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Ripple effect

Senior Joseph Carroll found his passion in water studies; now he hopes to share it with the next generation.

March 19, 2015

Joseph Carroll teaches water education on a creek bank in Denver
Joseph Carroll teaches water education on a creek bank in Denver's Bluff Lake Nature Center. PHOTO: Courtesy of Bluff Lake Nature Center

Water creates and sustains life. It can also transform lives. Senior Joseph Carroll can vouch for that.

Carroll was in his late 20s when he decided to come to MSU Denver. He was the first in his family to enroll in college, and even as he did, he wasn’t sure exactly where his path would lead.

A raft guide and avid kayaker, he knew he loved the outdoors. He also had a knack for science and had worked as a biology tutor in a local high school. Thinking he would ultimately get an environmental education position, he wound up taking a major in secondary education. But it wasn’t until he came across the One World One Water Center (OWOW) that things really started to click.

He switched his major to land use planning and picked up minors in water studies and education. At the same time, he began volunteering his summers with Earth Force, a nonprofit that takes grade school students into the field for hands-on science education. Carroll taught water education to kids by letting them get their feet wet. Literally. He would bring students to a creek and have them test temperature and pH levels, as well as catch fly maggots and crawfish to start the conversation about species’ habitats.

“When you see a kid’s eyes light up, or when they start to ask those higher-level questions, you realize how engaged they are in that type of learning environment,” he said. “It’s not just a textbook in third period. It is applying things to real life. That is inspiring.”

Those summer experiences cemented Carroll’s direction. He began to really hone in on water studies, getting involved in almost everything the OWOW center had to offer. He participated in the Colorado Water Congress, took advantage of opportunities to meet with professionals in the field and attended water-related internship and job fairs. Through OWOW, Carroll also was able to land a highly coveted internship at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) in the Water Quality Control Division. He spends his time there issuing water permits and educating applicants on sustainable water practices.

Carroll completes his internship in April and his degree in May. There is a good chance he will be asked to continue with the CDPHE, but if not, he feels that his MSU Denver degree and experiences make him a strong candidate for a career in water education. His dream job would be to work at a nonprofit focused on water education for children.

“If you can inspire kids to be water conscious, water wise, that has a ripple effect on the future,” he said. “It has the power to transform the history of our city, state and world.”