Watershed Education Aboard the R/V Jim Franks

GCRL’s Marine Education Center has provided a meaningful watershed educational experience (MWEE) to teachers and community leaders and their students. Program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program. It enhances watershed awareness and provides an appreciation of their home watershed by comparison with the Pascagoula River Watershed.

All group leaders (K12 teacher, college professors, and community leaders) have participated in a three-day workshop in 2015, 2016, or 2017 that modeled the watershed educational experience they would implement in their classroom. They took their newly acquired watershed literacy and prepared their students for their field experience during the school year.

Three-day workshop

Day 1 - Participants learned watershed literacy content, discovered maps, GPS use and Google Earth, and received training on NOAA’s sea level rise viewer.

Day 2 - Participants were provided a field experience on the Pascagoula River watershed, a rare example of a large U.S. river system with minimal hydrological modifications. The group leaders would participate in the same trip their students would also experience exploring the Pascagoula River aboard the R/V Jim Franks to understand its environmental condition and threats caused by human actions. Specific topics were discussed at four established stations that were visited during each cruse to allow comparison among group data:

  1. Heading out: general background of Pascagoula River and sampling methods
  2. Station 1 -Upstream, near Interstate 10: wetlands and climate change
  3. Station 2 - Mid River: natural change through time along the river
  4. Station 3 – Downstream, industrial area: shoreline development
  5. Station 4 – Estuary, mouth of the Pascagoula River: water quality gradients and estuarine ecology
  6. Headed back to the dock: enter data to the on-line database, review Pascagoula River map and station messages, and stewardship.

Day 3 - Participants enter data collected, compare home watersheds to the Pascagoula River watershed and prepare a brochure to share with students and colleagues.

During the cruise, participants are divided into several teams, each of which address a different data collection objective:


  1. Measure temperature, salinity, clarity, and dissolved oxygen in the surface water of the river with kit.
  2. Measure temperature, salinity, clarity, and dissolved oxygen in the bottom water of the river with kit.
  3. Measure temperate, salinity, and dissolved oxygen in surface and bottom water of the river with probe for comparison to the kit.
  4. Site description.
  5. Take photos of each site in North, South, East, West direction, and record GPS location (latitude and longitude).
  6. Trawl for nekton and identify and enumerate collected organisms at station 4 only.

This web page allows participants to view data their group collected and compare it to data collected by other groups. They may use it to develop their own graphs, make hypotheses, observe changes throughout the year, and draw conclusions on data collected. 

Access data in Microsoft Excel for the following:

Water Quality Data
Site Description Data
Trawl Data

Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consotrium