Thursday, October 30, 2014

We Give a Dam

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

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

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

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

Charlotte Shade - 2017 Cohort

Friday, October 24, 2014

River Clean Up

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

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

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

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

Alvin Boyd Newman-Caro

Cohort of 2017

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The 2015 Cohort is Nuttier Than You’d Think!

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

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

Field Trip with Adventure Central

Look at All Those Nuts!

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

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

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

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

Living in the Limelight

I know myself to be a very reflective person, and as a senior I have had lots of time to reflect about my journey at UD.   I find myself always discovering, or entering, new roles.  What roles do I have?  Well, first and foremost I am a student.  This is a role that is essential for my existence at UD, but sometimes it is easy to forget!  I, obviously, also have a role as a River Steward.   Even though I have been a River Steward since my sophomore year I have had many different roles within the program.  In addition to my River Steward roles I also have a role that is new to this year, a role as a Resident Assistant (RA) on campus.  So, why am I rambling about the roles I have on campus?  Well, it is because even though my roles seem different they really are only different on the surface. 

As I see it, one of my River Steward roles is to act as a mentor/leader to younger Stews.  If I stop by a mini-course I should be just as attentive to what is going on, as the younger Stews are.  Right now, while I helping to complete the 2015 Cohort project, I am working with middle school and high school aged students and again, I am playing the role as a mentor/leader.  Now, when I break my River Steward roles down like this it is easy to see how my position as an RA for second year students also falls into this same mentor/leader role category. 

The relationship of my different roles on campus has an even tighter bond then the category that they exist in.  As a River Steward and as an RA I, in many ways, live in a limelight on campus.  The roles I play are very visible and transparent.  I cannot be a leader without being seen, and I cannot be a mentor without opening up about my own experiences.  I embrace this visibility because I think that being conscience of this helps to make me a better person and the way the visibility makes me behave is true to myself.  Sure, ‘living in the limelight’ has its disadvantages too, but I will take the sweat and pressure as long as I continue to see myself grow into new roles and responsibilities.  So, bring on the bright lights, I am here to stay!   

River Love,
2015 Cohort

Thursday, October 16, 2014

River Plunge

September 27th was the first ever River Plunge. In partnership with Center for Social Concern, the River Stewards put on a paddle for UD students with a discussion focus on justice.

Cue perfect weather- mid 70s with yellow sunshine, blue skies, and fall leaves. 

Add a motley group of stews working like cogs in a machine, popping up throughout the day as River Mobile crew, lunch crew, boat crew, dinner crew, music crew. Mix in a great group of UD kids- different majors, different years, different interests. Put all these incredibly cool people outside, on the river, together. Let the magic happen. 

Celebrate Dayton's resources. Talk about the problems, too. Play outside. 

Leave the day feeling refreshed. Understand Dayton’s watershed a little differently. Understand how we’re all connected: people, animals, water, Earth. The environment is not only something we enjoy, but something that sustains us. Something we must appreciate, love, respect, and take care of.