Passport To Clean Water

Passport To Clean Water: Virtual Challenges 

poster that reads "passport to clean water, complete eco-friendly challenges at home to win a prize" and shows a scannable QR code for sign-ups

Passport To Clean Water is the Open Space Council’s principal educational program geared towards kids aged 5-18 and their families. The goal is to share educational, interactive activities, discussions, and explorations that explain different aspects of water and land stewardship to future conservationists in and around St. Louis.

Starting in 2022, Passport is moving online. Use this online portal to complete eco-friendly challenges that you can do from home!

Be one of the first 25 participants to complete 4 out of 8 of these environmental challenges and win an Open Space Council summer fun kit. Participating in the event will also enter your name into a lottery to participate in a private naturalist event with David Guthrie of the Missouri Department of Conservation and others selected from the lottery.


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!

Submit your drawing here


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

Submit a photo of your bird feeder here


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.

Submit a photo of your trash collection here


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! Submit a photo of your creation to this website so that we can see what creative ways you reused old materials.

Submit photo here


5. River Hike

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

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

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.

Take a photo of yourself and submit it here!


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.

Submit a photo of your experiment here

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.


7. Operation Clean Stream / Aquarium Events

There are many opportunities to get involved with the water conservation events in the St. Louis area. The Open Space Council is hosting the 55th annual Operation Clean Stream event on August 27th, 2022. Help us clean up the watershed, get a free t-shirt, and do something awesome for your local community! OR help out at aquarium events taking place in the month of August. There are other great organizations hosting events during the month of August as well, you can also check out this Stream Stomp through the Missouri Department of Conservation.

A trio of hardworking Operation Clean Streamers in the Lower Meramec, from our OCS 2020 event

To find out more about these awesome programs, be sure to follow environmental organizations on social media or check your local community centers for posters and events.

Submit photo here!


8. Show us

Single use plastics are a big part of everyday life. Whether it is the water bottles that you take to soccer practice, or the plastic bags that your lunch is packed in, there are ways to find single use plastics being used every single day.

This means that there are many ways you can make a change in your life to reduce the trash that you put out into the world. Chances are, there are some noticeable changes you or your family have made already!

Let us know one behavior that you have changed in order to reduce your use or single use plastics. Using a refillable water bottle or reusable bags are some great examples that you may have done.

Submit here

We hope you enjoyed participating in Passport to Clean Water! Make sure to upload all your pictures to their respective links so we can see your amazing work.

Please fill out one last form for us to have feedback so we can continue to create accessible programs like this. 

Remember that each one of us, no matter your age, can make a difference in bettering our environment. Thank YOU for all that you do!

Passport To Clean Water is presented by the Open Space Council in coordination with our partners, The St. Louis Aquarium Foundation as well as 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.