Riverguides In Winter

The Riverguides kicked off 2016-2017 with a great first three months! We started off the fall spending every day on the river, first learning how to get our boats on the river and row, and working up to performing a water sampling protocol which involved net tows for plankton and microplastics, water collections for chemical analysis, seining, and land-based trash surveys. We also contributed data to the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, surveying the shores of Palmyra, NJ for mussels. As part of this project we learned how to identify different types of mussels, their roles in aquatic ecosystems, and went through dissections to see aspects of their anatomy. In November, we moved upstream from the Delaware River to one of its tributaries, Tacony Creek. Here we continued our water sampling regimen, and coordinated a cleanup of Tacony Creek with our neighbors, Tookany-Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, a conservation group serving our watershed and community! We also cannot forget about the work we did with the Delaware River City Corporation. Led by their project manager Jim Fries, we continued our work at Lardners Point Park, removing invasive plants while planting some native wetland species and breaking ground on a rain garden to be installed in spring.

In December we shifted our focus indoors to set up for a two-night event showcasing everything we had learned and done over the previous two months. Both our Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday cohorts decided on transforming the whole 2nd floor of the building into a Delaware River ecosystem to provide as close as possible an interactive exhibit. We opened up these exhibits to the community and showed our visitors everything we know about the Delaware River and its health. A popular activity included a guided rowing station combined with a sense of rowing through and among the litter in the river. Our students used this as an opportunity to talk about how litter gets to the river from land, the effects it has on the ecosystem, how they’ve been researching how much is in the water and on its shores, and what each of us can do to prevent litter from entering the river.

This trimester our focus remains for now indoors, and though it may be winter, we are definitely not dormant. We’ve been preparing ourselves to provide science activities and demonstrations that coordinate with middle school science curricula. We will eventually be taking these exhibits into different middle school classrooms to supplement what teachers are already teaching and show how science can be fun! We’re finding ways to link every one of our activities back to the Delaware River, its watershed, and boats, so that come spring we can invite these same students onto the river with us to experience the water up close!