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CE 493: Civic Engagement . Partner: Friends of Decker’s Creek . By: Keri Wilson . Introduction:. Reasons for taking the course: -Wanted to gain valuable firsthand experience working with a local community organization

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ce 493 civic engagement

CE 493: Civic Engagement

Partner: Friends of Decker’s Creek

By: Keri Wilson


Reasons for taking the course:

-Wanted to gain valuable firsthand experience working with a local community organization

-I wanted to volunteer my time to a business while gaining valuable insight into a possible career path.


I chose to work with Friends of Decker’s Creek for my project because I am a Geology major aiming for a career in the environmental sector.

I wanted to learn about how grassroots organizations are created and how they assist communities.

description of intended project
Description of intended project :

-Perform Water Quality Monitoring

-Assisting in Community outreach

-Help Organize and Complete a major community event

-Assist the Organization in with Office tasks such as mailings

my agency
My Agency
  • Friends of Decker’s Creek is a small non-profit organization located in Morgantown, West Virginia. The focus of the organization is on the quality of water in the Decker’s Creek Watershed.
  • The agency aims at increasing the quality of water in the creek so that the community can use the water for recreation and municipal purposes. They also strive to increase public awareness of the state of the creek.
  • They watershed is negatively affected by abandoned mines, commercial and industrial facilities, as well as solid waste being dumped into the creek. The organization wants to restore the watershed to the point where it is safe to swim in and can sustain an aquatic habitat.
  • The FODC was started in 1995 by a group of outdoor enthusiasts. They organized trash cleanups and water quality monitoring along the creek.
  • In 1998, they began receiving grant money from the DEP and NRCS to restore the watershed. Starting in the year 2000, they became an official nonprofit organization. There first membership drive was in 2001.
friends of decker s creek
Friends of Decker’s Creek
  • The mission of FODC is to improve the natural qualities of, increase public concern for, and promote the enjoyment of the Deckers Creek Watershed.
  • The FODC improves the natural qualities of the water through trash cleanups and water quality monitoring. They search for sources of acid mine drainage in order to formulate projects to alleviate acidity in the stream.
  • They work towards increasing public concern by getting involved with local government and business owners. They started the Clean Creek Program in 2002, which pairs local businesses to sites along the creek. There funding for these sites helps to monitor the quality of creek in these specific areas.
  • The organization works towards promoting recreation along the creek. The Decker’s creek adventure day is an annual event hosted by the organization. It takes place along the creek and promotes enjoyment of the trail and the watershed.
the connection
The Connection

Educational Benefits:

  • Working with FODC, I was able to study mineral content, pH, dissolved oxygen, sediment and aquatic life in order to assess water quality.

Community Benefits:

  • I was able to impact the community by tabling and encouraging involvement with FODC at the Mountainlair and other local events
hands on experience
Hands on Experience


  • I set up a booth at the farmers market on a Saturday morning. The purpose of the booth was to try and encourage people to sign up teams for the FODC adventure race as well as donate money to become an official Friend of Decker’s Creek

Adventure Day

  • FODC adventure day is a adventure race and festival that will take place along Decker’s and the Mon river rail trail system. I got the opportunity to help coordinate volunteers, assist with tabling and recruiting teams for the event, as well as monitor the event event on the trail and communicate with racers during the event


  • Water quality sampling involved traveling to different sites along Decker’s creek to assist in taking measurement and recording data. The sites can be easily accessed from the trail or in some cases are rather remote.
impacts and lessons learned
Impacts and Lessons Learned
  • Volunteering had an impact on my academic growth because it gave me first hand experience reaching out to local community members. I was attempting to reach out to an audience that might not necessarily care about the efforts of FODC.
  • The tabling experience was hard for me because it required me to take that initial step in grabbing people’s attention.
  • It helped me develop the ability to convince the community why they should be concerned personally about the organization and its cause
academic enhancement
Academic Enhancement
  • Service learning will also assist me academically in my geochemistry class.
  • I used my experience and the knowledge I have gained from water quality monitoring to develop a group project that is required for the class.
  • It helped me to gain a better understanding of the factors that affect the pH, color, and percentage of dissolved oxygen in the water.
  • This helped my overall understanding of water chemistry and help me to succeed in the course.
scholarly articles
Scholarly Articles
  • In the article, “How Service Learning Affects Students”, the authors discussed the ways that service learning adds to the character and academic experience of an undergraduate student post graduation.
  • They implemented a national study on how a service learning project can help a student develop a better perception, appreciation, and understanding of the service industry, as well as develop better academic skills.
  • By taking part in a service learning project this semester I hoped that I could increase my skills and character in a variety of ways.
my academic courses
My Academic Courses:
  • My geochemistry class is closely to my service project. We have focused on mainly on carbonate water chemistry. At the beginning of the semester we got the chance to take a field trip to Masontown, WV in order to take water samples. The purpose of the fieldtrip was to study the water quality in a select portion of the Decker’s Creek Watershed. We stopped at several locations in our study area to collect samples and evaluate the quality of the water. We used monitoring equipment to assess the geochemistry of the water, taking note of factors such as: temperature, pH, electrical conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and oxidation-reduction potential. We also noted changes in the geomorphology of the stream, such as: hydraulic gradient, bedrock formations, the locations of geologic contacts, the presence, size and shape of loose material, and the overall shape of the creek bed. Additionally, we identified tributaries and possible sources of acid mine drainage to the stream.
  • In my geophysics course we took a fieldtrip to an area located on route 7 which follows Decker’s creek. We did a geophysical survey on an old dump site owned by Greer limestone. The purpose of the survey was to use electrical conductivity methods to determine what was located in the shallow subsurface. Certain contaminants located in ground water cause higher conductivity values which can be recognized in the survey. There were several old settling ponds on the property which had previously been treating surface runoff with limestone to decrease the acidity.
  • The service learning experience has helped me to develop a greater understanding of water chemistry.
  • It has also helped me to better understand how a non-profit organization is run.
  • The service learning project with the FODC has definitely created a learning environment different from any I have ever experienced.
  • The involvement within the community is probably the most exciting aspect of the project. Working at the Decker’s Creek Adventure Race made me realize how important it is for a community to be able to enjoy natural features for recreational purposes.
  • I got to witness firsthand enjoyment of the community members while they were interacting with the trail, the creek, and other racers.
  • For me, the goal of the organization feels full of purpose and optimistic when the community is helping the cause.
  • I will most definitely use the experiences from my project in the future.
  • I have gained first hand experience with water quality monitoring and would feel very confident in grad school to focus on monitoring of a stream negatively affected by AMD.
  • I also feel more confident about educating the community about stream restoration and the effects of AMD.
  • I just applied for an Americorp position as a watershed development coordinator. The job involves educating and encouraging community members to get involved in conservation.
  • I feel that my service with the FODC has given me good prep for a job in community outreach.