The Still River, running north from Danbury to New Milford, is the most polluted tributary in the Housatonic watershed. Decades of industrial pollution and neglect have taken their toll on the river, but things are starting to turn around thanks to clean water legislation, dedicated local partners and innovative programs.
Still River Connections offers green jobs training to selected students, giving them a chance to experience working for the environment while they learn about local lands and waters, the threats they face, and how to combat them.
The students start with an overview of the Still River watershed, touring key sites and risk areas, and then get to work removing invasive species, sampling water quality, and planting buffer zones to filter polluted runoff from entering the river.
Along the way, they gain important technical knowledge and skills. GPS wayfinding, mapping, landscape design, plant biology, habitat restoration and even aerial drone surveying techniques are part of the learning.
Best of all, they’re rewarded with a well-deserved stipend for their efforts, emphasizing the future job potential of their newfound skill set.
During the school year, Still River Connections reaches out to area High School science classes, offering teachers and students an opportunity to practice classroom learning “in the field.” Students learn about water chemistry, plants, fish and wildlife, and take part in volunteer projects like invasive species removals and buffer plantings.
The program’s annual “Still River Day” in September brings younger kids (2nd and 3rd graders) by the busload to the Still River Greenway in Danbury, where they learn about their local watershed with fun activities that keep them engaged, “ooh”-ing and “ahh”-ing as they touch bugs and fish, often for the first time.
Funding and support for Still River Connections comes from these amazing partners: