OUR VISION: in thirty years, a stream without a buffer will look as out of place as a smoker in a conference room does today. 


To foster that vision, our environmental education programs focus on students first and, through them, the larger community.  We are:


Using Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds (PHLOW) to teach students that hands-on conservation of local watersheds can provide significant environmental benefits for the Chesapeake Bay watershed. PHLOW has three main sub-programs: Grow-a-Garden, Growing Native, and Plant-a-Tree. Throughout these programs the distinct PHLOW model educates students with background knowledge that leads to academically rich and environmentally meaningful hands-on conservation projects at their school.


Continuing to Develop our Potomac Highlands Watershed School to build a community of learners and problem solvers among students, teachers, volunteers, and experts throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed that is open to anyone, anywhere, free of charge, year-round;


Using the Potomac Highlands Watershed School, PHLOW, Stream Scholars Summer Camp, and other CI programs to make critical thinking about environmental problem solving systemic and relevant both in schools and children's lives;

bulletWorking to support the NOAA B-WET goal of "Making it a MWEE."  MWEE (Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience) is a form of Project Based Learning, where students study a complex watershed problem through a collaborative investigative or experimental process over an extended period of time.  When eSchool activities are coupled with hands-on conservation or research projects they provide a MWEE.
Make it a MWEE!
bulletWorking to support the NOAA B-WET goal of encouraging "the development of partnerships among environmental education programs throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed”;

Encouraging community-based conservation organizations to "Making it a MWEE", to use CI's eForums, other eSchool activities, and other CI Programs as tools to engage their local schools in substantive curriculum based programs as well as hands-on programs to help strengthen their organizations, become better educated themselves, recruiting a new generation of members, and increasing their visibility and effectiveness.  Cacapon Institute has, or can help find, technical and financial resources to support such activities throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed.


Our education programs are helping to foster a generation of youth connected with their communities and prepared to be informed, active citizens and leaders for improved water quality, sustainable habitats and living resources, and improved local watersheds. 



Our 12th Annual Stream Scholars Summer Camp ran from July 21 to July 25, 2014.  Take a look at previous camps.  
Stream Scholars Summer Camp 2014 Stream Scholars Summer Camp

Stream Scholars 2014 is made possible by a grant from The Outdoor Foundation, Outdoor Industry Association Paddle Advisory Council (PAC), Emerald Expositions, National Park Service and generous support from Cacapon Institute’s members and the Potomac Valley Conservation District.




Up ] Stream Scholars Summer Camp 2010 ] Stream Scholars Summer Camp 2009 ] Stream Scholars Summer Camp 2008 ] Stream_Scholars_2007 ] Stream_Scholars_2006 ] Stream Scholars 2005 ] Stream Scholars 2004 ] Stream Scholars 2003 ] Bye Bye Causeway ] "Keep Well" Water Testing ] Science & Society ] Corridor H ] Watershed Stewardship Fairs ] Beavers and Our Landscape ] Summer Camps 2003 ] Understanding_Pollution ] PHLOW ]

Below is an overview of our Education and Community Outreach  activities.


Potomac Highlands Watershed eSchoolThe Potomac Highlands Watershed School was created to increase understanding of important water quality and watershed issues in West Virginia's Potomac Highlands - and, by extension, much of Appalachia.  The watershed school has lessons about watersheds, water pollution, and land-use planning.  Regional issues underlie each lesson, and many are as relevant for adults as school children.  For example, the pollution curriculum is based on West Virginia's efforts to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.  To learn more about the school, click here.  Go to the school here.  Hint: a fast connection helps. Another hint: click on objects and words to get "behind" the picture.

Watts Branch in Washington DC is the fifth stream simulated in a Virtual Stream Sampler, the eSchool's realistic simulations of volunteer stream assessments with water quality measurements, habitat assessments, and benthic macroinvertebrate collections.  Watts Branch flows from Maryland through the east side of Washington, DC on its way to the Anacostia River.  This virtual stream will be used to educated inner city youth about stream and watershed health.


Just click on the BMI Poster in any classroom to enter the Benthic Portal, then click on the Virtual Stream Sampler icon.  This activity completes the suite of eSchool lessons on stream sampling and benthic macroinvertebrates. 

*     The Potomac Highlands Watershed School took first place in the North American Adobe/Tech Soup design contest for non-profits in the “Environmental Impact: Other Media” categoryAdobe, as part of its corporate social responsibility commitment, provides products and training to non profit organizations to address critical issues in our communities.  Adobe sponsored the contest to learn about the impact their software recipients are making through words, images, and design.  Our internet based eSchool that owes its appearance and much of its personality to Adobe’s products.  In their award letter, they wrote:  

Congratulations! Your project has been selected as a winner in the Adobe Show Your Impact contest! We were truly moved and inspired by the excellent work that you are doing and the positive impact that you are having on the community you serve.”


Stream Scholars Summer Camp ... Through the Years 

Stream Scholars is CI's hands-on exploration of stream ecology and conservation for middle and high school students. This program was initially funded by the USEPA, and later by the MARPAT Foundation, WV Conservation Agency, and our members.  We now have twelve years of engaging West Virginia middle and high school students in week long explorations of stream science.

Stream Scholars Summer Camp history: 2003  2004  2005   2006  2007  2008  2009 

2010  2011  2012 2013  2014

The side of stream scholars you usually see.
Rebekah lays out her study plan. John and Justin catching bugs.


 Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds (PHLOW) 

The Institute has long had a presence in the schools in the watersheds where we work. We have staff whose primary job is to establish and maintain classroom and hands on programs to engage the interest and continuing participation of substantial numbers of students. We believe that, in the very long run, helping today's children to become stakeholders in the river and the watershed may be the most important thing we can do.

Program activities range from half-day events for an entire grade-level, to 45-minute interactive discussions for a single class. They are tailored to suit the needs ofPeter presenting watershed concepts (click to enlarge photo) students.  We schedule activities on a first-come-first served basis subject to the availability of funds, but usually there is no cost to the schools or students - thanks to grants from The MARPAT Foundation, the Spring Creek Foundation, the USEPA Environmental Education Grants program, and donations from the membership of Cacapon Institute.  A partial list of activities available includes:


Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds 2013 Report  (PDF, 1 mb)– PHLOW schoolyard conservation and education achievements


Potomac Headwaters Leaders of Watersheds 2012 Report  (PDF, 1 mb)– PHLOW schoolyard conservation and education achievements


Watershed Stewardship Fairs. During this three-hour activity, students rotate between concurrent mini-demonstrations given by local natural resource professionals.  Total group size can range from 30 to 100 students.  After the demonstrations, students participate in a panel discussion with the presenters. Best at the middle school level.


Keep Well Water Study.  This two-session activity takes place over three days.  The students learn how to test for bacteria in their drinking water, conduct the test, and then analyze and discuss the results. Best for high school students.  


Around the Bend Students analyze mock water quality samples to deduce the condition of a river, and the likely human activities occurring “around the bend.  ” Best for 9th through 12th grade.  


How Watersheds Work Uses a question-driven approach, and simple drawings to illustrate how water flows through a watershed, and how what people do within a watershed can promote or harm watershed functioning.  Can be tailored to suit almost any grade level.



Stream in an Envelope Water Quality Exercise.  Students identify and tally amazing stream "critters" and then calculate a stream score using a standardized protocol.  This leads to a discussion of factors affecting stream quality, watershed services and conservation, and the shared nature of water resources. Great for middle school students.


Drawing Scientific Conclusions.   Students analyze and graph locally-generated quantitative data on drinking water quality.  A good way to learn about using scientific data, and how water relates to human health. Best for high school students.


 Making Science Real Summer Camp 2004.  Campers used an inquiry-driven approach to exploring and understanding elements of the natural landscape - with hands-on, project-based activities to make science understandable.  This program was offered in cooperation with Hardy County Schools.


Making Science Real Summer Camp 2003.  Campers used an inquiry-driven approach to exploring and understanding elements of the natural landscape - with hands-on, project-based activities to make science understandable.  This program was offered in cooperation with Hardy County Schools.

To learn more, read our  CI Educational Enrichment Program Flyer (in PDF format).

Back to top

Community outreach

In the watersheds in which we work, our staff makes frequent presentations to community organizations such as the Ruritan Clubs, the Friends of the Cacapon and other groups and events like Hampshire Heritage Days. We try to encourage agricultural conservation techniques which also are  good farming practices. And the Cacapon Institute Newsletter goes to approximately 1,000 homes and offices two to four times a year.

Issues concerning our watershed:

 Lost River causeway removed.

 Beavers and Our Landscape.

Corridor H and the Cacapon River - pictures and erosion control issues.

Cacapon Institute recently initiated a series of papers with the goal of seeking a more definitive understanding of water quality issues in the Potomac watershed.  Click here to learn more.

Back to top

Scientific world at large

Our education effort has two focuses; within the watersheds in which we work and out to the wider scientific world. Our current director, Neil Gillies and our founder, George Constantz have made presentations to government agencies and at a number of scientific conferences.  Similarly, our publications reach a broad range of people and organizations. We still receive requests for "Portrait of a River" and the monitoring data which has been amassed since its original publication. 


Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Cacapon Institute
PO Box 68
High View, WV 26808
304-856-1385 (tele)
304-856-1386 (fax)
Click here to send us an email
Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

Website  made possible by funding from The Norcross Wildlife Foundation,  the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental Endowment, NOAA-BWET, USEPA, The MARPAT Foundation, and our generous members.