future.
"I want to study environmental law," she said. "I'm passionate about the environment. I don't think we've taken enough care of it."
The Creek Freaks meets at 4:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park.
The Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy offers three additional clubs to elementary and middle school pupils to pique their interest in science.
The Cattail Kids Clubs is for kindergarten through second graders; the Gator Gang is for third- through fifth-grade pupils and the Muskrateers is for sixth- through eighth-graders. All three introduce pupils to a variety of science educational activities.
For more information about the clubs, call (706) 828-2109.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.