Monday, December 31, 2012

An Energy Nerd's Reflection

Hello Stews,

As the year ends, I have realized the great impact River Stewards has had upon my experiences in my collegiate career.  I have a much greater appreciation for the city of Dayton, the great water resources available and how the city utilizes its resources.   I have also learned a great deal about sustainability through River Stewards and joining Sustainability Club on campus. 

One part of sustainability that has really caught my interest is in energy.  I am currently studying to be an electrical engineer and co-op at an energy company, Duke Energy.  During the River Steward summer orientation, I made a joke, to Leslie’s disliking, that I work for a company that pollutes our air and water, and I felt like I needed to balance that out with something that protects our environment.  Although this was meant as a joke, it is not a joke that energy production is a large contributor to pollution today.  However, being an employee of a large energy company has given me a unique perspective on sustainable energy and what is being done to make our energy as clean as possible.

A hot topic in clean energy is renewable energy.  In the United States, this clean energy has received a large push by many people and governments to become a more prominent way for our energy to be produced.  I am all for renewable energy, but there are many issues with it for energy companies who would be the ones most using this new means of energy production.  For example, many wind farms have been built across the USA.  A major problem with wind farms is that large energy companies lose money by allowing the windmills to produce energy.  However, the government gives companies money for producing wind energy to cover the costs. With the shape our government is in now, I am not sure how much longer this subsidizing will last.  There are many advancements in renewable energy that need to be made in order for this to be a main producer of energy for our nation, but I am optimistic for these future advancements.

In the Midwest, against our liking, coal is a main source of energy because of its availability, price, and efficiency.  To our liking, the government has put many environmental regulations on the production of coal that is causing many coal plants to be shut down because they cannot meet these regulations. Because of the regulations, there are many investments being made by energy companies to make our energy cleaner.  Many coal power plants have scrubbers installed that remove about 95% of sulfur oxide from the smoke from coal.

Energy companies, including Duke Energy, are also investing in a new way of burning coal through an Integrated Gasification Combine Cycle (IGCC).  This process turns coal into a gas so harmful chemicals can be removed from the coal before it is burned.

Although it would be ideal to stop burning coal all together, the reality is this is not economically possible based on demand and profit.  Next week I will begin my second co-op term with Duke Energy and am very excited to see other steps that can be done with our energy companies to better protect our environment.  My experiences as a River Steward have allowed me to make connections from my job to the effects on the environment and I am excited to continue to learn and apply more as a River Steward.

Drew Bolubasz – 2015 Cohort

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In an attempt to connect my experience as a River Steward and a member of the Rescue Squad, I decided to volunteer at the Emergency Medical Services department (Station 22, Huber Heights) and Miami Valley Hospital (MVH). Coincidentally, I happened to be a part of the rescue team for a woman who crashed into the Great Miami River on the first night of November, 2012*. As our crew arrived on scene, we were informed that the patient was trapped in her car, submerged in the river up to her waist level for approximately 25 minutes. The patient was extricated and secured on the stretcher, which was loaded onto the back of our ambulance. Unaware of the river's presence, the patient had turned towards its side to avoid collisions as she lost control of her vehicle, as stated by the patient en route to the hospital. Due to this accident, the patient was severely hypothermic, and all of her wet clothing but the top underwear was completely cut and removed in order to restore her body temperature. The patient pleaded with us not to cut her brassiere because she would not be able to afford a new one. She then asked us to pack all of her torn clothes, so she could mend and wear them again if possible. It still makes me sad thinking about how unfortunate it is for anyone to have to worry about his or her clothes while in a situation that could result in death. Indeed, this incident was a direct reminder of the poverty level in our region. When I volunteered in the Emergency Department of MVH, for instance, I interviewed a homeless man who asked the hospital staff to assist his suicide. (Both of these patients survived, as far as I know.) Yet I am grateful that these service opportunities have opened my eyes to people who are in need, and led me to think about my own role in society. With the strong support from the Rivers Institute and the Fitz Center, I feel that River Stewards could achieve almost anything to make the difference we want to make, and am extremely excited to see what we will bring to our community by helping those that are in need.  

*This story was covered in local ABC news, but attaching the link would be a violation of patient privacy.

Hailey Kwon
2015 Cohort

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2014 Cohort's Cap Stone Rocks!

Alas! Winter break is here! We can be with our families and old friends. No classes, no homework, no exams. We're done! Well kinda...

You see, the River Steward's 2014 cohort has been hard at work all semester and especially these last several weeks, and in order to keep the momentum in our favor, we've several task to accomplish over break.

For those of you who may not know what we've in mind for our cap stone project let me give you a brief description of what we are envisioning. Our idea is a digital and interactive kiosk. A kiosk that will highlight and provide enticing descriptions of Dayton's best outdoor destinations, especially those along the river. The idea was inspired by our desire to share some of our favorite spots with the rest of the UD community. Thanks to the 2012 cohort, UD has the ability to reach many of these destinations by bike...if only they knew where the destinations were. That is where we come in. The aim of the kiosk is to point a very enthusiastic UD body in the right direction(s). Simple enough.

So far, we've only a rough layout of where we want to go with this and how we think we want to get there. Our next steps are to find community partners, solidify the kiosk design, drum up the conversation with UD, and simultaneously draft a formal proposal. There is much work to be done, however, we're both confident and excited about moving forward, especially now that we officially have the support and approval from Leslie King and Dick Ferguson. Our progress so far can only be attributed to a wonderful coordinator (shout out to Leslie!) and an amazing cohort.

Many good things to come!

Alexander Gaskins

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life Away From River Stews

Good afternoon all!

This semster I have been co-oping instead of taking classes, so I have unfortunately been away from all of the fun and exhilirating activities of the River Stews all semester. However, although I have not been able to be present at mini-courses, I have still found ways to bring nature and the river into my everyday life.

First of all, this semester marks my second co-op term with Montgomery County Water Services (or Environmental Services, depending on who you talk to). MCWS oversees all of the water, sewer, and storm mains, and also waste collection (the City of Dayton is exempt from this, since they have their own department--in case you were wondering!) Lucky for me, I work in a building that deals with water and the community day-in and day-out, so I'm constantly reminded of how important water is to life and how crucial community involvement and cooperation is. One of the coolest things I've seen all semester was the re-routing of a 30" diameter water main. The construction process wasn't what I found most intriguing - it was the size of the main that I couldn't believe. For those who don't know how water mains work, they are constantly full of flowing water, brought to homes by pressure systems. So when I saw this water main, all I could think about was how much water it could hold and how much water it would be brining to community members. We really don't realize how lucky we are to have clean water readily available at our houses at any given moment, and are quick to look over how much water is flowing underneath us into our community and in our country in general. Working on projects as such really brings the vision and mission of the River Stewards home for me.

Besides working, I have found time to do other River Steward-related activities in my free time. I'm a member of the 2014 cohort, and we have started meeting on Sunday nights to start hashing out our senior project. More details to come on that soon -- all I can say is, our cohort is very dedicated to educating the public, and I really look forward to seeing how our project pans out.

Lastly, I'd like to mention the wonderful day I had last weekend. Saturday was the most beautiful fall day I've seen all semester (and been able to experience since I wasn't at work), so my boyfriend and I decided that we wanted to go hiking at one of the metroparks. Lucky for us, I have a stockpile of every brochure on every metropark in the area (thanks to our visit to the Five Rivers Metroparks' office a couple semesters back), so it was easy to pick out which park we wanted to visit. We ended up going up to Englewood Metropark and hiked all afternoon--it was the best way to spend a Saturday!

I'm really looking forward to being back on campus next semester to enjoy the company of my fellow Stews, develop our senior project, and learn new things at mini-course each Friday!

River Love & Happy Holidays,
Amy Schultz

Monday, November 12, 2012

BONJOUR, friends:

Next semester, I will be performing research abroad at the University of Geneva in Geneva, Switzerland. The project, funded in part by the Swiss National Science Foundation, is within the field of bioethics. Along with a team of cognitive scientists and oversight professor Dr. Samia Hurst, I will assist in the study of vulnerable persons in the healthcare system, aiming in the end to solidify definitions of protection and vulnerability.

In anticipation for the experience, I have studied what I can about Swiss identity, language, geography and customs.

Pertinent to my time as a River Steward, I learned that Geneva is located on the southwest tip of the country, where the Rhone River meets the Arve (pictured just below) and Switzerland dips down to border France. Geneva is also known for two other important geographical elements as the city sits on Lake Geneva and the Alps slumber behind.

Come Springtime, I hope to have dipped my feet into the country's wine and chocolate culture, local traditions (including literary and intellectual figures associated with the region) and the infamous e-bike, featured here in the New York Times:

where the Rhone meets the Arve
Geneva, Switzerland

Bon aventure!!

River of Life

          Leonardo da Vinci once said, "In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time."

         I give this quote because not only is it true, it is how I have started looking at life now that I am a River Steward. Every time I pass by a river now, I watch it. I watch it as it moves downstream, winding and carving its own path. the river doesn't stop. It is continually flowing no matter the amount of water it holds. when I wake up in the morning, the river is flowing. When I go to sleep at night, the river is flowing. It moves with a purpose, like we do through life.

        As I look at the river now, I see my life. My life is continually moving forward and not stopping for anything. Much like the river, it carves its own path and doesn't stop flowing. Whether we have good days or bad days, life goes on. If the river has 2 inches of water or 2 meters, it goes on. Whatever is going on around us shouldn't stop us from staying on life's path that God has for us. We move down the river of life with a purpose and stop for nothing. We all have goals in life and God has a plan for us. Life has challenges, but it is imperative that we keep moving downstream towards our goals and what we feel is right.

     Stay on life's path, bring life to people as you continue on your journey, and keep floating on that river.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

More Outdoor Excitement (MOX anyone?)

       Today was a gorgeous fall day with full sunshine for most of the day and a light breeze rolling across campus. However last week was as frigid as ever and next week we are forecasted to get snow possibly. This shows us yet again how crazy the weather in Ohio is. Roll back the clock 6 weeks and the weather was like today at the beginning of Fall Break.

       Over Fall Break I attended and volunteered at M.O.X. (Midwestern Outdoor Experience – formerly GearFest) at the kayaking station. Even though it was sunny and gorgeous out I still bundled up in tights, pants, and all the techwick layers I owned in preparation for kayaking. We were one of the first volunteers at kayaking so we got to pick kayaks and hop in the water right away. There was a big stretch of open water to the right of the docks and then a loop that took you through some trees and under a bridge on the left. I was in heaven as soon as I hopped in the kayak and pushed off the dock since I was slotted to kayak for the whole day – really, what could be better than that?

       Soon people began hopping in kayaks and testing them out which was also awesome to see how excited they got and how much people enjoyed paddling. For the next few hours I paddled around, answered questions about the correct ways to paddle and turn, and checked in to make sure people were having fun. It was also a splendid day because we only had one person dunk themselves in the morning and one in the evening! Around three o’clock I switched with another volunteer and took charge of life jackets – which was also exciting because now I could talk to more people about MOX and kayaking. I answered questions, fitted people with life jackets and wished them a great time on the water. Many people loved kayaking and canoeing so much they barely wanted to get out of the water at the end of the day!

       I enjoyed my time at M.O.X., not just because of all the kayaking I got to experience but also because I got to see how excited people can get their first time in a kayak or canoe. I really enjoyed being a part of so many people’s first outdoor water experiences and hope this day will be the inspiration for some to try it again or do more activities outdoors! I can’t wait for next year!

Get your paddles ready,
Abigail Spohn

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Waters that Connect Us


I know it's a little late in the semester for a blog post about summer travels, but as the nights get colder and I realize just how many more layers I'm putting on for my ten minute walk to class, I'm really missing Hawai'i.

Adam and I were lucky enough to join a UD environmental biology professor, PK, his wife, and 18 other students on the 3 week Hawai'i Marine Biology class. Needless to say, it was an AMAZING experience. We toured three islands, saw tons of incredible wildlife, fish, and learned about how the islands of Hawai'i were formed. Lava from deep sea volcanoes, guys. It's legit.

It was a whirlwind of adventure, snorkeling, cliff jumping, fish identifying, waterfalls, Hawai'i Undersea Research Lab submarines, the Gemini Observatory, luaus, manta rays, visiting the beaches where LOST and Baywatch were filmed, volcano and mountain climbing, and, well, just about everything. I could go on and on for days about all of the amazing things we got to see and do.

If anyone loves the great state of Ohio, it's me, but if I had the chance to go back to Hawai'i, I'd take it in a heartbeat. It is one of the most beautiful, biologically diverse places I've ever been - just being there fills me with a sense of adventure.

I went into this 3 week course, thinking, "This is so far from the rivers at home. Islands, oceans, mountains, volcanoes... it's going to be nothing like Dayton." I couldn't have been more wrong.

While on the island of Oahu, we visited the University of Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology. Here we got to see a false killer whale named Keana, who had cone-shaped teeth and could do plenty of tricks, and a little family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are the only dolphins ever kept in "captivity" (I put captivity in quotes because it has such a negative connotation - the animals are kept very happy and well-treated) because they don't travel as far as Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Dolphins are like the dogs of the ocean - always curious and happy to see you! Anyway, that's beside the point.

While we were on a tour of the facilities at the Institute, our guide began talking about the native Hawaiian people and how they divided up their lands - by WATERSHED. It was kind of weird because I happened to be wearing my Rivers Institute dry-fit that day. Our guide explained that the different communities of Hawaiians would mark the different watersheds by putting a pigs head on a stick, a gift to the other Hawaiians for the fair delineation of the lands. It's for that reason that the watersheds gained the Hawai'ian name, Ahupua'a. (Pua'a is Hawaiian for pig.) The ahupua'a ran from the mountains to the ocean, and included everything from the waterfalls to the rivers and streams to the coral reef fed by the streams and rivers. The ancient Hawaiians used this system of land division with a sense of spirituality and interconnection of the land and water. There was a sense of balance and interrelation between beings, the elements, and the landscape. I found it interesting that this is the ideology that many environmental and conservation-minded people are turning back to, and one that I think the Dayton area is embracing extremely well. We are so blessed to live in a region where there is a known respect for our rivers. It is so comforting to me to know that our waters, no matter where they are, are known and respected by many people who know and appreciate their value.

Here are some pictures from the trip, and links to more information about ahupua'a!

The Four Waters of Maui at Iao Needle

Mountain stream at Iao Needle, Maui

Iao Stream Flood Control Project - This project diverts the stream from the wet side of the island to the dry side, where the resorts are. This confuses some of the snails and fish that live in the streams but also migrate to the ocean.

Huge rainbow at Volcanoes National Park, Big Island.

Haleakala Crater, Maui.

BJ, one of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at HIMB, Oahu.

Rainbow Falls, Hilo, Big Island.

Stewards at the ocean!

River Love,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Protecting the Gems

This semester, I acquired an internship with the city of Dayton's department of aviation. As an intern for the city, I was given a brief rundown of the cities political structure and got to meet some influential city workers. After a casual tour of the Dayton International Airport (DAY), I learned of one action that city takes to guard its precious watershed--to protect its gems!

It all starts as October rolls around and those cold north winds get to blowing. As autumn gives way to winter, the airplanes at DAY have to be sprayed down with a de-icing fluid before each flight. The issue, however, is that once the planes have been sprayed down, gallons of this fluid are left on the black-top where they can be swept into the near-by creek which runs  into the Stillwater River. In preparation of this problem, the Environmentalist and Engineers at the airport created a collection system that captures these chemicals to keep them from contaminating the water ways. As you can imagine, this collection process is no cheap task (trust me, I calculated the estimated cost for this winter).

As river stewards, we can understand the significance of our watershed and we know why it is important to keep them healthy, but sometimes I feel like we are the only ones. However, I share this story because I was very encouraged to see that the city was taking seriously their stewardship of the river and that we are not alone in efforts to protect the cities gems.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

A New Perspective from a New Stew

Hello River Reflection followers!

My name is Rachel and I am a “Baby Stew” (so I am a sophomore member of the River Stewards). I am an Electrical Engineering major and I am from Eighty Four, Pennsylvania (yes, my town is Eighty Four, which is in the Pittsburgh area in case you were wondering!). Even though I may be just a “Baby” I certainly do not feel out of place, or out of the loop! Let me give you a briefing of what I (and other newbies) have been experiencing as we begin our lifelong journey as Stewards of the river.

During the weekend of August 11th and 12th, while most UD students were just beginning to pack up to move back on campus, we were already moved in and preparing for our River Steward orientation adventures. I know that pictures have been shared, and other Stew’s have made the 17 mile float down the Great Miami, but in case you did not know orientation is A LOT of FUN! It is a really unique experience to come back to a campus you know well and enter into an entirely new community on campus. Essentially, you make a whole new group of friends on top of people that you already know, something that most others on campus do not experience.

Since orientation I have been quite busy with school and activities (activities that most often relate to River Stewards). During an interview I recently had I was asked what extracurricular activity I was most involved in. My response was River Stewards, but my response did not end there. I explained further that you never really stop being a River Steward, no matter where you are or what you are doing. You are always a River Steward - not just by title, but by actions. Since becoming part of this community I have shared my river and Dayton knowledge with many. My roommates and friends are probably sick of hearing about the awesome Valley Buried Aquifer. Don’t fret! They all know that Dayton tap water is very good, and that it is an important resource! Not only have I shared my knowledge with all my friends, I have also shared my knowledge with many non-acquaintances. From people on campus who did not know of the River Steward program, to people not part of the campus community I met while doing service, I have found many ways to talk about River Stewards, or the great things Dayton has to offer, or both. If I have a conversation with someone it is likely that I will find a way to bring up River Stewards, and what I do as a Steward.

I am really enjoying being an engaged member of the community I am a part of here in Dayton. I am excited to continue to meet more awesome people, and to have more incredible experiences. I did not realize how close-knit the River Steward program would be! It is a group of great people that offer help without even blinking an eye. The support, the community, and the experience are all something that I will never want to trade, and I do not think I ever will. So here’s to an exciting and awesome future as a River Steward!

River Love,


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

RiverMobile Exterior in Production!

The RiverMobile's exterior wrap is being printed.  Soon it will be put onto the trailer and all those drawings of the trailer will come to life!  Stay tuned for more updates! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pictures of Orientation on Facebook

Sorry for the delay, but some new orientation photos have been added to Facebook!

It was a wonderful week of bonding, learning and paddling!
River Steward Orientation 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

River Stewards work with Basia to carve local ice books

Take a look at Andrew Kowalski working in ArtStreet with Basia!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Plant Diversity and Our Rivers

Brother Don Geiger has written about the role our rivers play in plant below!   This is great insight as we launch the ice books this Friday.

Rivers Contribute to Increased Floodplain Plant Diversity

The environmental preservation group, Oxbow Incorporated, has used purchase and easements to protect considerable area of native habitat. The land is now known as the Oxbow. This natural area is located at the site where the Whitewater River empties into the Great Miami River. The 5,400 square-mile Great Miami River Watershed drains land in Ohio and a small area of Indiana and empties into the Ohio River at the Oxbow. Over the years, Dr. Denis Conover of the University of Cincinnati and I have spent considerable time searching out and identifying plants in the floodplains of the Oxbow. We have found an amazing variety of native plants, some of them rare state-listed species, on these floodplains. Our observations demonstrate that seeds from populations of plants in the watershed provide an important source for the great diversity of plant populations in downstream habitats.

The Ice Book Project helps demonstrates the importance of rivers in enriching plant populations in a watershed. The floating books are a visual prompt to increase our awareness of how rivers enable plants to distribute seeds over much larger areas that wind and animals can spread them. Mobility of seeds has become much more important by the shifting environments caused by global climate change. Land based transport is realistically limited to less than a mile per year. The river route has the potential of much longer transport that can enable a species to arrive at a more suitable habitat as the climate shits.

Don Geiger
Marianist Environmental Education Center

Basia Irland Impacts River Stewards

In a wonderful collaboration between the University of Dayton and Antioch College, the River Stewards have been given the opportunity to work with Basia Irland.  Her ice books are not only a beautiful demonstration of eco-art, but have helped the Stewards consider the health of our rivers and connect to the sheer beauty of being in nature. 

See the link to Susan Byrnes' story on Public Radio WYSO.

This Friday, September 14th will be an ice book launch using native plant seeds.  You may join in a cycle or walk from ArtStreet at 3pm to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park at Stewart and Patterson.  At 4pm the ice books will be launched into the river. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Summer in Dayton with the Rivers Institute....

Today I was walking up the stairs to Zehler to stop in and see the
lovely Bethany Renner, and as I was walking up the stairs, I was
having flashbacks on the incredible summer that I spent working for
the Rivers Institute. I was part of an incredible summer team that
successfully completed many tasks including planning the steward
orientation, developing the River Leadership Curriculum, and running
summer programs for hundreds of people from preschoolers to adults. We
all had our own specific tasks, but we really worked as a team. We had
some great bonding moments, a lot of learning experiences, and
developed new skills. I could write hundreds of blogs about my summer,
but I will just try to hit the highlights.

My favorite programs out of the summer were our programs with
Daybreak. We did two programs with the Daybreak shelter, and I felt
like we really had the opportunity to see transformation right before
our eyes. Both groups kayaked in the Blue Hole at Eastwood metropark,
and both groups had a good time. After kayaking, the group headed over
to the lagoon for some art projects by the river. The first group
painted picture frames representing their past, present, and future,
and the second group painted old records to resemble the album of
their life or their theme song. Obviously both of these activities
were not directly tied to the river, but the students were sitting in
the shelter house next to the river and reflecting on their life. The
art projects turned out to be very powerful and emotional works of
art, so we managed to run an eco-retreat with these students. In the
closing discussions with both groups students shared about how they
learned to trust each other when they were out on the water. They said
they learned how to encourage and support each other. They said they
felt like they were closer after having that experience. Many of them
also shared how much they want to connect with nature more and kayak
again. The best thing about the program was just seeing the students
come in with fears, frustrations, and negativity but leave excited,
inspired, and calm. It was really an incredible program.

Another great group was the Dayton Jewish Community Center teachers.
The very first program of the summer was for the teachers of this
preschool, and the goal of the program was to inspire them as they
begin developing nature trails on their property. For that program,
the teachers spent time kayaking the lagoon, discussed some readings
about children losing nature, and also tried out some water education
activities. Similar to Daybreak, some of the teachers came in very
hesitant, scared, and negative, but we watched them all leave
completely inspired to make the most of their nature trails. They were
all like little kids leaving the playground! It was a fun program and
challenged the group because it was two days into our summer.

Other programs we did included: All ages at Adventure Central, St.
Albert's youth group, Peru and Argentina Marianist high school
students, YMCA boys camp, and many others. I think you can determine
that I had a great summer just based on the length of this blog! So in
conclusion, I have found that my summer internship has really prepared
me as a future science teacher because I am extremely comfortable
teaching all ages, I am confident in my ability to trouble-shoot and
manage groups, and I learned how to work as a team. I am so thankful
to have spent my summer here on campus working for the Rivers
Institute with Leslie King, Bethany Renner, Alex Galluzzo, Jill Pajka,
Andrew Kowalski, Anthony Whaley, and Taylor Pair. For the first time
ever, I was not disappointed that I did not go abroad because I would
not have wanted to be anywhere but Dayton for the summer.

Amy Price

Paddling with the President's Council!

On Friday, August 24, the Rivers Institute had the great pleasure of
taking the President and members of his council out for their first
ever kayak trip in Dayton! We had scheduled this trip for earlier this
summer, but it was oh so very sadly cancelled. Luckily, we were able
to reschedule the paddle, and it was awesome! I honestly think that
trip was the highlight of my college career! We took the group for a
very short trip from White Water Warehouse down to Riverscape, which
is about a 20 minute trip. Thanks to some strategic planning and
blessings from above, we paddled up to Riverscape just as the
fountains started going off. Several people in the group were really
not too keen on the idea of paddling through the massive fountains
with frigid water coming out, but needless to say, everybody came out
of the fountains soaked. Every person in the group kayaked through the
fountains and loved every minute of it! I have always loved going
through the fountains, but this time it was particularly special
because I took President Curran around every single fountain! Dr.
Curran is such a fun guy, so when I said, "Who wants to round the
bases and go through every fountain?" he responded with, "After you!"
It was seriously awesome. After getting thoroughly soaked, we all
rafted up and discussed the future of the city of Dayton and the
potential for UD to have a river-front campus.

In my years here at UD, we have been dramatically expanding our
campus, so we now have property all the way out to the Great Miami
River. We also own Old River Park, which has a lagoon that was
formerly part of the river. Obviously, the Rivers Institute would love
to have access to the river right from our own campus, but we also
think it would be hugely popular among the students for a variety of
reasons. There are many pieces of this puzzle coming into play, but we
are hoping to make UD a school that prides itself on its connection to
nature, recreation, and most importantly our rivers. While yes we only
took Dr. Curran on a short trip down the river, in that short trip he
saw and experienced what the stewards see and experience every time we
get in a boat. We are fairly confident that he sees the potential UD
has as a river-front campus.

Amy Price

Senior River Steward

Friday, August 24, 2012

Water Bottles for All!

The Seniors prestented water bottles to the class of 2016!   The City of Dayton Water Department collaborated with the cohort. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

River Steward Orientation 2012

The summer is growing old, school is going to resume soon, but somewhere the water is stirring..

The week of Aug. 12, as the three River Steward cohorts arrived and began to spill out of their bus at Taylorsville dam, rendezvousing with community partners as part of the 2012 Orientation, they were introduced to a special guest, Basia Irland. Basia is an incredible environmental artist who has done work all across the globe. She even has her own website! Just Google her

Basia, certainly captivated her eager audience with two main ideas, the first was the "sound poem". As apart of the sound poem project, Basia challenged the River Stewards to listen--with a close ear--to all the sounds of the river as they prepared to make the 17 mile journey to Sunwatch Indian Village. Basia prompted the River Stewards to be prepared to create a "sound poem" at the conclusion of the first day's kayaking. She wanted the student to create a musical piece to reflect the days adventure on the river. And that is exactly what they did! See the link below.

The second thing that Basia shared with the group was the idea of an Ice book. Basia invented the Ice book as a way to reseed riverbanks suffering from erosion. To create an Ice Book, a block of ice (made of river water, and chiseled into the shape of a book) is lased with native seeds and sent floating down the river with the intention of reseeding the banks and raising awareness about climate change/global warming (get it? the ice is melting..). 

This September, Basia plans to return to Dayton to let loose Ice Books with the help of the community. So join the anxiously awaiting River Stewards in anticipating her arrival! The date of the launch is sept, 14th, a bike/walk parade from ArtStreet starts at 3pm, then we will release the books below Steward St. bridge at 4pm. Earlier that week, there will be opportunities for student to attend workshop and lectures on campus.

To listen to a musical collage rendered by the River Stewards, recorded by Susan Byrnes and Dennie Eagleson, and inspired by Basia Irland during Orientation 2012 check out the following link!

Also, to see pictures on the Art Street Blog from Basia's time with the River Stewards during orientation, see the link below:


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Just How Important is the River?

Some people look to the river for their favorite fishing spot. Some people like to swim or tube in the river. Other people use the river for canoeing. I've even seen people kayaking in a river! But this summer, I discovered a new appreciation for a river and what it can do for a community. Other than the recreational activities already mentioned, I used a river to charge a phone, to watch the Olympics, and even to read a book. I used the river for electricity. 

Let me explain. In Malawi, Africa--the place where I spent my summer--the entire country runs off of hydro-electric power! No coal, no gas, no wind, just the river. There are several reasons why this is cool. One, it's cool because there is no waste created in the process of creating electricity for the 14 million people of Malawi. Two, it's cool because Malawi doesn't have to rely on other countries for resources for electricity. Three, it's cool because there are no mines to be dug or nuclear stacks to build. Four, it's cool because once the hydro-plant is built, there are no resources to needed to fuel the plant, the water just flows. 

This is basically how it works: Water is diverted by a pipe from a swift moving river and is funneled to the plant where the water churns turbines quickly enough to create electricity which is then sent through electric lines across the nation. The water, once pushed through the turbine is then released downstream via an outlet pipe. There are, however, a few drawbacks, at least in Malawi. The most significant is that the hydro-electric plants do not create enough electricity for the entire nation all at once. As a result, we frequently experienced black outs. But, blackouts and all, I am thoroughly impressed with the power that the river holds, and hope that we can continue to see the value of our rivers.

A picture of me in Lake Malawi

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Monday, May 14, 2012

Connie and Anthony's Trip to Bethlehem Farm

For us two River Stewards, the previous week has been filled with great adventure and new experiences.  Together, along with three other students from UD, we traveled all the way to Bethlehem Farm in Pence Springs, West Virginia.  Over our week-long stay we immersed ourselves in their environmentally conscious lifestyle.   Bethlehem Farm is a sustainably run homestead that is the base for a small charity-driven home repair program.  The caretakers tend to chickens, donkeys, a horse, a pig, and a plethora of produce to sustain their lifestyle.  A while back, the caretakers expressed interest in having volunteers from the ETHOS Program build a passive solar high tunnel on their property.  This would allow them extend their growing season so fresh produce could be provided even in the winter. For this purpose we spent the week in service at Bethlehem Farm.

After a week of stress from finals and poor eating habits Bethlehem Farm was the perfect place to recover.  Every meal was organic, delicious and purchased locally from neighboring farmers.  All the meat was humanely slaughtered and raised.  Sustainability practices were encouraged from the beginning to the end.  In some of the restrooms they use sawdust toilets for the brave few and rigorously practiced the slogan "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down" procedure.  The human waste from the sawdust toilets is used to fertilize the gardens after it has naturally decomposed in their holding pins, then the gardens provide fresh vegetables and seasonings for every meal.  They also compost their food waste, as well as any organic waste from their farm.  We were additionally asked to limit the amount of showers we took to two per week and one of the showers we took had to be an outdoor 5 gallon bucket shower.  Initially, showering outside seemed like a frightening cold option, but after trying it, both of us decided to take all of our showers that week in the outdoor bucket shower.  Every morning we were asked to help out with farm chores where we helped feed the animals, collect eggs, weed the gardens, and plant new vegetables.  Assimilating into this sustainable lifestyle inspired us both continue our interest in finding ways to limit our environmental impact away on campus.

The greatest realization we made was that sustainable living isn't only about making sure we recycle our waste, it is also about limiting overall trash.  This means that we need to purchase less plastic, and only throw away unusable materials.  Limiting energy consumption is also a necessary part of sustainable living.  This can be any form from unplugging unused appliances to buying items that are locally made to supporting businesses that use sustainable practices.  Overall, the best way to minimize your total environmental impact is not to simply recycle or compost once in a while but to make small alterations to your entire lifestyle.  It's easy to act sustainably, it simply requires a new mindset.

Happily and sustainably yours,

Connie & Anthony

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

White Lick Creek, Avon IN

Hello all!

Yesterday my dad and I canoed along the small creek that runs in the back of my neighborhood. We put in at a park just up the road from where I live and paddled down stream about 17 miles, maneuvering our way around rocks and fallen trees. Endorsing the average speeds recorded by paddlers online, my dad predicted we would complete the stretch in just over an hour. I wagered closer to 3 hours as my own experience with this portion of the creek suggested a lengthier duration of travel.

Fortunately, the creek water was high and healthy from a recent rain and the rushing current facilitated our journey over boulders and rocks.

Nonetheless, we endured a somewhat painful learning curve at least initially.
Unlike the Mad River in Dayton, White Lick Creek is narrow and windy and in some places, covered with overhanging limbs and brush, making for a tricky paddle.

But even as I accidentally (but secretly on purpose) steered us under tree trunks, there was no harm done.

For the record we saw 1 beaver, 3 herons, 5 mallards, 3 hens, and 1 family of ducks.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Watershed Map

Just thought I'd share this.. 

I live in northern Hancock county, thus in the Blanchard River Watershed. 
Hope it isn't too small a picture.

-Alexander S. Gaskins

Its Own Agenda

What do Cincinnati, OH, North Bend, OH, Wellsville, OH, Mt. Vernon, IN, and Evansville, IN have in common?
Well, if you must know, these are just a few terminals (a facility where oil products are stored in large tanks until ready to be transported by truck to fueling stations) run by Marathon Petroleum Company (MPC) along the Ohio River. Though pipelines are a large contributor to the transport of crude oil products, the rivers are HUGE. In addition to the terminals listed above, MPC utilizes rivers like the Licking, Niagara, and Mississippi to move their valuable products. As an engineering co-op for MPC this semester, I was able to witness the importance of the rivers to this largely successful oil company.
Tasked with several dock inspection projects, I was called to work in conjunction with a variety of contractors to coordinate inspections of MPC docks along the rivers. The idea of a dock inspection is rather simple, swim around in the water and see if there are any holes in the float (a water vessel that barges align with in order to pump product to the storage tanks in the terminal). However, these simple inspections became quite the project when considering the river.
The river always seems to have a life and mind of its own, its own agenda. When it rains, the river swells and its swift current can cause major problems for the docks. Just this spring, I was on site for a “high water barge guide” project. In essence, the river had become such a severe factor in the operations of this dock facility that a week’s worth of construction was needed to install a system to help keep the float secure as the river rose with spring rain. Being one site for this project reminded me of how watersheds work. Many days, I would watch from the hydrograph on my computer, as rain in Cincinnati, OH would trickle into the Ohio River, rush down to hook up with the Mississippi, and then slide on down to the gulf—river levels rising all the way.
All I could do was laugh in amazement as I postponed yet another dock inspection…

To the people of the River,
Alexander S. Gaskins

Friday, April 20, 2012

Welcome New Baby Stews!!

Ciao Everyone!

I hope everyone's semester is going well. I look forward to meeting the new baby stews in the fall. Congratulations to everyone who was accepted!

Over the semester I have spent a lot of time surrounding myself around Rivers and bodies of water in Europe; especially the Tiber River. The Tiber runs through the center of Rome and is covered by beautiful bridges.

During my time in Rome the Tiber River's impact on me has been mostly aesthetic. Along both sides of the river there is a large path for walking, running or biking. During the day there are many people outside along the river enjoying the natural resource.

Influenced by the senior river stews, I bought a bike within the first few weeks of my trip. The Tiber has become my getaway place to bike or walk with a friend. Italians spend their afternoons lounging in the sun along the Tiber enjoying each others company; it is a wonderful sight to see so many people outside biking and sitting taking in the Rivers beauty.

A exciting thing done on the Tiber in Rome is every New Years there are a few locals who jump in the river off of a bridge to celebrate the New Year with a Splash.

I look forward to bringing my experiences back with me and making Dayton's Rivers become a getaway place for others and showing them how amazing natural resources can be. I can't wait to get back to Dayton for a paddle and see my River Steward family. I miss you all and am excited to catch up with the River.

River Love,

Friday, April 13, 2012

this is what happens when you keep stewards away from the water for too long...

the 2014 cohort went to the Huffman Dam for mini course today, the first time we'd been out near the river in a while.

and we basically attacked it.

with a spirit of adventure, of course. :)

it was nice to just be out on the dam, overlooking the mad river, being five again and throwing stones and sticks in, and seeing the amazing flood protection that was implemented so long ago by some very important men with mustaches, rebuilding a new post-flood Dayton. at least that's what they look like in the pictures.

we eventually ventured down from the top of the dam to the river banks and flood plains behind it. we got our feet wet, explored the flood plains with all their pretty purple and yellow flowers, and even found a few golf balls in the water. the water was pretty cold, but that certainly didn't stop us. we could see the natural meanders of the mad river, pretty and healthy! ashley and joe even found an old barn/shed-type building with a trough inside! we came away from the river, some of us a little worse for wear, but at least i can say it was worth falling over in the river and getting soaked. :)

and on the way back, we got some pre-dinner snacks and sang in the van!

all in all, a great day with the river steward family.

much river love,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Last Wednesday, some of the River Stewards were given the opportunity to visit East End Community Center to present to an after school program there. After weeks of planning and rescheduling, 7 Stews from the 2014 cohort piled into the van and headed to East End. The group of about 25 students greeted us with enthusiasm and excitement to hear from college students about the aquifer and the City of Dayton.

We began by introducing ourselves to the kids, telling them a little bit about what we did in River Stewards, and giving them an overview of what we were going to talk about while we were there. After the introductions, we jumped right into our activities for the afternoon. First on the list was the gallon game. We split the group into five teams and had them guess how many gallons of water were required for everyday activities such as brushing teeth, washing clothes, taking a shower, etc. For the most part, most of the students had a good sense of how much water was necessary for each daily activity. Next, we built an aquifer model in a fish tank using sand, rocks, clay, felt, and water. Just as in the last activity, we wanted to gain a sense of how much they already knew about aquifers. Some students had a broken understanding of what they were, others had no clue. When asked what an aquifer was, we received answers such as "something that lives underground," "an underwater animal," "a kind of river," and "a big filter." We then explained to them in more detail what exactly aquifers are, why they are beneficial, and how Dayton has the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer. We also showed them how pollution affects the aquifer and our rivers by using food coloring to “pollute” the model. All of the students enthusiastically participated in the demonstration and had great questions to ask.

To reiterate everything we had just discussed, we built another aquifer model. But rather than using rocks, we used ice cream. Each student built their own model and as we gave them each layer, they told us what they thought it represented. This was definitely their favorite part of our presentation. After they were finished with their ice cream and the sugar-rush kicked in, it was a bit more difficult to keep them interested in the last activities, but with some patience, the interactive timeline and map of Dayton wrapped up the program.

It was a great experience working with the kids at East End. We all enjoyed listening to their questions, watching their understanding of their surroundings grow, and sharing our love for our environment.

River Love,

Monday, March 19, 2012

Greening of the Campus IX: Building Pedagogy, Day 1

This is the first in a series of three blogs recording my experience at the Ball State University conference on sustainability and higher education, The Greening of the Campus IX: Building Pedagogy.

I arrived in Muncie, IN at 2:00am on Monday morning and after a restless attempt for sleep, I began my journey into the world of sustainability and higher education with a 7:00am walk to the Student Center. After registering and appropriately being given the paperless conference proceedings on a USB flash drive, I found myself in the Cardinal Room, full of about one hundred and fifty unfamiliar faces; needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed. I inconspicuously settled in the back of the room, and after a quick breakfast, the day’s events began. A welcome by Terry King, the university’s provost, was followed by an introduction by the conference chair, Robert Koester, of the morning’s keynote speaker, the great sustainability innovator and leader David Orr. I had read about Orr’s efforts, especially his leadership and vision key to the Lewis Center at Oberlin College, in his article for Bartlett and Chase’s 2004 book, Sustainability on Campus. Orr and Oberlin College are both at the forefront of utilizing the college campus as an engine of change for sustainability and have embraced the importance of higher educational institutions as the drivers of sustainability in society through a systems-based, collaborative, and locally and regionally inclusive model.

Orr’s presentation was entitled The Thin White Line: Denial in an Age of Consequences. The underlying call to action instilled within the talk was the idea that the community of sustainability organizers does not have a climate problem, but rather a political problem. An underlying aspect of the movement us that it is very deliberately apolitical. We should not only break down the academic silos on our campuses, but also those we have constructed within the political arena stated Orr. The current situation overall displays an increase in the operational sustainability of colleges and universities but it is not reflected within the curriculum. Orr went on to explain how the movement for sustainability lacked the feeling of a crisis, similar to the natural response to a perceived threat like the Soviet Union during the Cold War or the fear of being involved in a car accident.

So why have we not acted when the imminent consequence of this situation is the end of society and our way of life? We are not wired to react to these situations. We are wired to react to perceived threats and crises like airplane crashes and bear attacks, rather than systemic dilemmas that are displayed in a language of data, pixels, parts per million, parts per billion and so forth... Orr continued to explore the history of US environmental politics, including the Republican-Democratic consensus that occurred from 1969 to 1976 and was marked by a series of comprehensive environmental legislation. However, in 1971 with the Lewis-Powell Memo and the later appointment of Lewis F. Powell to the Supreme Court, corporate power shifted he political spectrum far towards the right with the ‘left’ now being represented by moderate, as described in Hacker and Pierson’s 2006 book, Off Center.

Orr later describes his Oberlin Project, an inclusive community project by the College to engage the town of Oberlin through a systems-based sustainable plan “to revitalize the local economy, eliminate carbon emissions, restore local agriculture, food supply and forestry, and create a new, sustainable base for economic and community development.” I was struck by how similar the Oberlin Project model was to the Fitz Center’s approach to community asset-based development, but through the deliberate philosophy of sustainability integrated into the functions and forms of the project. This insight was furthered by one of Orr’s closing remarks, addressing one of the main challenges of the sustainability movement; making sustainability a human issue, broadened to everyone. Trying to use the rational thinking approach and taking it down to the average American down at Wal-Mart is not the means for change. It must be based upon human feeling and the data, though extensive and undeniable, is not enough.

Orr ended by citing the need to secede our allegiance to the corporation, reclaim our primary identity as citizens, engage ourselves in politics, media and agribusiness (areas that are dominated by corporate control), support private ownership, and acknowledge that a bottom-up approach will only work to provide the solutions to our issues of the environment, economy, and communities. “We can either keep the party going a little longer and fry the planet, or we can take the economic hit, recover, readjust, generate innovative solutions, and continue on.”

Invigorated by David’s vision, I eagerly went off to my first panel discussion, led by Chrissy Cooley of Pacific Lutheran University; the panel was entitled Bottled Water Bans on Campus: No Excuses. I had been awaiting this panel since I saw it in the program over a month ago. This panel would provide great examples and benchmarks for our senior project, as well as provide networking opportunities with other colleges and universities that have successfully accomplished our intended goal of some form of a ban on institutional sales of bottled water. I was surprised how interactive the panel was. It began with a presentation of PLU’s narrative of their bottled water ban.

Their success lay within their approach and focus for the reasoning communicated among students why the issue of bottled water was so important. They took a social justice approach to the issue, combining the student dichotomy of environmentally focused activism with social justice focused activism. By bridging the effort between the two groups, the initiative was able to build a student consensus. Even though it was labeled as a ‘ban’ it did not have the negative connotations we perceived a ‘ban’ would have. As in most examples of kicking bottled water off of campus, dining services was a vital partner in the conversation and implementation.

The ban took the form of a student government resolution ceasing the sale of bottled water by dining services. Like our senior project, the availability of hydration stations and reusable water bottles were imperative aspects for the success of the ban. PLU institutes a student green fee, a tuition fee approved by students to specifically be applied to sustainable projects under the discretion of the campus’ sustainability office. The sustainability office used the fee to purchase reusable BPA-free water bottles through a local Seattle company and sold them to students at a subsidized price of $1. The water bottles featured PLU’s Take Back the Tap logo, and if I do say so myself, were very well designed. The green fee was also used to retotfit drinking fountains into hydration stations, using gooseneck faucets and the more high-tech sensor filling stations, like the one in the basement of KU by the main staircase.

After comparing the PLU story with the University of Ottawa’s and Washington University in St. Louis’, we were asked to share our own experiences and current situation. There was a broad range of students, staff, and faculty, from institutions that had already successfully implemented bans to others who had not even thought of bottled water as a real issue. I shared the background of the River Steward program, our Senior Project, as well as acting as an ambassador for the Great Miami Watershed, informing my fellow panel members about the unique water resources of the Dayton region, as well as the internationally renown Miami Conservancy District. I was also able to pass around print materials provided by Felicia Graham of the City of Dayton Water Department as an example of collaboration extending beyond campus and into the community.

The students from Atlanta were very interested in using the information and connecting with their own city’s water initiatives. I even jokingly mentioned that if their water situation gets too desperate, they can come up to Dayton and bring NCR back with them. (They can leave Coca-Cola behind though). After benchmarking our project with other institutions it is easy to say we have a lot of work ahead of us, but that it is possible, and that we are going about our ‘ban’ via a positive and collaborative approach to consensus building.

Well, its just before lunch and there is much more to the day. I hope to recap the rest of today in greater detail after the conference is over, as well as expand upon the bottled water ban panel discussion. Also, tomorrow’s post will include highlights of the day so that I can encapsulate the entire day’s events within the post.


I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. - Martin Luther King Jr.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Enlightening the Youth of America

Hey all,

Over the University's "spring break" I was privileged enough to be given the opportunity to return to my high school in Ironton, OH to to carry out a segment on Caring for God's Creation with the 7-12 grade Religion Classes. Luckily, my mother is the religion teacher and she allowed me free reign so long as I tied it back to stewardship...aka River Stewards.

Prior to my arrival the students completed a worksheet dealing with their watershed and a preview into water stewardship; they also watched Blue Gold: World Water Wars. This gave them a general sense of a discussion into water resources (as well as scared them a bit). Then, I helped them map where our town obtains its water, how our society cleans our water, why we clean our water, and how the energy is generated. By the end of the discussion, the students were generally confused. Then, they had their "Eureka moment" where they realized, "This system doesn't work."

I also threw in some sustainability facts into the discussion. Mainly, I gave them a worksheet tracking their habits on conserving water, waste, energy, and general environmentally friendly habits. I enjoyed seeing them understand how their habits affected them in other parts of their lives. At the end of the session, I challenge them to choose one habit from each section and to work all month on changing that particular habit. My mother is following up with them in the coming weeks to see if any of their habits have been altered as a result of this.

Overall, this experience was priceless and I look forward to interacting with more students in the future. I believe that by exposing my generation and the generation below me to issues that deal with building a sustainable future, then we will witness great change in our lifetime.

With River Love,

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What it is so great about being a River Steward? By Zack Valigosky

This past Friday, in our mini course, we watched Blue Gold: World Waters. This was a very good documentary about the depletion of the world's water resources. Anyone could watch this documentary on their own, and think to themselves, "Wow! This is a real issue that I need to address!" But that one person may find difficulty in having a noticeable effect in their community. What if there was a group of 15 to 17 people who had also watched this documentary and had similar opinions to yours on how to address this issue? That group is River Stewards and through this group, my cohort is able to tackle any issue head-on. If we wanted to address the overuse of water on our campus, we can. Would that single person who watched the documentary be able to do this? Maybe, but I could imagine it would be challenging. The same goes for other issues too. If my cohort wanted to address the issue of impermeable surfaces on campus, we can. If we wanted to address the issue of renewable energy sources on campus we can. Before River Stewards I could not even dream about the possibilities that the Rivers Institute can offer to students who want to address issues of sustainability, energy, environment, and stewardship. I am very excited to see what we can accomplish with the opportunity we have been given.