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Each month we spotlight a local nonprofit that's in need of help. It's a way to connect our listeners with charities that make an impact.

Get Involved Spotlight: Austin Youth River Watch

From Austin Youth River Watch, this month's Get Involved spotlight organization:  

Austin Youth River Watch transforms and inspires youth through environmental education, community engagement, and adventure. As a result of our work, youth are better prepared to create positive outcomes for themselves and the environment, ensuring a better future for all.

What We Do

The main programs of Austin Youth River Watch (AYRW) empower underserved high school students through nature-based service-learning activities in environmental science during out-of-school times. AYRW provides a safe place for teenagers to grow and gain confidence while experiencing outdoor adventures and learning to be active stewards of our planet. We are creating the next generation of environmental stewards while developing confident and successful young people.

Our students, the “River Watchers,” learn to collect, analyze, and publish water-quality data from 28 different freshwater sites along Austin-area waterways, in partnership with local agencies. In addition, they perform hands-on restoration projects with community partners that improve the ecological conditions of central Texas watersheds, and learn about many different STEM and environmental careers. Finally, River Watchers experience outdoor adventures throughout the year through activities like overnight campouts, hikes, fishing, and canoe trips. For most of the students, we have been providing them with first-time ever outdoor adventure experiences.

Overall, AYRW programs provide positive, educational experiences where youth develop a deep appreciation for the natural world around them. River Watchers become local environmental heroes, gain leadership and collaborative skills in interdisciplinary settings, and have transformative experiences that they carry on with them for the rest of their lives.

Get Involved

There are many ways to volunteer for Austin Youth River Watch, both in this 2018-2019 academic year, and beyond. Along with regular water quality monitoring, River Watchers work with community partners on several restoration projects and outreach events throughout the year that volunteers can help with. These are things like creek clean-ups, planting native riparian species, mulching, invasive species removal, outreach activities, and building rain gardens. Here’s just a few events coming up this year:

November 3, 2018 – Rain Garden Build and Open House at Hornsby Bend

From 9:00am-12:00pm, you can help the River Watchers build a rain garden and learn more about it. It’ll be a morning of work out in Southeast Austin with our students, and folks from City of Austin Watershed Protection and the Environmental & Water Resources Institute.

From 12:00-3:00pm, join us and others in the community for food/drink, live music from the band Brand New Key, and fun activities out in nature.

For more information, visit our Facebook Event Page or contact us at (512) 708-9115, or

January 20, 2019 – 3M Half Marathon

Austin Youth River Watch was recently named as the beneficiary of the 2019 3M Half Marathon. Are you a runner? You can register and join the Austin Youth River Watch team!

Not a runner? No worries, we’ll still need a lot of help that day staffing an aid station and a finish line tent along with our students, as we cheer on the runners and make sure they stay hydrated with clean, fresh water! For more information, contact us at (512) 708-9115, or

January 21, 2019 – MLK Service Day at Buttermilk Creek & Park

Help us clean up and restore Buttermilk Creek & Park! Each year, River Watchers work with the St. John Neighborhood Association on an MLK Service Day event at Buttermilk Creek & Park. Last year, we picked up about 1,000 pounds of trash, and planted 94 native grass plugs to help prevent further erosion of the creek bank. For more information, contact us at (512) 708-9115, or

Weekly Program Volunteers

During the school year, our ongoing program volunteers accompany one of our student crews once a week, joining them for water quality testing or ecological service projects, and dinner and down time at our River Watch EcoHouse in Hornsby Bend afterwards. Most of our crews include around 10 kids. Time frame is roughly 3:30pm to 7:00pm, Monday - Thursday. You will accompany your student crew one day a week, which will remain the same day throughout your commitment. Experience in content areas (water quality, aquatic life, etc) not required, but an appreciation for them are! For more information, contact us at (512) 708-9115, or

There will be more projects and events this year and beyond! Stay in touch via social media, or contact us and let us know that you’d like to sign up for our email newsletter!

For More Information

Visit our website,

Contact us at (512) 708-9115, or

Follow us on social media:   Facebook     Twitter     YouTube     Instagram

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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