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,