In the northeast Georgia foothills, there is an abundance of creeks, streams and rivers. One community problem concerns the quality of the water found in the local creek, Eastanolle Creek, which has been plagued with a pollution problem for many years. While some attempts have been made to correct the problem, none have provided a long-range solution.
In November of 1996, 18 seventh grade students began to investigate various community problems as part of a class project. After much research and discussion, the students chose to work on a solution to the pollution problem at Eastanolle Creek through the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream Program. This program allowed the students to be involved in clean-up efforts while educating the community through public service announcements.
The students also decided to name themselves. Around their school, they are known as "The CREEK (Challenged to Recreate an Endangered Environmental Keepsake) Kids". The group's mission is to develop and maintain a water monitoring program and to educate the public about the value of wildlife, clean water and the protection of the Eastanolle Creek watershed.
After completing research, the students found the pollution problem could be attributed to the local municipality's wastewater treatment plant. To effectively work through the political issues, The CREEK Kids enlisted the city as a partner. In addition, The CREEK Kids project mobilized quite a few community partners. Each community partner has helped the group immensely by lending their own individual expertise. Among this elite group are: The Stephens County Soil and Water Conservation District, The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Program, local and regional newspaper and television, The University of Georgia's Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department and the Stephens County Public School System.
The group has received more than $40,000 in grant monies to fund their efforts. With this money they have purchased equipment needed to conduct chemical water analysis and biological testing as part of the club's monthly water monitoring program. In addition, through speaking engagements and presentations to various community organizations, these service-learning students have educated the public concerning water pollution.