5,000+ Students Take the Hudson’s Pulse

5,000+ Students Take the Hudson’s Pulse

Photo courtesy Hudson River Reserve.

More than five thousand children from across New York State took to the Hudson River to experience life as a field scientist last week.

It was all part of the annual Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor event, which took place on October 16 at more than 90 sites along 160 miles of the Hudson River Estuary and New York Harbor. Now in its 16th year, the event is coordinated by our Hudson River Reserve and their partners at the Hudson River Estuary Program in the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

Students and educators from New York City and rural communities alike seined for fish, tested the waters with chemistry kits, and measured the tides and currents. Many groups also collected core samples of river bottom mud for analysis.

Students collect scientific information to create snapshots of the river and then share their data via the web so they can better understand how their piece of the river fits into the larger Hudson estuary ecosystem.  Photo courtesy Hudson River Reserve.

For many students, this year’s Day in the Life was their first time exploring their estuary and the creatures that thrive in it. Their outdoor experiences are integrated into classroom learning via targeted programming, curriculum guides, and the use of 15 years of past data collected by students. The students’ data contributes to ongoing research projects and is incorporated into lessons plans that are available to all teachers in the Hudson Valley.

Caption This!

Caption This!

Thanks to the NERRS photographers who submitted 140 photos to NOAA’s Estuaries Week photo contest. Gorgeous, poignant, playful—your photos remind us why we love estuaries and work to protect them.

Many photos left us wondering about the backstory, like the one above. Was it a case of common chivalry? A proposal fit for a NERRd? The latest in hipster outer gear?  Photographer Chris Bowser set us straight. “”This is two high school students from Marble Hill International School in the Bronx. They were part of our “Day in the Life of the Hudson & Harbor” a few years ago. We were at Inwood Park, NYC, studying the estuary. I asked them to get a water sample, and they waded into the water holding hands to support each other.”

Got a few minutes? We’d love to hear the story behind your photo.

Estuaries (and Educators) Without Borders

Estuaries (and Educators) Without Borders

Story by Chris Bowser, Hudson River Reserve. Photos, courtesy of Augusto Menezes.
Ernesto Olivares and I had been talking about a trip to Jobos Bay for more than a year. We were glad to make it happen last month, when I flew down with my friend, photographer Augusto (Gus) Menezes. We even got a chance to see Joan Muller from Waquoit Bay, who was part of the organized volunteer effort!
The next day we were honored to speak to an 8th and 9th grade class at the Colegio Perpetuo Socorro. The students were well behaved and in uniform, but soon opened up with smiles, laughs, and questions.

Ernesto and I took turns describing our two estuaries—manatees in one, sturgeon in the other; mangrove restoration at Jobos; eel monitoring and submerged vegetation planting in the Hudson. We kept the talk lively with a Spanish version of the “High Tide/Low Tide” estuary dance and wrapped up with the song  “Somos El Barco” ( We Are the Boat) in English and Spanish.

The next day we were honored to speak to an 8th and 9th grade class at the Colegio Perpetuo Socorro. The students were well behaved and in uniform, but soon opened up with smiles, laughs, and questions.

Ernesto and I took turns describing our two estuaries—manatees in one, sturgeon in the other; mangrove restoration at Jobos; eel monitoring and submerged vegetation planting in the Hudson. We kept the talk lively with a Spanish version of the “High Tide/Low Tide” estuary dance and wrapped up with the song  “Somos El Barco” ( We Are the Boat) in English and Spanish.

Later,  we rolled up our sleeves and started up some chainsaws. Under Ernesto’s direction, we cleared a section of boardwalk and trails through a stand of black mangroves on the Reserve. (Gus got some great time-lapse video; in fact, Gus got a lot of great footage and pictures from the whole trip. Thanks, Gus!)
The next day was a field program with high school science students from the Centro Residencial de Oportunidades Educativas ve Villalba. We investigated the Camino del Indio site, an area of mangroves, sandy beaches, and sea grass beds that the students have been studying since December 2017. The teachers and kids were wonderful! They spilled out of the bus and immediately started measuring the beach profile, troubleshooting an ROV they had built, and talking to us about how much it meant to be able to tell the world positive stories from Puerto Rico since the hurricane.
We added seining as a sampling component to the student’s monthly research protocol. Two passes in the shallows produced many treasures, including algae, colonial hydroids, two species of jellyfish, a small paddle worm, a tiny green nudibranch, and several species of shrimp and “swimming crabs” related to the Hudson River blue crab.
On our last day Ernesto took us back to San Juan, though we had time for one last get together at the quiet fishing village of Loiza with local proprietor Miguel.
While Puerto Rico is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, physically, logistically, and emotionally, the spirit of resilience and cooperation Gus and I found was truly inspirational. Driving around Jobos Bay with Ernesto was a rolling workshop of community engagement. Aitza and the rest of the staff are truly involved with their community in ways that I am taking to heart and I am going to try to make a part of my own work and attitude in New York.

Wet Feet & Big Smiles at the Hudson River Reserve

Wet Feet & Big Smiles at the Hudson River Reserve

Teachers on the Estuary—readying to explore the Hudson River Reserve and dig into the mud! Photos courtesy of Chris Bowser.
The Hudson River Reserve recently hosted 15 teachers and educators at the Norrie Point Environmental Center for a six-hour workshop focused on climate change education. Educators learned about cutting edge climate research, solved data puzzles using real-time estuary monitoring systems, and measured potential sea level rise at the center.
Educatorsmeasuring future estuary elevations.
The reserve also teamed up with the Department of Education’s Five-Rivers Environmental Center and Estuary Program to deliver a Teachers on the Estuary Program (TOTE) called Wild About Wetlands. Seventeen classroom teachers and educators participated in classroom components centered on the whats, whys, and hows of wetlands, with topics including ecosystem services, biodiversity, and conservation.

Then they took to the field and collected and identified invertebrates from local wetlands, seined for estuary life, and re-planted submerged aquatic vegetation that has been grown in local classrooms. By canoe they explored several types of tidal wetlands, studied marsh ecology and plant life, and were treated to amazing displays of bald eagles and hunting ospreys. They filled out the activities with a wetlands music workshop, a relaxing campfire, professional sharing, and lots of wet feet and big smiles.

Teachers seining and fish ID’g at Nutten Hook at the Hudson River Reserve.

ReservesHudson River, New York