Janet Ort - Hoover High School
Janet Ort teaches AP/IB Environmental Science, environmental science and environmental research at Hoover High School in Hoover, Ala.
Ort, a 13-year veteran at the school, celebrated National Public Lands Day by working with her students to clean up and monitor the water quality of the Cahaba River, near the school grounds, which are bordered by more than a mile of the river.
By engaging her students in a service project, she not only succeeds at connecting her students to their local environment, but augments her curricular emphasis on watersheds and examining the impact that students have on their environment.
The Cahaba River offers a rich learning ground not only because of its internationally recognized freshwater biodiversity—the river has more fish per a mile than any other river in North America—but also because of its important connection to the people of Alabama, serving as the primary source of drinking water for one-fifth of the state’s residents. Ort demonstrates to students how their local clean-up and volunteer citizen monitoring can positively impact the river’s ecosystem, and the health of the watershed that drains into rivers all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
Ort makes her environmental science lessons come alive with real-world experiences. She uses partnerships with two agencies to support her teaching: the Cahaba River Society and Alabama Water Watch (AWW). The Cahaba River Society works to restore and protect the Cahaba River watershed and its rich diversity of life. The AWW promotes citizen volunteer water monitoring and personal involvement in watershed stewardship. AWW was part of a recently announced $300,000 EPA grant to fund a project across the Gulf of Mexico, including U.S. states and provinces in Mexico.
Through the grant, Ort’s students will be part of an international effort to reduce the impact that livestock production and agricultural runoff has on the Gulf of Mexico.