Project WILD Educator Workshop

At the one-day workshops, participants receive a set of supplementary activity guides which includes a basic guide and an aquatic activity guide. The Project WILD materials have been classroom tested and provide a framework to assist teachers in taking students from an awareness of the nature to responsible actions concerning the environment.

This award-winning program provides a means for educators to teach important environmental and conservation concepts. Over 19,000 Georgia teachers have attended WILD workshops to investigate the teaching strategies of Project WILD, to experience exciting hands-on activities, and to learn more about wildlife and the environment.

$32 registration fee includes Project WILD & Aquatic WILD Guidebooks
BYO Lunch, water and something to take notes with.
Agenda and final details will be shared closer to the date.

Meet Mel

Mel is the education and outreach coordinator for ORK, which means she is often found in classrooms, at outdoor events, or in the creek leading a cleanup. She works to make sure the public has access to the resources ORK has to offer and to make sure citizens have plenty of chances to interact with ORK’s many facets.

Birds and Bins cleanup

She works with volunteers who help with the Adopt-A-Stream program and with cleanups, coordinates efforts with municipalities and partner organizations, and shares educational tools with educators and the public.

No two days are ever the same in this work.  “I find what people have in common when it comes to environmental things, specifically related to water, and bring them together,” Mel says. “One day I might be doing data analysis, another I might be in the river doing cleanups, the next I might be planning social events for our members.”

Mel’s background and education is just as varied as the many aspects of water quality work. She received her bachelor’s degree from UGA in anthropology and archaeology, going on to do field work in Belize.  She worked on Maya ruins, unearthing communities and finding artifacts. 

Digging in Belize

For a time, Mel was based out of the West Coast between the Redwoods of California to Orcas Island, Washington, where she did a mixture of work with local food movements, archaeology research and a YMCA summer camp. 

Mel at a Project WET training

“It was a new environment, filled with natural beauty and unique opportunities,” Mel recalls. “I got to use my archaeology degree to do field work for several different projects and I had a chance to do environmental education in a different part of the world.”

She returned to Georgia and earned her master’s degree in social sciences with a focus in environmental anthropology.

“This job is a perfect combination of my various skills and educational background,” Mel says of Ogeechee Riverkeeper. “And I think people would be surprised just how much my anthropology and archaeology degrees truly relate to this job.” 

She also underlines the importance of digging in and learning from all your experiences. “Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and take positions that may not directly apply to your degree – you never know where it will take you and what connections you’ll make along the way.”

At Rock Eagle 4-H Center

Mel has found plenty in ORK’s watershed to inspire her – both in good and bad aways. The ecological variety is astounding and it’s amazing “how much cool wildlife you can find when you spend time observing.” She’s also discovered that river landings are considered party venues for many, and while she understands the draw to be in a beautiful setting, the disrespect displayed by what is left behind only makes her more determined to protect our waterways through education and volunteerism. 

What is your idea of happiness?

  • A sunset with a warm breeze & sounds of plants moving in the wind. And an endless supply of fresh mangoes. 

Who are your favorite painters and composers?

  • Too many painters….I was an art history minor so I won’t bore y’all with the list of names. Too many composers but definitely Paul McCartney is at the top of the list. 

What is your favorite bird?

  • 3 Way Tie: Mississippi Kite, Kingfisher and Turkey Vulture

What is your most treasured possession?

  • Harry Potter books. Just kidding. Maybe.

What is the dumbest way you’ve been hurt?

  • Fell down the stairs in high school on my birthday and sprained my ankle which ruined soccer season for me. 

What’s the best type of cheese for you?

  • Cabot Extra Sharp – or any cheese, really.

What’s the worst color that was ever invented?

  • Magenta Pink that is not a part of nature (flowers, the sky, etc.)

Which talent would you most like to have?

  • Musical talent

What takes a lot of time but is totally worth it?

  • Vacuuming & organizing

What topic could you give a 20-minute presentation on without any preparation?

  • Local food movements

What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?

  • The after effects of the 2009 tsunami in Japan off the California coast.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

  • “At the end of the day…”; “Dude”

What is your motto?

  • Do yoga. 

Fellowship Outreach

April and May were very eventful months for my fellowship. In April, I hosted an educational program for a class of young prospective STEM students at William James Middle School. I created a water trivia quiz for the students and they all exceeded my expectations. A lot of students were interested in getting themselves and their families signed up for volunteering which was great to hear.

I also got the chance to volunteer for the Canoochee Paddle Race. This is an event Ogeechee Riverkeeper has brought back to Evans County, Georgia. The race was successful, despite the low water levels in some areas. The feedback from the event was positive. ORK is already working on next year and hopes to see the number of participants grow. Congratulations again to all the winners!

A third event I assisted in was the career day at Nevils Elementary School. I spoke about different projects ORK works on, as well as my own research and university studies. The children we met were so attentive and considerate. They all made sure to correct each other on littering and hold each other accountable. The students were also very curious and asked a lot of great questions. I even had a student give me a hug and tell me, “Thank you.” Another student told his teacher he wanted to be a riverkeeper when he grows up.

I have also been continually participating in the Don’t Litter Lotts cleanups in Statesboro, Georgia. This project has been increased to cleanups twice a month because the amount of litter in the creek has unfortunately also increased. As the summer months come, we will need some more volunteers as many students head home for the summer or are busy with jobs.  Check out the cleanups and sign up!

Amphibian Activity

Fort Stewart Army Base is home to the only remaining documented colony of frosted flatwoods salamanders in Georgia; The only other two groupings of the black-bodied amphibians with mottled bands of silvery white anywhere else on Earth are in Florida, although they once inhabited thousands of wetlands along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico. (, March 6, 2021)

Listen to the story

Research everything you can find on the frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum). What does it look like? Use specific adjectives to describe it so that you can identify it if you’re lucky enough to see it in the wild.

What kind of habitat does it need? Does it live near you? What does it eat? What are its life stages? 

Vocabulary: Define these terms while doing your research:

  • Amphibian
  • Reptile
  • Cutaneous Respiration
  • Ectothermic
  • Endangered Status
  • Threatened Status
  • Deforestation

Once you have enough information, go into your backyard or neighborhood and see if the conditions are right for the frosted flatwoods salamander.

This species is unique in Georgia to the Ogeechee River basin and listed as federally threatened conservation status. Why is it threatened? What can we do to protect it?

Submit your ideas and ORK will share with the biologists at Fort Stewart.

Activity is open to all ages and meets the needs or can be combined with other activities for the following Georgia Standards of Excellence: Science

  • S3L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the similarities and differences between plants, animals, and habitats found within geographic regions (Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plains, Valley and Ridge, and Appalachian Plateau) of Georgia.
  • S3L2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the effects of pollution (air, land, and water) and humans on the environment.
  • S4L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the roles of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem.
  • S4E3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to demonstrate the water cycle.
  • S5L1. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to group organisms using scientific classification procedures.
  • S6E3. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to recognize the significant role of water in Earth processes.
  • S7L4. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information to examine the interdependence of organisms with one another and their environments.