Thursday, December 29, 2011

A River Poem

I would like to express my River Love in a simple poem.
(Side Note: I apologize for my less-than-fantastic-rhyme-scheme/lack of poetic abilities)

The Stewards of the River, a family, a bond,
We kayak down rivers and teach Girl Scouts in ponds.
We’ve learned how to paddle, to drive the van “safely”,
We’ve camped and we’ve sang, and faced low ropes quite bravely.
We’ve discussed and we’ve researched, we’ve listened and taught,
We’ve been excited, and intrigued, and at times even distraught.

That very first Stew year, we learned and explored,
The Dayton bubble popped, and BOOM-- we found more!
Year two rolled around, and like that we weren’t babies,
But we’ve risen and grown into wise gentlemen and ladies.
And now my cohort ’13, they’re not simply my peers,
They’re my siblings, my collegues, my friends for the years.

And here, the new babies, so eager and bright-eyed,
And those clever seniors, (whose project we high-five!)
Above and below, the middle; all of us,
Together we create our everlasting river love.
And because we’ve learned from each other, and bonded quite well
I wanted to say, thanks river stews! For all being so swell!

Happy New Year and see you all soon!
-Jill ☺

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Over Thanksgiving Break I had the chance to reflect on my River Steward's application completed back in March and must second fellow stew Amy Schultz in saying that applying for the program was one of my better decisions.

Being a River Steward has exposed me to new opportunities and ideas. Through group activities like kayaking, bike riding, and cookie making I have grown very proud of each member in the program. Some of you have shown me faith while others of you have shown me hope but all of you have shown me love and I am ever so indebted and appreciative for it. At this point I realize I have many unreturned favors and am very glad there is still time.

Most especially, the River Stewards program has allowed me to explore Dayton more fully. The frequency with which I have engaged the city has increased tremendously. Gearfest and countless other excursions have taught me the value of community and have led me to critically evaluate my role within such a setting.

Finally, I wish a big thank-you to all of the community members that have made the River Steward experience and RLC course possible including Leslie King and Don Geiger.

It has been a rewarding semester.

Prospero año!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

River Stewards - A Life Changing Experience

Applying to be a River Steward was the best decision I made as a freshman at the University of Dayton. I've already gained so much from the program, and it's only been one semester. Looking back on the countless happenings of my brief time as a River Steward, I can honestly say it has been a rewarding experience that I can't wait to continue with.

Coming into the program I hardly knew the majority of my cohort, and never expected us to bond as quickly as we did. After a few days of team building activities and getting to know each other, you'd never guess we were strangers only a couple days prior. It was great to get the opportunity to meet a handful of people with the same interests as me. I'm so thankful for all of the friendships I've made- without River Stewards to bring us together I would have missed out on some great times with some great people (and I can't wait to see what the future holds for the 2014 cohort!!)

I'd say the most rewarding and fondest memory I have from this semester would be the orientation 17 mile paddle. I'd never been kayaking in my life, and was slightly nervous to have to take on such an intimidating task as an amatuer. However, once we got paddling the nerves subsided and I was able to fully relax and enjoy being out in nature. Being from Cincinnati I never had many opportunities in high school to just sit and enjoy what the world has to offer, and being on that paddle brought me back to the nature-appreciating time of my childhood. Getting to spend time with all the river stewards and community partners without the worry of social networks and happens of the outside world was priceless, and an experience I'll always remember. That and spending time around the campfire, paddling through the mega fountains at River Scape, and the feeling of accomplishment after pulling my kayak ashore after the paddle was over.

The Rivers Institute has given me so much in my small time as a River Steward, and I am so excited to move forward and see what the next semesters bring. Anyone who is considering applying for the program should definitely do it - there isn't a better opportunty out there to have so much fun and get involved in the community as being a River Steward is!!!

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!!
Amy Schultz, 2014 Cohort

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Girl Scout Canoeing

River Stewards is always a joy. We really know how to have fun whether were doing service, at a cohort meeting, debating about our senior project or doing a river cleanup in the cold, pouring rain! Teaching the girl scouts to canoe with a bunch of girl river stewards was the most fun, however.

Fourth and fifth grade girl scouts were at a camp doing all sorts of fun camping activities but they were most excited to have older role model-like girls to teach them how to canoe versus their leaders who are with them all the time and moms. We were cool in their eyes. Most of us river stewards were girl scouts in our early years and knew what it was like to be in their shoes, too.

We arrived early on a Saturday morning and although I doubted that I would be very awake seeing that Saturdays are my sleep in days, the cold water, early morning dew, and young energy from the girl scouts woke me up immediately! It was a great morning! They reminded me of when I was young....

The girl scouts were SOO incredibly excited and eager to learn! It was weird to break down for them how to use a paddle, the strokes and how to put a canoe in the water carefully since these things have come so natural to me over the years!

Look at their eager faces...

Oh, okay, maybe that's Jill & Lindsay, the river stewards, but seriously, they were excited....

And a cool cat that loved the water and campers...

So now you understand why this was my favorite activity this semester.

Eyes Opened to Dayton's Assets

I won’t sugarcoat it and tell you that I have always loved the city of Dayton. If you had asked me last year “Hey, do you want to do something downtown tonight?” I probably would have laughed at you. The experiences that I have had my sophomore year through Rivers Stewards and R.E.A.L Dayton has led me to appreciate the beauty of this city and all that it has to offer. Okay, so what does the city of Dayton have to offer? There is an abundance of nature parks, bike paths, entertainment attractions, and a plan for economical uplifting for the downtown area. Discovering all of this during my sophomore year has been exciting and I’m anxious to make an impact on this city in the future.

What is Dayton’s most valuable asset? I’m here to tell you that my favorite asset is the beautiful preserved nature that surrounds, fills, and runs through the city. Let me bring to you one of my fondest memories as a River Steward thus far. It is a beautiful morning in August during the summer orientation paddle. The Miami River is gleaming with a new day’s sunshine. The green banks hold back the forested areas. The river is calm and only the birds are heard this morning. In the far distance you can see Dayton’s skyline, bridges, and highway traffic. Not many cities allow harmony between nature and the city life like that of Dayton. The low dam removal on Monument Avenue in the Miami River will bring recreation to the new white water course planned to replace the low dam.

There are many to thank for Dayton’s clean park system. If you are going to thank someone though, it better be Five Rivers Metro Parks. Five Rivers Metro Parks has preserved 15,000 acres of forests, wetlands, and farmlands. They have installed six bike paths throughout Montgomery County. There are 19 parks for the public to use for recreation. Many of these parks provide the option of camping at no cost to the participant. Twin Valley Park has 22 miles of hiking paths for the adventurer up for the challenge. Five Rivers Metro Parks also has a mountain biking course for the avid bikers out there.
I love the outdoors, but Dayton still has more to offer. This year I have learned about some of the entertainment attractions like Victorian Theatre, Riverscape, the Riverscape Ice Rink, Fifth Third Field, the Second Street Market, and many fine restaurants downtown. I’ve already visited many of these attractions this year but I still have more to see. This winter I hope to make it out to the ice rink at Riverscape. When the weather gets nicer I’m looking forward to getting my friends together to go to a Dayton Dragons game.

I don’t care who disagrees with me, I think we have ourselves a beautiful city in Dayton, Ohio. Now it’s time to draw some more businesses to the area. When rebuilding a city you have to utilize your already grown assets. That is the mission of Tech Town. Tech town was born ten years ago when an unused radiator plant was renovated in Dayton. The space is now used as a campus for technology commercialization: Tech Town. The ultimate goal of Tech Town is to provide an environment for optimal success for businesses that specialize in technology. Tech Town offers consultants in their Wright Patterson Air Force Base and also the University of Dayton Research Institute. Among the benefits of working with Tech Town is a proactive Dayton government. Dayton is looking to add to their 750 businesses, 100 restaurants, bars, night clubs, and art institutes. For more information on the Tech Town plan visit the website

Say what you want about the city of Dayton. I feel a part of it. There are some beautiful places in the city. The integration of nature, and outdoor parks within the city provide some sights worth seeing. Entertainment attractions like Fifth Third Field, and an outdoor ice rink provide some excitement for getting downtown. One thing that I really like the most about Dayton is how it builds off of its assets. A river runs through it – lets protect it. There’s 15,000 acres of natural beauty in the area – lets make it accessible. The Dayton Dragons are located downtown –lets showcase them. We need to draw businesses to downtown – lets provide expertise in a field we’re known for: technology. I’m proud to call Dayton my own. I’m excited to see what the future holds for a city that is working hard to elicit its assets.

Merry Christmas all!

-Stephen Crum

Friday, December 23, 2011

From Dayton to Pittsburgh

Dayton’s rivers hold a lot of importance to the city and the people around them. After spending last semester learning about the conservation of these rivers I thought I’d look and see what Pennsylvania does to promote the awareness and the conservation of its rivers. What I came across was pretty cool. Pennsylvania has been awarding rivers “River of the Year” since 1983. This is the second year that the selection process has been done through a public vote. Basically these nominations and the River of the Year honor are designed to raise public awareness of the selected rivers and to promote the conservation needs and achievements. Last year’s “River of the Year” was awarded to the Delaware River, which is the longest undammed river east of the Mississippi.

After a river is selected, local organizations organize year round activities intended to celebrate and promote the waterway. One of these activities is a sojourn. A sojourn is an extended paddling trip for people who like to canoe, kayak, or simply enjoy the water. The sojourn is aimed at raising awareness of the recreational, environmental, and heritage values of our rivers. The Delaware River sojourn was a weeklong paddle that covered over 80 miles of waterway. Each day there were two programs that were offered that dealt with conservation, recreation, or history of the area.

I thought this sounded kind of like our River Steward orientation paddle. I also thought it would be awesome if this idea were implemented in Ohio and other states. For me, getting on the water was where I felt the most connected. I think that this is a great way to raise awareness and promote recreational value and the importance of the conservation of our waterways.

Happy Holidays!
Allie Rakowski

Semester Reflection

Before coming to Dayton, I didn't know anything about the city or what it had to offer. I spent most of my time on campus last year because I didn't know what there was outside of the "Dayton bubble." After joining the River Stewards program, the bubble popped and my eyes were opened to what an awesome city Dayton is and how much there is to do. When I look back on this semester, some of my favorite memories are all thanks to the River Stewards program. I have learned and experienced more than I ever thought I would through a co-curricular, and formed friendships with people I most likely would not have met.

The first day of orientation, I was pretty nervous. I did not know anyone, but within 5 minutes my nerves had subsided and I already felt part of the group. By the end of the day, we were already making plans to hang out later that evening, and meet up the next day to walk as a group to Zehler Hall. It isn’t just the 2014 cohort that has this welcoming attitude, but also the older stewards, the community partners, and the graduate students. I have felt at home this semester thanks to all of the incredible people who are part of this program.

There are countless great memories from this semester. From the orientation kayak trip down the Great Miami River and the time we spent in downtown Dayton learning about the history of the Miami Conservancy District and fish shocking to the cold night crammed in a tent with 15 other people at Gear Fest, and all of our mini-courses in between, I can say without a doubt that this semester has been one of the most fulfilling because of the experiences I have had as a River Steward. I am looking forward to next semester and the rest of my time as a Stew and can’t wait to see everyone again in the new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Promising Investment

After my first semester in the River Stewards 2014 Cohort, I am extremely pleased with the adventures I have experienced, the knowledge I have gained, and the friendships formed. The program has exceeded every single one of my expectations and has helped me view my new hometown, Dayton, in an entirely new light. I do not only feel comfortable with my fellow cohort members, but I feel like I have become a part of one large family including all of the older stewards, graduate students, professors and even some of the community partners. My college experience has seriously transformed in a matter of a semester thanks to my involvement as a River Steward.

My first memory was the 2-day kayak trip down the Great Miami. I only knew a few other students paddling down the river beside me, yet everyone treated each other with both respect and levity. Dayton was the last place I expected to fulfill my needs of being outdoors. The River Stewards provided the perfect venue to enjoy outdoor recreation, especially one of my favorite activities, fishing. Learning about the rivers in the watershed from our mini-courses was responsible for my fishing trips up near Taylorsville Dam where I managed to catch a couple of bass. Our cohort even got a taste of Dayton’s local history with our field trip to Sunwatch Village, a neat historical site I had no idea existed. There are already so many memories to remind me that I have become involved with a program I will be able to cherish for the rest of my college career.

I will admit that the senior class’s Rec Bikes was a great idea, an impressive achievement, and is already a very popular activity on campus. It will certainly be a tough project to compete with, but my cohort has already started brainstorming some ideas about what crazy, fun, and innovative thing we could bring to the UD students. With this being said, I am really looking forward to collaborating with my cohort to bring an imagination to life. The years to come will be filled with service, laughter, adventures, and creativity...I cannot wait! Merry Christmas to everyone, I look forward to seeing you all in January.

Sharing Dayton, EAB, and Mad River

Hello, all! I hope everybody is having a great start to their Christmas break! I actually started off my Christmas break by going back to Dayton.

Last week I had won tickets to see the Nutcracker at the Schuster Center through, so my mom and I went to the Saturday afternoon show. Of course since we were already downtown we had to go to the 2nd Street Market for some Christmas shopping and lunch. We also did a little stroll through the Oregon District. I absolutely love taking people to Downtown Dayton because everybody is always so shocked to find all of the neat things to do. I do believe I have converted my mom into being a believer in Dayton because when I first moved to Dayton she swore it was just the pit of Ohio, and now she says that she wants to live in Dayton.

Last week I also had a very exciting meeting with the solid waste subcommittee for the Environmental Advisory Board where we started the conversation to implement recycling in the Dayton Public Schools. I spent the past semester working at Thurgood Marshall High school, and I noticed that there is no recycling at the school and apparently no recycling at any of the Dayton Public Schools. I mentioned my observation to the Board, and now the subcommittee is looking into the situation with the hopes of getting recycling at the schools! I am really excited about the project, so I will keep you posted!

One last update- this week I went and visited my high school science teacher and he told me about a project through the Ohio EPA (I think) to raise 300 trout that will be released into the Mad River. I am from Bellefontaine, which is pretty close to the start of the Mad River and the Miami river, so my school used to do a lot of projects with the Mad River. My teacher said he is having a hard time getting students interested in helping with the trout project, so I mentioned that I could come in and do a little River Steward presentation about the big picture of the rivers that are so close to home. I will also keep you posted on this project.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

River Steward Reflection

This past semester, the Junior 2013 cohort has been working hard to decide on a worthy project we will pursue for senior year. Our group has done a good job of voicing opinions and also compromising to choose a project that we can all be proud of and one that focuses on the mission of the Rivers Institute. I thank the 2012 cohort for doing a supurb job on executing their project, RecBikes, and really inspiring us to make our presence known on campus. I am also so grateful for all that I have learned through mini course and the program. Without this knowledge, I wouldn't even know what issues could be addressed through a senior project. I now feel like we are prepared to use what we have been learning to help others learn as well.
I am also realizing that the people I have met through River Stewards have become some of my closest friends on campus. I truly love how we all interact during our Friday mini course, but also my interactions with stewards outside of the program. I sat next to fellow stews, Allie and McLean in my environmental policy class, and we all did a project together which focused on pollution due to hydraulic fracturing. I really enjoyed working with these girls outside of stewards on a topic that related to things we had learned in stewards. I also had the opportunity to lead REAL Dayton breakout with AJ and Gretchen and absolutely loved hanging out with them outside of class. It was so great to work with stewards in other cohorts because I really hadn't had that opportunity. And now I look forward to living with five other stewards in a sustainability house next year. These are just some of the connections I have made with other stewards and I hope for more to come in the future as we add another cohort to our family. Being a River Steward has meant so much to me in my time at UD and I know that the qualities I am learning through the program and through the Fitz Center will help me in my future career and life.

Merry Christmas!

Sustainability House

This year several River Stewards had the opportunity to live in Sustainability Special Interest Housing. Now many people may think that special interest housing is just a nice way to get a house in the south student neighborhood (“the ghetto”), however our groups made an extreme effort to live in a simple, eco-friendly manner. In addition to leading by example, the four houses (22 students) educated other students about environmental issues through events and dinners (free food always encourages participation :))

I lived in “The Treehouse” at 124 Evanston. Six of us reduced our energy and water usage, line dried our clothes, ate locally, gardened, and composted! We lived without air conditioning for those few tortuous weeks in August and September and have been living with little heat for the past couple weeks. We purchased fresh produce and eggs weekly from our friends at Patchwork Gardens as well as grew our own herbs in a garden that was installed behind our house! We installed rain barrels and a compost bin behind our home to water and fertilize the garden. We also held an event in September where we gave out potted herbs and educated other students about the importance of eating locally!

Next semester we will be involved in planning events for Earth Day as well as working with several groups to decrease campus energy usage and potentially installing a green roof on the KU patio! Also we have recently discovered that next year 6 River Stewards will be residing in the Sustainability Special Interest House at 406 Stonemill!

For more information regarding our house you can check-out our blog -

Happy Holidays! - Milena

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hey everybody!

I just wanted to update everyone on the Rivermobile project. The last meeting went really well and Exhibit Design Concepts is hoping to have a final design for us at the end of January.During the meeting we split into two groups made up of both designers and River Stewards and laid out what we thought the inside of the tractor trailer should look like. At the end of the meeting, we compared the two different pictures. It was amazing how similar the two groups' designs were! I am looking forward to continuing to work on this project next semester.

Have a great break! See you in January.

Taylor Pair

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reflection of the Semester

This semester was another great one to be a river steward! I enjoyed each mini-course and feel like I gained a lot this semester. One particular mini-course that sticks out to me was my cohort's visit to Troy. The City of Troy has done some great things to connect people to the river which include building swings, paths, and the renovation waterside restaurant. The city has many additional plans that are waiting for funding. The actions of the City of Troy give me hope for what we are doing as river stewards. It's great to see others in our corridor striving to create something that will bring members of the community to the river and outdoors. The area we live in is unique and we need to enjoy what Dayton and the surrounding communities have to offer. Being river stewards we are lucky enough to know this, but it's our job to tell others!
Happy holidays! Be sure to take some friends to RiverScape for ice skating next semester!
(More info about Troy can be found at

Elizabeth Wetzel

Gear Fest

This dates back to early in the semester but it was one of my favorite River Steward experiences so far. Gear Fest happened on the first weekend of October in Eastwood Metro Park. When we got there is was about 40 degrees and raining while we set up our tents. Personally I didn't do much that first night at gear fest beyond watching the slackliners warm up and eat Monchon, a sandwich cart located usually on the dark side (North Student Neighborhood) on the weekends. That night we slept in the tents and it was so cold that about 15 people slept in the same tent for warmth. In the middle of the night I we were woken up by screams because groundhogs were trying to get up out of their holes and we put the tent right on top of them. The next day after welcoming people in the morning I learned what Gear Fest was all about. I watched people mountain biking, running, kayaking, canoeing, and slacklining.

I went around to the booths set up by local organizations and learned about what outdoor activities they were involved with. I got to watch the national championship of slack-lining and for those of you who don't know what slack-lining is, I placed a clip from Gear Fest below. I tried it myself and accidentally bounced off of it doing a back flip onto my butt. Overall it was an exciting experience and I can't wait to go back to it next year under its new name, Midwest Outdoor Experience.
Last weekend I took a break from studying for finals and met some of my family members in Columbus to see my cousins art show. Somehow we got on the topic of the Rivers around Columbus and Dayton and I couldn't help but fill them in on how amazing the Rivers and Dams of Dayton are and how clean Dayton's water is. They were so impressed! Also, I told them about the new Rec bikes at the UD rec center. They couldn't believe that a small group of students were able to put such a large program in place on a college campus. While I was talking to them about the Rivers Institute I couldn't help but find myself falling even more in love with Dayton, its Rivers, and the Rivers Institute.

Tackling Teamwork

It is hard to believe that another semester has already gone by for the 2013 cohort! Looking back though, the one word I could use to describe our semester would be "teamwork." Right off the bat with going to Camp Kern for team-building at the low ropes course, we knew this would be a crucial element for our cohort as we began to brainstorm ideas for our Senior Project. Even though we represent a variety of majors and interests, we have been able to come together and get excited over a common goal and vision we see for UD. We are excited to see our idea become a reality over the next semester and we are ready to get creative and share our knowledge and passion with the rest of the UD campus!
Get excited for what 2012 has in store for the River Stewards!
-Ellen C.
2013 cohort River Steward

My Work in the Lab

Hey everyone,

These past few weeks I have been working in the lab with my adviser. We have multiple experiments happening at one time but two of them have caught my eye.

Two of his lab leaders are doing experiments based solely around a river and how X affects it. I was invited to lab a bit too late to learn about one of the experiments fully but I do know that she was testing and studying the algae growth at different points in the river. The best part is that I was able to go out into the field, or in this case the river, and get my hands wet in frigid waters.
Now, the other experiment is just now starting and she is studying the relationship between Daphnia and how Honeysuckle affects them.

Next semester I will try to keep my blogs about this experiment with updates and such and hopefully it will be pretty interesting.

And one last thing, when I was getting off the plane someone stopped me and said "Nice shirt" and they were referring to my GearFest shirt. Its pretty cool how widespread GearFest is.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another RLC Update

Week 12

This week the RLC took on a global perspective of river systems. Nancy Nerny, board member for Dayton Public Schools, and Sr. Leanne Jablonski, Director of MEEC, led the class in discussions on global water issues. Previous to class, each student was assigned a case study to research. The case studies included: the sinking of Mexico City, water pollution in Malaysia, groundwater depletion in Hawaii, Israel, the Palestinians, and the Jordan River, and the Three Gorges Dam. With research in hand, the students shared what they had found. Each student filled out a “jigsaw” or, a chart with areas to fill in the information they had found. The chart included areas to fill in information on the case (conflict and its cause), scientific background, social implications, public policy, solutions, and Dayton implications. The students found the research interesting. Many of the students reflected on how the US takes water for granted. They were surprised by the water issues other people face around the world.

Week 13

This week, the RLC continued with global water issues. Building upon last week and the research the students conducted, the students viewed the movie Blue Gold. The movie, a documentary style film, is a report on water issues around the world signifying how the world’s water is precious. In response to the film the students answered the following journal question:

The last two classes have focused on global water issues. Reflecting on Blue Gold and the in-class activities what strikes you the most? What have you learned about water conflicts as a whole? What do you propose will be necessary to achieve solutions and access to clean and safe drinking water for all? Why is it important to have an interdisciplinary approach to leadership?

The students really responded to the film. One student recommended showing the film at the beginning of the semester in order to grab students’ attention about water issues. Having viewed the film earlier, this student thought he would have created a project proposal based on the film’s content.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Earlier this year in August, the River Stewards embarked on their annual Orientation for the incoming River Stewards. Accompanied by community partners and other River Stewards, the group of paddlers made their way down a 17 mile stretch ending on the Great Miami River near Sun Watch Indian Village. There, the Stewards packed up and participated in a small reflection exercises lead by brother Geiger. At one point during the reflection brother Geiger asked each member to pour a small amount of water from their water bottles into the river. He then prompted everyone to imagine where their water would end up in the future..

Now is the future. The water that was poured into the river could now be the snow atop a child's snowman. The water could be dispersed among the waves in the Gulf of Mexico, the reefs of Australia, or the currents of the Atlantic. The water could be sweat on the floor of the Rec Plex or even a puddle in a drainage system in Cincinnati. The water could be anywhere on the planet by now. The point is that we are interconnected by our watersheds. What we do here and now plays a role in what they will do then and there. Lets us be wise and diligent with what we do in the "here and now".

Be encouraged ye Stewards of the River!

Alexander Gaskins