The New York Geographic Alliance co-sponsored two very nice workshops as part of our NOAA/National Geographic Grant for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative. The first was in May 2013, and we partnered with the Cortland Teacher Center. The second was held at the Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne, NY on June 25th. Our cosponsor was the Friends of Rogers Center, under the leadership of Simon Solomon.
Presenting at these workshops were Katri Mallory, Stephen Vermette, Tim McDonnell, Jennifer Markham, and Susan Hoskins. All the participants received great resources, including maps, training manuals, flash drives with lessons. We are currently designing maps and GIS resources, and they will be sent out to all teachers trained during this initiative. The participating teachers tried out some of the lessons, including using a watershed model, interpreting maps and aerial photographs of the region, fish painting, water quality testing. They were exposed to two great resources. The first is our very own (and very unique) Aquanaut Kits, produced by Prof. Stephen Vermette of Buffalo College. We all tried them out at the two workshops. At the Rogers workshop, the group went down to the Chenango River to do the testing (dissolved oxygen, nitrates, benthic organisms, stream clarity, etc.). Our second resource is the FieldScope website, designed for eduators by the National Geographic Society. This allows teachers and their students to examine the watersheds of both the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River. Both of these watersheds originate in New York State. We are pleased to announce that the water quality of the Chenango River is good, at least in Sherburne, NY. (Actually, it does have one BIG problem. The E.Coli test was very positive as shown below. This means the way is not safe for drinking or swimming).
Rexford Falls near Sherburne, NY- one the tributaries of the Chenango River; E. Coli sample from the river. Blue dots are E. Coli cultures.
We have major plans for the second year of this project. We want to train more teachers! Katri Mallory and Jennifer Markham are putting together an online version of our workshop that will be available to everyone (probably in August). We will announce through a newsletter when this resource is available. The NYGA also will be working with the other Chesapeake states to put out a more advanced online course. This will be produced through National Geographic. To complement this effort, teachers who have had training will come together for a second training experience at the Rogers Center, probably in November.
Finally, we are pleased to announce that teachers who have completed our training on watersheds (face to face or online) will be eligible for funding to support student trips study their local environment. We realize that strapped school budgets have cut back these opportunities, and we want to fill the gap. If you have been trained already, contact Tim McDonnell, and he will send you an application form. Just let him know what you would like to do. NYGA wants students outdoors, whenever possible, because geography is not for couch potatoes.
More resources will be made available through this grant. Expect more updates before school resumes in the fall.