September 6, 2006
Arkansas - Can a few people really make a difference in this
huge country? Two moms and four daughters, also known as the Parker
Branch Stream Team, received a prestigious award from President
George W. Bush for doing just that - making a big difference to the
natural resources of The Natural State.
Millie and Madeleine Hogue and their mom, Mavie, along with sisters
Margaux and Isabella Isaksen and mom Katherine West, went east
recently to Washington, D.C. to receive their just desserts. They
represented Arkansas and the Stream Team program by receiving the
2005 Presidentís Environmental Youth Award from the president.
The PEYA is co-sponsored by the Office of the President and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and is given to the youth or youth
group that exemplify true conservation ethic and promotes
environmental awareness of the nationís natural resources.
The group calls northwest Arkansas home and have adopted Parker
Branch, a tributary of the Middle Fork White River near the
community of White House near Elkins in Washington County. The two
eighth graders and two sixth graders took on the challenge of doing
a cross-curriculum project involving the environment. The girls
began by conducting research on Parker Branch, attended community
meetings involving those living in the watershed, and then began to
utilize resources available through agencies such as the Arkansas
Game and Fish Commissionís Stream Team Program.
The program helped train the team on how to sample the water quality
and identify the macroinvertebrates of Parker Branch., according to
assistant fisheries chief Steve Filipek. "Both families took their
stewardship responsibilities seriously and, after some additional
training on physical and biological assessment methods, they applied
for a Stream Team Mini-Grant in order to purchase a water quality
kit and sample Parker Branch and other northwest Arkansas streams on
a regular basis," Filipek said.
The team also nurtured a partnership with state, county and local
officials by conducting litter pick ups on area creeks and helping
to develop stabilization projects for streambanks in their
watershed, Filipek explained. "They encouraged county officials to
develop guidelines for mowing and grading the riparian area and road
adjoining Parker Branch," he added.
Locally, the Stream Team held a one-day educational summer camp for
local youth to learn about how streams function and then, to carry
that information home with them to their families
The team has developed a guide for other stream teams or concerned
groups in the area to get involved with their local streams and
partner with state and local officials to use a team approach to
keep or enhance their streams and watersheds towards a better
condition, Filipek said. "They are working towards a future of a
larger watershed partnership with other landowners in the Parker
Branch watershed and in adjoining watersheds as well. These ladies
are making a big difference in the Parker Branch watershed and in
all of northwest Arkansas as well. They are thinking globally and
acting locally," he stated.