Programs / Outreach and Education



The Outreach & Education program works with schools, summer camps, church groups, and the general public to promote awareness of issues relating to clean water and to foster an appreciation for the wildlife that call the Harpeth home. As part of this program, Harpeth Conservancy staff and volunteers lead groups in exploring the aquatic wildlife in streams and show how to use the findings to determine if the water is clean and the stream ecosystem healthy. Staff are also available for presentations to classrooms, civic group meetings, and other events. If you are affiliated with a group that would be interested in any of these activities, please contact us at


Educational Activities

What's in Your River? 
Macoinvertebrates Activity
Kids collect benthic macroinvertebrates in the Harpeth River and learn how to identify them.
               Kids collect benthic
            macroinvertebrates in
       the Harpeth River and learn
            how to identify them.

The Harpeth River is home to many different animals like fish, turtles, and benthic macroinvertebrates. The riparian zone around the waterway is also the perfect habitat for deer, muskrats, beavers, snakes, and so much more. As part of our education program, the Harpeth Conservancy does educational outreach to teach children about the importance of rivers, river health, and biodiversity. Our educational programs range in technicality from High School class room visits and guided field trips to elementary-level splashing around and experiencing river wildlife.

Our most popular activity seeks to identify and understand the importance of macroinvertebrates. Macroinvertebrate sampling can be used to indicate the water quality of a stream or river. Kids will go to a stream and catch macroinvertebrates using special nets designed to catch insects in the water. They will then identify the different kinds of macroinvertebrates using a provided macroinvertebrate key. The kids will then continue to use our activity guide (click the link below) to determine the water quality based on the type of macroinvertebrates they find. This activity helps teach kids about the animals that can be found in the river and how they can indicate water quality. To view or print Harpeth Conservancy's macroinvertebrate activity packet so you can conduct your own macroinvertebrate lesson click here. For more information on benthic macroinvertebrates or other animals in the Harpeth River watershed click here.


Using EnviroScape, to see how different activities impact water quality.

The EnviroScape is a watershed model and interactive learning tool where students learn about non-point source pollution. It demonstrates the way their activities on land, like littering or not picking up after their dog, can harm the water quality.







Lesson on the Harpeth

On August 12, 2017, Harpeth Conservancy hosted our first Lesson on the Harpeth with the help of Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). During this successful and exciting education event, attendees learned about the Harpeth's ecology and fish species, helped TWRA catch fish, and even saw a Tippecanoe Darter, a very rare species that is deemed in need of management in Tennessee! This event was sponsored by Harpeth River State Park, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Barbara Mapp Foundation, & Harpeth Conservancy. Thank you to our sponsors and Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency's biologists for helping us!





Resources for teachers


Harpeth Conservancy Benthic Macroinvertebrate Activity

The EPA's Planet Protectors: Activities for Kids