Linking Students and Water through Technology (TTW) is an environmental education program that trains high school students in the Milwaukee River Watershed to become active decision makers. Through this program, students receive an education in river ecology and responsible citizenship.During the Fall Training Workshop, student representatives from each school learn to collect water quality data and discover how land use practices influence the river. These teams teach their classmates back at school how to perform the nine water quality tests needed to monitor their site twice a year (fall & spring).

Legacy of Innovation

The TTW program was developed in 1989 through a partnership of nine public and private organizations: the Milwaukee Metro Sewerage District, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, UW- Extension, the Department of Natural Resources, the Milwaukee County Extension, and four nature centers: Schlitz Audubon, Wehr, Havenwoods and Riveredge. Educators and resource managers from these organizing agencies serve on the steering committee and provide technical support to the schools throughout the year. TTW is currently funded by MMSD.

Over the past 20 years, this program has trained over 30,000 students from 42 high schools in five counties within Southeastern Wisconsin. Participants have learned how land use in each community has affected the water quality of the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers and their tributaries.

How it Works

Schools participating for the first time in TTW are loaned equipment to perform five water quality tests through the Water Action Volunteers (WAV) program. A $100 deposit check is collected from the school which is held and returned upon completion of the first year of testing.

If the new school signs the TTW commitment letter at the beginning of the next school year, it receives testing equipment to keep as long as they are part of the program.

Along with the Fall Training Workshop, TTW provides the following services for second year schools:

  • Over $600 of water quality testing equipment and support materials (books, videos, etc.) for each participating school.
  • Transportation funding for 2nd year schools to the Fall Training Workshop or to their test site.
  • Field assistance at the school’s test site from TTW personnel to complete the nine water quality tests.
  • The TTW website that links students throughout the watershed to each other and water quality experts. The database contains 19 years of student collected data which can be used to make comparisons and generate discussions.
  • An annual TTW Water Education Stipend that can be used to take a field trip to an approved provider, purchase replacement chemicals or equipment, pay for busing to the test site or training.
  • A list of reviewed Water Education field trip providers.

School Requirements 

In order to participate in TTW schools are asked to commit to the following activities:

  • New teachers are asked to attend the Fall Water Quality Training especially during the first two years of involvement. Existing TTW teachers are encouraged to bring new students to the Fall Training but are not required.
  • Allow students to conduct water quality tests at local test sites at least once a year, within the month of October and/or April. (We strongly recommend that the tests are performed twice a year.)
  • Report at least one set of water quality testing data (including a minimum of 9 test parameters) for each test site per year to be used on the TTW website.
  • Submit the Water Education Stipend Report form and receipts accounting for how the stipend money was spent.
  • Complete the yearly overall evaluation of the TTW program.
  • Provide for the overall care and upkeep of the water quality testing equipment.
  • Return testing equipment when no longer interested in participating in TTW.

Curriculum Standards

“Testing the Waters” has correlated its program to Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards. For a complete listing by section and number, contact Riveredge Nature Center. The hands-on interdisciplinary nature of this program makes it ideal for meeting the needs of educators and students.

 Testing the Waters Steering Committee

  • Riveredge Nature Center –Project Director
  • Wehr Nature Center
  • Havenwoods Awareness Environmental Center
  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Milwaukee County Extension
  • Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
  • Southeastern Regional Planning Commission
  • University of Wisconsin-Extension
  • Menomonee Falls High School
  • Slinger High School
  • University High School

For more information, please contact: 

Mary Holleback, Riveredge Nature Center, 262-375-2715 or

To apply to become a Testing the Waters school, please complete the application link below.

TTW Stipend Application Form

Current Testing the Waters Teachers, check out our new Teacher Resource Hub for access to: 

  • Test Sites Map
  • Data Portal
  • Service Learning Projects
  • Tips and Tricks
  • And, more!