Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Steward's Yellow Springs Experience

    On March 11th, the 2017 River Steward Cohort visited YSI Incorporated in Yellow Springs, Ohio. YSI is a developer and manufacturer of sensors, instruments, software, and data collection platforms for environmental water quality monitoring and testing. Many of the products that YSI creates are the same sensors and instruments that many of the engineering and life science stewards use in labs at UD! YSI reaches back to 1948 when a three-man partnership was forged at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Over the years, YSI has partnered with many other similar businesses, but most recently with the larger company Xylem, making YSI “a Xylem brand.” YSI is a very unique corporation and they work with businesses and scientists all over the world. They explained to us that they never know who they may get a call from, whether that be a call from the Ohio EPA or a PhD student in China.

   The 2017 Cohort began their visit with a presentation from some engineers, scientists, and the marketing team at YSI. We learned that it takes people from all types of professions to run YSI. Then we received a tour of the YSI campus. We got to see engineers at work as they build new products. The engineers even demonstrated a few of the different products to us and showed us how they are built. We ended our tour in the research and development building where we got to see how YSI tests their new products before they are sold to the public.

Charlotte Shade
2017 Cohort

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Creek Day from Anna's Perspective

Cultivating Care for the Creek: 2016 Capstone
Junior Year we sat in Zehler. Out of the sticky sun, at the table, we brainstormed. We tossed ideas like we toss rubber ducks on the river. As family now, we argued. We procrastinated. We watched youtube videos and ate GFS pb&j’s. We covered white boards with possibilities. Reached few conclusions. Then realized why we’re together, what we care about, what we want out of our project: environmental education. With that shared interest, we ran.
We partnered with Edison Elementary School. Twin Creek runs parallel to the school. We identified the water source as an asset to both the school and the neighborhood. We hoped to instill in the students a connection, ownership, and responsibility for the creek.
Through conversation with the NSC coordinator and the teachers, we learned that, firstly, the students needed extra academic support. We started after-school math and science tutoring, fostering relationships with both students and teachers. We developed lesson plans for environmental curriculum. We built these lesson plans into a three hour program, Creek Day.
Friday, March 4th, Creek Day commenced. Six stations, two 7th grade classes, eighteen blue shirts.
Dan headed the watershed station. Shout out to MCD for letting us borrow the watershed model.

Matt shared his nature knowledge. He taught about trees with crafty books for the students to record what they learned. How neat is that? “You can tell that it’s an aspen tree because the way that it is.”

Tin cans became instruments at Eric’s station. The teams brainstormed about how to reuse materials. One way? Music.

Students relayed for recycling at Danielle’s station. She refereed as they raced down the hall to sort plastics, papers, and cans into their appropriate bins.

The edible aquifers at Maggie’s station provided the sugar rush. Red Kool-Aid represented pollution. The students observed how quickly the Kool-Aid affected the taste and color of their aquifer.

Léa led students through art reflection. They painted aquifers, rivers, and trees onto flowerpots. They wrote words of Dayton pride, peace, and love. Then they dirtied their mittens planting seeds they’ll take home to watch grow into flowers. Personalized reminders of their one-on-one connection with the earth.

Our coll aboration with Edison gave us the opportunity to share our expertise and passion with a new generation of stewards. We were excited and impressed by the students’ genuine interest, energetic participation, and mad talent. We are hugely grateful for the enthusiasm and support of the teachers. Creek Day wouldn’t have been possible without their partnership.
Now we’re dusting off our hands. We’re reflecting on our past three years. We’re hoping our project cultivated a communal care for the creek, for Dayton, and for the environment we all share.
Since when are we seniors?
The river gives, y’all.   
Anna Adami
2016 Cohort

Creek Day from Dan's Perspective

Creek Day was awesome!  At the start of the day, Maggie and her mom-van stopped by our house and picked up a bunch of materials that we needed for the event such as a few tables, a watershed model, and recyclables.  After that, we drove over to Eric’s to pick up his supplies.  We arrived at the school around 10 am and went inside and talked to the teachers.  They were so excited to have us there.  After some logistical conversations about where to put the stations and how to divide up and rotate the groups, we started to unpack Maggie’s van and the River Institute van and started setting up for the event. 


It fits!  Maggie’s van with our supplies

My station was the watershed station.  Here the kids “made it rain” on the plastic watershed model with a spray bottle and pitcher of water to see where the water would go.  Following this, the students sprinkled green sugar cookie crystals all over the model to represent pollution.  After making it rain again, we checked out the water that had drained into our rivers, lakes, and streams.  It was green water, and I showed it to the kids, and they all said “Eeewww” or “That’s gross.”  When I asked them if they would drink it, they always replied with a loud “No!”

Following this, we went over to the large River Mobile map of the US which shows all the rivers in Dayton as well as the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers which drain into the ocean.  Here, we followed the path of water downstream to the ocean, acknowledging how many states these rivers touched along the way.  Many learned which state Arkansas was in addition to the rivers along the way to the ocean.  Then we talked about how if I dropped my infamous empty chip bag on the ground in our watershed, it would flow to the rivers and creeks in Dayton when it rains.  Next, it would flow to the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers all the way to the ocean, affecting all of the fish, animals, plants, birds, people, and communities along the way. 

Finally, we talked about how we can protect our watershed to keep this from happening.  We talked about cleaning up our dogs’ poop in the yard and not washing our cars outside in the driveway.  They mentioned most frequently that not littering and picking up trash would help protect the watershed and the people downstream.  So with this, we had a race to pick up 2-3 pieces of trash on the school property and bring them back to the table.  By the end of the day, we had a full box of trash that was found on the property.  This was one of my favorite parts of the station.  I told them, “Look at all of this trash that we collected.  You’re awesome!  We kept all of this trash out of the river today!”  It was super cool.  I was proud of them.  They were making a real difference in the health of the watershed, the fish and organisms in the river, and us.  That’s pretty cool.  They I asked how long it took us to do this.  1-2 minutes is what they told me.  Here, we learned that spending just a little time and being a little conscious of our actions, we can make a big difference.

It was really fun teaching the kids.  They were very receptive to the information and almost always willing to answer my questions.  They loved “making it rain” on the watershed and laughed every time I said it :) .  I felt like they all learned something that day from this station, whether it was to not litter, or to clean up your dog’s poop, what the AR state is called, or how pollution affects the fish, birds, animals, and us.  I felt like each person took away something.  And that’s what really matters in the end.  If one person learned anything from this, then it was worth it.  And I believe this project was most certainly worth it.  I am pretty proud of our cohort after today.  We came together and really made this happen using all of our different talents, abilities, and interests to create something truly beautiful and awesome.  And I believe that we made an impact on the 7th grade students at Edison Elementary.  Now I think they know a little bit more about protecting the environment and being stewards of our rivers.

Until next time,

River Love,

Dan Striebich

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Steward's In-Depth Look Beneath the Surface

   This past weekend, spring break 2K16, 30 UD students traveled to Williston, Florida.  For the 25 open water SCUBA divers, this was a chance to get SCUBA certified in the sun and the sand. Students in the advanced class got to log many more dives using Nitrox air on their way to their advanced certifications. This is an annual trip for UD SCUBA students and instructors, and this was the largest group in almost fifteen years. They started this tradition 22 years ago, under the leadership of Donn Shade.

   Learning to SCUBA dive was a very unique experience. Telling your brain to breathe while underwater takes some coaxing, and learning how to safety dive and manage the equipment is overwhelming for a beginner’s mind. The class spent four weeks learning in the classroom, covering topics from the underwater environment to health conditions that can arise from diving. We had three pool lessons before the trip, in which we covered things such as regulator retrieval, mask clear, out of air situations, and emergency ascents, skills that we demonstrated in Florida for our certifications.

   The first diving location was Devil’s Den, a sinkhole/underground cave. It is so called named after the pioneers first saw steam rising from the Earth, and mistook the moisture for the breath of the Devil, rather than the warmer water temperatures below. This was a very comfortable place to dive, with a big dock to get into the water, and platforms in which to demonstrate our skills.

   The next day we dove at Blue Grotto. This diving site is much deeper than Devil’s Den, the lower caverns actually stretching down 100 feet. The advanced divers were able to make this dark journey through the use of nitrox air. I went to a max depth of 57 feet, actually sitting on Peace Rock and absorbing my surroundings. It is amazing how quickly colors fade, and I was surrounded by a blues. The water was very clear, until a clumsy diver touched the silty bottom and stirred up the dirt. The mascot of the place is Virgil the Turtle; he is loved by all. It was really cool to see the air bubbles travel up the rock walls and overhang; their quick movements resembling an animal scurrying around.

   Saturday, the open water students got a chance to swim with Manatees, at the only place in the world to allow these types of encounters.

   This trip was a lot of fun, and valuable as I am now an open water SCUBA certified diver. I got a lot more comfortable with diving and learning to handle problems underwater. Experiencing the underwater environment at a deeper depth is really neat, but eerie and unnerving at times. I’m glad I was a part of this diving class and Florida was a great way to spend spring break.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

River Steward in the "Real World"

My name is Megan Guy. I am a part of the 2015 River Steward cohort. My experience in River Stewards has opened doors to many unique opportunities.

   After graduation, I headed to Kenai, Alaska and worked as the Stream Watch Intern for the Kenai Watershed Forum. Each year, the Kenai Watershed Forum partners with the US Forest Service and local agencies to host a volunteer program for the community called Stream Watch.

  In Alaska, salmon fishing is huge. As a result, many people come from near and far to utilize the amazing fishing areas. Consequently, there is a great amount of degradation to the banks of the rivers and natural lands which effects the salmon habitat as well as other wildlife. The goal of the Stream Watch program is to have volunteers as a presence on the highly used fishing rivers during the summer. When out on the rivers, volunteers do a variety of tasks from picking up trash, talking to anglers about fishing regulations, putting up temporary fencing along river banks, erosion control projects, beach clean ups, and collecting fishing line. In 2015, volunteers contributed 1,400 hours on the rivers, spoke to over 5000 anglers, installed over 2 miles of temporary fishing, collected 1,800 lbs. of trash, and collected 150 lbs. of fishing line. These volunteers truly make an impact! This program has been going on for 21 years and continuing to go stronger each year. My position was helping coordinate, recruit, and make a difference with these folks. It was been an experience that I will never forget! A community coming together can make a world of a difference!

   Currently, I am in New Hampshire doing a 10-month Americorps position through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) where I serve as a Conservation Steward. I am a part of a team of 30 passionate individuals who work and live together. We all are 20-25 in age and come from varying backgrounds ranging from theater to finance to the sciences.

   Everyday is an adventure at Bear Brook State Park. We live in community in non-electric cabins and have a lodge with a kitchen, bathrooms, and limited WiFi. We spend most of our time in the lodge reading, playing instruments, playing board games, and doing lesson planning. If we aren't in there, we are out in the park making igloos, having snowball fights, or on hikes.

   We are currently teaching environmental education in the schools. In small groups, we create a 10-week curriculum teaching over 1,000 kids in the Manchester area about our natural world. Once school lets out, we do trail work and assist the state parks in maintaining their recreation areas. This will result in the creation of many shelters, bridges, and new trails by the end of October. 
   So far, it has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences to be a part of this group. I have gained amazing skills in environmental education and team building and there is much much more to come. I'm excited to see what the future has to hold!

   River Stewards has inspired my passion to learn, explore, and protect our natural world. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to explore this passion further through this position!