Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Roaming Classroom

During my time as a River Steward, I feel like I have spent most of it with the River Mobile. It has become my job (literally). Rain or shine (mostly rain) I am outside setting up the River Mobile at many different events or schools. Though this may seem like just a job about manual labor, it is actually much more than that to me.

Through setting up and tearing down the River Mobile at our last school in Greenville, I was able to sit in and hear our Graduate Assistant, Andrew, give a tour of the River Mobile to the teachers at the school. It was during his explanation of the River Mobile that I understood how much of an impact this semi-truck has on students. The River Mobile is an incredible teaching tool and it allows kids (and even adults!) to understand our Rivers and watersheds. Through the interactive technology inside and the useful Maps outside, kids are able to learn outside of their typical classrooms in a fun way. I realized on this trip, how much teachers enjoy the River Mobile. When we were leaving, a teacher at the school could not thank us enough for setting up the River Mobile all the way in Greenville. Seeing the excitement on her face about her students learning from our River Mobile really put my job in a whole new perspective.
It isn't just about adding staircases, maps, and railings for me. My job is helping to enable students to learn and grow from this traveling “classroom”. This traveling classroom has become one of my favorite parts of River Stewards, and I encourage everyone, regardless of age to experience a tour at least once. You’d be surprised at how much you learn!

Rainy River Love,

2016 Cohort

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rollin' on River

Just a lil river song comin' atcha from Dennis Wilson. Keepin' it real. Keepin' it chill. Rollin' on, rollin' on. 

Happy Wednesday, folks! 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Water Treatment Plant

On a bleak and rainy Halloween the 2017 Cohort kept up their usual pep as they toured Dayton’s Water Treatment Plant.

I would just like to give a quick overview of where the city of Dayton’s water comes from and how it is treated at the plant. Water comes into the facility from various well fields, including the Mad River well fields. These well fields pump water into one of two water treatment stations, the Ottawa plant or the Miami plant. While each plant has a capacity of 96 million gallons a day, each only operates at around 20-25 million gallons. In this way, if something were to happen to one of the plants, the other could sufficiently take on all of the city of Dayton’s water needs. The water is first treated with lime, and the Miami plant is special because it has a lime recalcification process to reclaim used lime. The plant is also able to take used lime from other facilities and make it usable again, selling it back to other municipalities. The water is then treated with chlorine gas that is brought in by trucks. In this last sequence the water is also treated with fluorine and sand filtration/

On our tour we first saw the control room, which has various computer monitors to supervise the exterior and interior of the plant. These screens also displayed information from well fields throughout the Dayton area and information about the rate of water flow in various parts of the plant. I thought it was very interesting to see the Miami plant was taking in 17 million gallons of water, but only pumping out 11 million gallons at the time of our tour. The treated water needs time to mix with the chemicals, accounting for this difference. We then saw the lab, which to my surprise, looked exactly like a chemistry lab at UD. From there, we saw holding tanks that let settlement filter down, and giant tanks that hold treated water. The water is stored under pressure, so if there were a leak, water would spew out instead of letting contaminates seep in. We got to see the old pumps which are no longer used, but could be used in an emergency. We concluded our tour at the giant mosaic, coming full circle and following the water’s path through the facility.

The mosaic represents the path of drinking water from the buried aquifer to the water treatment plants to the homes of Dayton.

It was a Happy Halloween for the Baby Stews, as they trickled their way through the Water Treatment Facility.

Brandi Gerschutz
2017 Cohort 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

MOX 2014

During the weekend of October 3rd , Dayton's very own Five River MetroParks hosted one of the largest outdoor gear and experience festivals in the region. The Midwest Outdoor Experience is a two day one stop event for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers alike. MOX creates an event where outdoor related companies such as REI, Field & Stream, and even Subaru come out to showcase new gear and encourage outdoor engagement. These great companies are further complimented by the mecca of fantastic food vendors, the great hub of bands, and all the hands on activities that are offered by sponsors and Fiver River Metro Parks.

I found myself starting off this event on Friday evening at the Rivermobile. During this evening, fellow River Stewards and myself were able to engage locals and educate them about the wonderful water resources this area has to offer. Perhaps even more interesting were the conversations held with out-of-towners. They equipped themselves, by learning about Dayton’s watershed, with questions and ideas to bring back to their own home areas. Soon night came, and I left to go rest for the next day.

Waking up Saturday was quite a shock. The wind was blowing, the clouds were filling the sky, and the thermometer was at a whopping 42 degrees Fahrenheit. My mindset was discouraged due to the weather; especially since I was suppose to be volunteering in a Kayak for the better part of the day. Needless to say that changed as soon as I got out on the water. Being able to paddle with fellow enthusiasts and introduce newcomers to the activity was 100% worth the cold. Sharing stories and giving advice on how to paddle seemed to push away the bite of the wind, and usher in the warmth of new friendships.

That evening when I reflected on the previous two days, good memories and the faces of new friends filled my mind. It was truly a joy to share a weekend with the outdoor community both as a River Steward and a fellow outdoors enthusiast. Despite the temperamental weather, this community was able to make the most of the situation, enjoying great food, legendary music, and experiencing all adventure activities that MOX had to offer.

Until next year,

Wallace James Huggett

Cohort of 2017

Thursday, October 30, 2014

We Give a Dam

On Monday October 20th, the Rivers Institute helped put on a screening of the documentary “Dam Nation” as part of UD's Sustainability Week. Dam Nation explores the change in our national attitude concerning dams. At first there was national pride in big dams, which were seen as engineering wonders. Recently, however, there is the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers.

          Personally, Dam Nation made me very aware of just what dams are doing to our environment. I never realized that dams could even really be a “bad” thing. Dams all over America and all over the world have flooded out countless areas that may have been homes to people and animals. Dams disrupt the natural ecosystem of rivers, which negatively impacts most of the fish species living in the rivers. Migratory fish like salmon are extremely impacted because each season they attempt to swim back up stream to reproduce. Dams have kept salmon from doing this and therefore salmon populations are decreasing dramatically. This also means that salmon cannot be fished, which economically hurts the communities that may have depended on fishing for income.

          However, if “Dam Nation” did teach me one thing, it’s that there’s hope! Dam removal is flourishing all over the country as cities are starting to realize what little benefits dams bring to their communities. After the dams are being removed, scientists are finding that the natural environment is restoring itself rather quickly and native species are returning.

          So what does this mean for Dayton? We are a city prided for our amazing dams designed by the famous Arthur Morgan. Luckily, there were 3 informative panelists at the screening to explain the dam system of Dayton! None of our dams are used for hydroelectricity and all of our dams are free flowing, which allow fish to travel through without any trouble. The panelists also informed us that Dayton is following the trend of the rest of America as we are looking to remove many of our low-dams, which may be doing more harm than good. Our dam systems are used strictly for flood prevention and therefore do not flood out our environments. Citizens of Dayton can rest assured that we will not wake up to any graffiti on our dams from the stars of “Dam Nation.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

River Clean Up

On Sunday, October 19th, a partnership was made between two University of Dayton programs. The Marianist Leadership Scholars and the River Stewards (Cohort of 2017) traveled to the Great Miami River to pick up trash along the banks. It was a perfect afternoon. The sun was up, the sky was blue, and Dayton students were caring for their river.

As a river campus, it is important to us to care for the environment. We are more than willing to do the little things to help improve it. The River Stewards’ mission is to preserve and protect Dayton’s water resources, as well as build community around Dayton’s rivers. The Marianist Leadership Scholars’ mission is to become more aware and active in the greater Dayton community. This project allowed both groups of students to lead through service. River Stewards educated the Marianist Leadership Scholars about the Dayton aquifer and the importance of the rivers in the Dayton community. The Marianist Leadership Scholars shared with the River Stewards their mission to use their education and faith to work for justice and to serve others. Both programs enjoyed working together to service the river and the surrounding environment.

After the conclusion of the project, the two programs went to 305 Kiefaber to enjoy refreshments and build new relationships. The two groups got to bond and each participant expanded their network of friends. Although these two programs seem to differ in many ways, both have a passion for community building. The project was a great success and members from each program were able to grow from the experience.

As a Marianist Leadership Scholar and River Steward, I was incredibly happy to see both programs work together to accomplish a common goal. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw two strangers, from separate programs, become friends after one day. To me, this project built friendships and emphasized the importance of caring for our water resources.

Alvin Boyd Newman-Caro

Cohort of 2017

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The 2015 Cohort is Nuttier Than You’d Think!

The 2015 Cohort is thinking a lot of nutty thoughts!  We have been learning about nuts, identifying nuts, collecting nuts, figuring out what nuts are the good nuts, and sorting nuts alongside our friends at Adventure Central.  Why? Well, it is not just because we are all nuts!  For our cohort project we are working with Adventure Central to help address an important issue, and that is improving tree canopy.  So, let’s delve into the what, why, and how.

What have we been up to?
Earlier this semester the 2015 cohort began working with the “Purple Group” at Adventure Central.  After a group of our cohort learned alongside the Purple Group about different native nuts and seeds of Ohio we went on a field trip with Adventure Central to help Five Rivers MetroPark collect nuts to help with their goal of improving tree canopy.

Field Trip with Adventure Central

Look at All Those Nuts!

Now, about 2 to 3 times a week a group of our cohort works alongside the students at Adventure Central.  We did a nut collection of our own at Woodlands Cemetery.  Then, we float tested the acorns we collected to see what nuts were good and what nuts were bad (the good nuts sink while the bad nuts float).  Eventually, these nuts will be planted and grown in the basement of Adventure Central so that they can eventually be planted at Wesleyan MetroPark where Adventure Central is located.

Float Test at Adventure Central - Finding the Good Nuts and the Bad Nuts

Why are we doing this?
I promise we aren't just doing this because we are all nuts!  Not only are we forming a deeper relationship with Adventure Central, who is a great community partner, we are also learning about the ‘why’.  Improving tree canopy is so important for a community because trees provide so many benefits (like helping to prevent water pollution), and with tree issues like the ash borer it is important to tackle the issue of improving tree canopy head on.    

How are we going to finish this project?
We haven’t quite gotten to the point where we can finish the answer to this question, but we are on our way!  This Saturday (October 25th) we are gathering several stewards to participate in “Make a Difference Day” at Adventure Central where we will help with seed collection and maintenance. This semester we are also planning on giving the Purple Group at Adventure Central a tour of UD’s campus and next semester we will lead a tour of Dayton by utilizing the Fitz Center Bus.  In the spring we will also be taking the Purple Group on two river paddles.  If we did not sound busy enough we have even more ideas in the works, and this is all on top of the nutty work we have already been working on!