A River Can't Defend Itself in Court: the Role of the Riverkeeper

Keywords: Management, Advocacy, Ecosystems; Grade Level: 9-12; Total Time Required: 1-2 instructional periods; Setting: indoor classroom

Subjects Covered:  Philosophy, Language, Art
Topics Covered:  Resource Management, Citizenship, Stewardship

Goals for the Lesson

Evaluate four management techniques for protecting water resources (litigation, awareness, habitat restoration, monitoring, etc) with respect to importance

Materials Needed

Computer Lab, K-W-L chart, Science Notebook

State Standards Addressed:
4.6.12 #C
Analyze how human action and natural changes affect the balance within an ecosystem.
• Analyze the effects of substances that move through natural cycles.
• Analyze the effects of natural occurrences and their effects on ecosystems.
• Analyze effects of human action on an ecosystem.
• Compare the stages of succession and how they influence the cycles existing in an ecosystem.

Analyze the local, regional and national impacts of environmental health.
• Analyze the cost of natural disasters in both dollars and loss of natural habitat.
• Research and analyze the local, state and national laws that deal with point and nonpoint source pollution; evaluate the costs and benefits of these laws.


This lesson should follow immediately from the lesson where urban tracks of land bordering a river are "developed" by students according to sound/unsound principles, only to find that when their tracks are connected, what one track ("township") does with their land directly affects the township below it.  Thus, who manages a shared resource such as water?

 Begin by introducing the idea of a "riverkeeper"; and explore the notion of a river having "rights" that go along with this role.  Quote the DE Riverkeeper.

Guided Notebook Entry, K-W-L Chart:  Riverkeepers
Guide the "K" column
-waterways are a shared resource
-waterways have lots of uses (transportation, development, agriculture, recreation, etc.)
-"Riverkeepers have something to do with protecting the river.  From What?

-Have students go to computer lab investigate DE River websites Delaware River Action | Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Delaware Riverkeeper) and fill out Research Handout (this will consist of minimal writing and allow for responses to be based solely on pictures.  Teacher guidance provided on a 1-on-1 basis.  ELL students partner w/others, also.  The handout will ask for 4-6 actions taken by riverkeepers and their organizations, and identify the one they think is the most important/one they would want to get involved in. Complete K-W-L chart as group, then individually.  Keep written demands low, discussion level high.  K-W-L chart filled out with minimum words.


Class participation (GROUP)
Literature Cited
Websites, above


Pamela Blodget, Children's Home of Reading