December 29, 2011

Wanna Be A Part?

Are you nterested in National Service? Do words like water quality, conservation, recycling, and weatherization make you happy? How about working for the Great Smokey Mountains National Park? Then look into a position with Knoxville's CA...C AmeriCorps program! For a full listing of positions avaliable (including a particularly awesome water quality gig in Farragut!) visit the AmeriCorps CAC blog at
or apply via the MyAmeriCorps portal here.

December 20, 2011

Go with the Flow

Jess and I continue our dry weather screening despite the cold, cold water.  The water level was up to our waists (well, my waist, Jessica's shoulders I suppose).  Despite the sometimes treacherous journey down the creek today we celebrated in finding the kind of discharge we had been looking for -

That's a lot of water!
I get excited anytime we have the chance to do some chemical testing.  The good news about today's testing results was that the water being pumped into the creek from an unknown source was actually cleaner than the water already present in the creek.  That's not bad news!

Jess uses our GPS unit to map outlets going into the creek.

The two raindrops represent the legs of Turkey Creek that have been assessed and mapped.  Not much more to go!

December 19, 2011

The Screen Door

Here in Farragut we don't call our community volunteers just anything that denotes unpaid service.  Oh no.  Here they are called 'Farragut's Unsung Navy'.  Epic.

I have the fortune of working with a member of Farragut's Unsung Navy (though now that I've blogged about her is she technically sung?) in completing dry weather screening for our Stormwater Matters program.  What does dry weather screening entail?  Well you see, Jessica and I have the very fun job of donning waders and walking miles of stream to search for illicit discharges into Turkey Creek.

This would be an example of an outlet we would map and assess for discharges.

Here's an example of a outlet that would be mapped and assessed - a sprinkler system intake/discharge.

Jess uses GPS technology to map stormwater outlets.

December 15, 2011


Strong.  Resiliant.  Service Oriented.

AmeriBadger takes what he wants.

December 13, 2011

Outdoor Classrooms 101

The vast majority of my school experience was spent within the confines of high stacked cinderblocks painted a cheery shade of uber-beige with the occasional rectangular window with bars over the glass. The principal like to refer to them as shade louvers...but us students called them bars. Don't get me wrong, it was the non-tangible things that I took in during my primary schooling that meant the most - not the structure which held me. Nonetheless I cringe every time I pass those louvers.

That being said I can't help but get a little excited when the topic of outdoor classrooms comes up among community members and my fellow AmeriCorps members. Before coming to the Knoxville area I had never heard the two words put together in such a way before. I was a bit baffled at first. Afterall, if a classroom is outdoors then how do you stick pencils in the ceiling tiles or put gum under you desk? It didn't make sense. Gum and pencil placement aside I have had ample opportunity to learn what these classrooms are all about. The more I learn, the more I wish I had them in my primary schooling.

Part of my service position as the Water Quality Assistant for Farragut is to help in the development of our own outdoor classroom. While the current site is a mostly empty field adjacent to Turkey Creek, with a bit of elbow grease and a healthy application of good ideas and community involvement it can be up and running within the next few years. As far as my part goes, just yesterday I found out I was awarded a $500 grant to allow for the planting of trees within our outdoor classroom to act as riparian stabilizers. Cool eh?

In order to get a grasp on what makes outdoor classroom so successful, Farragut's community volunteer Jessica and myself went on a tour of four Knox County OC locations led by AmeriCorps Water Quality Team Member, Kelsey.

(Photos taken by Jessica!)

Karns High - Many OCs are certified arboretums.
West High - This OC features raised gardens as well as a butterfly garden.
West High - Rainwater harvesting.
Halls High - This OC not only acts as a learning area for students but also as a attractive and very effective stormwater buffer.
Gibbs High - OCs offer students the chance to learn outside of day-to-day environments while allowing them to directly connect with the natural world around them.
Halls High - This classroom also serves as an attractive community space for local residents as well as students.
Gibbs - Shop Class students are using their carpentry skills to create a green roof on this OC storage shed.

Thanks CAC!

December 7, 2011

Creative Colleagues

Lauren, Farragut's Event Coordinator, did this artist rendering of the mysterious Storm Drain Superhero today.

Jason, Farragut's Stormwater Coordinator, made this cake for our Pollution Prevention training.  I ate the oil slick :)