In service-learning at its best, students research community needs and resources, then plan their own projects. Yet students need help knowing how. Cairn & Associates developed several publications to help students learn how.

How to Use this Page to Plan Your Own Project

  • Option 1 - Move through this page at your own pace, following instructions and links as you go. (You do not have to follow the given order.)
  • Option 2 - Download Give Water a Hand, then follow its step-by-step planning process.

Step 1. Identify Your Watershed and Its Resources
Find out what watershed you are in and the local agency responsible for it at What Watershed Are You In?

Step 2. Inform Yourself
Learn basics the about water quality with Watershed Action Background Information.

Step 3. Research Community Needs
Use a site survey to investigate needs in your watershed. Go out and look around. Also ask homeowners, custodians, scientists, and water quality managers for information. Download one or both surveys and instructions:

Step 4. Make a Site Map
Go outside and look around at your school or other project site. Map water flow and possible pollution sources. Get instructions at Give Water a Hand (page 6), Research Needs.

Step 5. Project Ideas
For examples of possible projects, browse the list of Service-Learning Projects.

Step 6. Plan
Download and/or print this form to make sure your plans are complete. Develop a time line. Assign jobs. Identify partners with the Water Quality Action Plan.
For restoration and planting projects, download a Habitat Action Planning Form in Word or as a pdf.
Step 7. Connect with Organizations
Projects become stronger with expert help and advice. Get help identifying needs and picking a project. Also ask for data, maps, equipment, speakers, publications, and even funding. Find possible partners at the Watershed Action Organizations page.
Step 8. Measure Your Progress
Download and/or print the Project Evaluation Form to help make sure you meet your goals.

Download Give Water a Hand
Activities workbook helps students, teachers, and youth group leaders to research, plan, and organize water quality projects. Includes:

  • Field surveys and instructions to research home, farm, school, and community.
  • Detailed instructions to identify watershed boundaries using topographic maps.
  • Ideas and tips for working with expert community partners.
  • Planning form.
  • Evaluation form.
  • Ideas and tips for supporting student-led planning. (Leader Guide)
  • Bank of activities to build students' organizing skills. (Leader Guide)

Download free from University of Wisconsin, Give Water a Hand Youth Action Guide (72 pages) and adult Leader Guide (40 pages). Or call (800) WATER20.

Cairn & Associates wrote Give Water a Hand with a national team of water educators. Published by the National 4-H Council.

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