Passport To Clean Water

Passport to Clean Water

Passport to Clean Water is an educational program which seeks to engage youth and their families about regional land and water stewardship in the Meramec, Missouri, and Mississippi River watersheds. Approximately 10 organizations from across the St. Louis region come together multiple times every year to offer conservation education for kids aged 6-14 following watershed clean up efforts.

Beginning in 2023, this event will be hosted 3 times annually at Confluence Trash Bash, Operation Clean Stream, and River des Peres Trash Bash. Following each of these watershed cleanup events, our volunteer teams come together for Passport to Clean Water and a free picnic. Examples of past conservation activities include an Environscape demonstration, a water filtration demonstration, and a demonstration of the impacts of trash on wildlife via x-rays. 


Join us for Passport to Clean Water on April 8th from 11:00 AM to 1:00PM at North Riverfront Park as we celebrate volunteer efforts at Confluence Trash Bash! Featured at this event are the St. Louis Aquarium Foundation, Stream Teams United, SLU WATER Institute, and more! RSVP here.

This year, we will also be hosting a pop-up Passport to Clean Water event during the month of October, so check back in for updates on that!

In the meantime, take a look at some conservation activities you can do at home…

Passport To Clean Water: Virtual Challenges 

1. Riparian Zone!

Image sourced from Project Watershed

The Riparian zone is the bit of land that covers the banks of rivers and streams. It is important for the health of the river AND the health of the surrounding area that the riparian zone remains green, full, and healthy.

LEARN MORE about the Riparian zone by watching this video.

Once you get a good idea of what the Riparian Zone is and what it can do, draw a picture of a healthy Riparian Zone and label the important bits!


2. Make Your Own Bird Feeder

Birds are a very important part of natural ecosystems. They help spread seeds, eat pesky bugs, and make the world a prettier (sounding) place to live in. Bring some birds to your front yard with these easy to make bird feeders.

For a more detailed explanation of what birds like to eat and how you should go about feeding them, check out this page on the Missouri Department of Conservation website. There are also a few tips on cleaning and maintaining your beautiful homemade birdfeeder that you may find useful.

Image sourced from MDC

Use one of these methods to make a birdfeeder out of sustainable or recycled materials:

Apple and Peanut Butter Feeder, Plastic Bottle Feeder, Milk Carton Feeder




3. Neighborhood Care

There are a lot of ways to help the environment, but they can be confusing and complicated to get started with. One easy way to get started is by taking care of your own neighborhood! Nobody wants to see trash on their lawn or down their own street.

Litter is a big problem, especially within cities, as there are a lot of people that carelessly throw garbage onto the streets without thinking about where it might go. That same litter can easily be taken by the wind, or by storm-water flow created by rain into our rivers and streams. Think about all of the trash that gets into sewer drains!

Getting just some of that off of the streets is a very good step forward to a cleaner, and healthier St. Louis.

Pick up 5 pieces of litter and get them to the trash or recycling.

4. Watershed Cairns

Recycling doesn’t just need to be taking a piece of plastic and throwing it in a green bin! In fact, it’s often better to repurpose waste into something useful and keep it around. For example, you can use things that are just lying around to make beautiful cairns for a river or stream nearby.

Image sourced from Riverbender.com

Watch this video where Libby Reuter talks about her project Watershed Cairns, and explains not only what they are, but how you can make your own to add character and beauty to your watershed. Once you take a moment to learn about Watershed Cairns, it is time to make your own!



5. River Hike

There are so many streams and rivers around the St. Louis area to check out, in fact, we are positioned

Image sourced from Besthike.com, showcasing the walking/biking trails in Forest Park

right where some of the larger rivers in the country meet (the Mississippi, and the Missouri) and their tributaries riddle the city and its surrounding areas. It’s very important to get to know these rivers and how they affect the ecosystem here. Go check out one of these streams and make sure to note what plants and animals you see around them!


There are plenty of fun parks that have streams and ponds to go to such as Spanish Lake Park, Lower Meramec Park, or even one of the many trails in Forest Park.


6. Water Filtration Experiment

Do you ever wonder what the difference is between the clean water that you drink in your house and the water from the local stream is? Why is only one of them safe to drink, and the other has all sorts of dirt and things in it? By doing this simple water filtering experiment, you can see how clean you can really make river water.

Follow the steps on this document, and see for yourself what goes into filtering water.

Image sourced from PetMD

There are many sources of pollution that contribute to cloudier, less clean water. Some of the major examples that can be found around St. Louis are pesticides that are used to help plants grow, pieces of litter that are picked up by rain that flown into our rivers and streams, and pet waste! It is important to make sure that we are not impacting our watershed negatively, so we need to be careful where we put our trash and even where we let our pets go to the bathroom!

Learn more about these pollutants on the Missouri Sewer Department website, starting with this page on pet waste.

Passport To Clean Water is presented by the Open Space Council in coordination with other environmentally-focused organizations in the St. Louis area.

This material is based upon work supported by AmeriCorps under Grant No. 19VSWMO006. Opinions or points of view expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, AmeriCorps.