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Local Student Watershed Assessment Teams

In partnership with the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, JSWCD helps sponsor the Student Watershed Assessment Teams, or SWAT. The SWAT program brings high school students out to sites throughout Jackson County to do environmental monitoring at sites that might not otherwise be visited. Students both learn the process and scientific rigor of field data collection, while producing useful data for organizations and project managers. 

This sort of long-term site monitoring and data collection is a critical, often overlooked, piece of most watershed level restoration projects. Often without proof of progress or impact, it is difficult for organizations to maintain and secure funding for future projects. SWAT fills this hole, while preparing the next generation of natural resource managers for real-world job duties.

SWAT is a full year course for students involving 6-8 full field days, associated site visit journal entries, relevant homework and an end of the year group presentation made to JSWCD and at times, various symposiums.

What types of sites do students monitor?

Students measuring tree height
SWAT students take a tree height measurement using a clinometer.

Students are trained and prepared to go to a variety of sites, rain, snow or shine.  They have collected field data which can include:

  •  Photo points- digital cameras, ipads, compasses, metric field tapes
  • Canopy cover-spherical densitometer, compass, calculations of percent
  • Vegetation transects- use of transects, use of quadrates, estimation of cover, recognition of common riparian plant species (native and non-native).
  • Stream profiles- stadia rods, waders, compass
  • Macroinvertebrate sampling for water quality
  • Water quality sampling- (dissolved O2, pH, turbidity, temperature)
  • Tree diameter at breast height, live crown ratio and height – DBH tape, clinometer
  • Fuels transects – Browns transects
  • Tree age – Increment borer

How are sites selected?

The SWAT Coordinator works with nonprofits, educational institutions, and government organizations to identify areas needing monitoring data.  In the past, SWAT has partnered with:

  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Freshwater Trust
  • Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • OSU Extension
  • Rogue Valley Council of Governments
  • Lomakatsi
  • Nature’s Notebook
  • Rogue River Watershed Council

What schools are involved?

Currently the SWAT program is being run through Logos Charter School. SWAT has also worked with Butte Falls High School and Medford Central High School in the past.

The SWAT Coordinator works with motivated teachers within these high schools to advertise the program to students, develop the syllabus, gather equipment and plan educational requirements for students.

Who do I contact for more information?

Whether you are a high school teacher interested in developed a SWAT program at your school, or an organization that does environmental restoration work and would like to partner as a monitoring site for our students, you should contact the SWAT coordinator, Kara Baylog, at or 541-776-7371.