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