Seattle Public Utilities Ray Hoffman, Director

Seeing the Source Program

Seeing and discovering our mountain fed drinking water supply

This field trip journeys to the heart of the Cedar River Municipal Watershed. For 3.5 hours, Naturalist-led, hands-on activities encourage understanding of water cycles, watersheds, water quality, erosion, cultural history, riparian areas and wildlife. Students See the Source of their mountain fed drinking water supply, and discover the importance of protecting and conserving it for fish and people.

  • Teachers must provide commercially licensed school buses or vans. (Bus subsidies are available for Seattle Public Schools).
  • One 4th or 5th grade class per program; 32 student max, 1-5 adult to child ratio
  • Available to 4th or 5th grade classes in the spring and fall sessions

Programs offered:

  • Spring: Spring: Mid-March to mid-June
  • Fall: Mid-September to mid-November

What to Expect: Agenda and Logistics

Teachers: This is to help you prepare for the field trip. Please do not share these logistics with your students. We strive to provide surprise and delight for students during the field trip.

Seeing the Source Teachers Packets include: What to expect: agenda and logistics, student and teacher checklists, driving directions, word search activity, pre-trip questions sheet.

For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Center Arrival

Bus arrives at Education Center- Arrival times can vary from 9:45 to 10:45 AM depending on the school start time. The program length requires 3+ hours.

Activity One: Center Presentation

Once the bus arrives Naturalists board and provide a welcome and brief introduction. Students then off-load bus for a bathroom break followed by a slide show overview of the Watershed, wildlife, and water system. “Seeing the Source” students are asked to leave their lunches and bags on the bus. 50 minutes.

Travel into Watershed:

Class re-boards the bus and follows pilot car into Watershed while one naturalist accompanies bus, sharing stories and answering questions. 20 minutes.

Activity Two: Chester Morse Lake wildlife walk followed by lunchtime

Arrive at lake shelter for a naturalist led habitat walk and wildlife story, followed by and outdoor lunch at the shelter. We have a pack-it-in, pack-it-out lunch policy. 45 minutes

Travel to Masonry Dam: 10 minutes

Activity Three: Walk across Masonry Dam

This special opportunity allows students walk across the 100 year old Masonry Dam, taking in the watershed views and making the connections between all the uses and values that the Cedar River Watershed provides besides our drinking water. 50 Minutes.

Wrap-up and Goodbye

Class departure: As students re-board the bus, we ask you to please do a head count prior to boarding the bus. Bus follows pilot car and exits Watershed. 15 minutes.