Lee County teachers turn water quality lessons into action


A group of Lee County teachers is practicing what they preach.

They’re taking what they’ve learned at the Watershed Teacher Leadership Academy and using that to teach their students how to protect the water quality in Southwest Florida.

“We’re trying to tap into the knowledge of researchers and see how can we have some more hands-on activities, get the kids outdoors, get the kids excited about science,” said Matt Whitmer, a science teacher at Cypress Lake High School.

In his lesson, Whitmer tests different aquatic plants to see how they respond to fertilizer, which may have given teachers a glimpse into how the environment’s smallest creatures respond to it.

“It looked like they were not doing well with the high concentration of fertilizer in the water,” Whitmer said.

Those lessons can be applied to real-world problems, like the water quality crisis.

“To study water quality, to study watershed, to study how plants and nutrients interact, to study what is good water quality, what is bad water quality,” explained Dr. Serge Thomas, associate professor at The Water School at Florida Gulf Coast University.

“They’re anticipating somebody’s going to do something about it. That somebody’s us,” Whitmer said.

He plans to share the lesson with his students after they return from spring break.

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