Friday, May 30, 2014

May Wrap Up

May is drawing to a close and I realize that this is the first (and only) blog post for the month. It’s been a busy month with most weeks full of a variety of activities that demanded my attention and kept me out of the office. However, I didn't want to end the month without highlighting a few of the things that occurred, so here they are.
 Several weeks in April and May saw me helping with science field days around Wenatchee. First was a 5th grade shrub steppe experience, next a similar experience for 1st graders, after that a kindergarten walk, and finally at the end of the month a 4th grade science day revolving around fish and hydroelectric power. That seems like a lot, but for the most part I really enjoyed all of it. I helped with plant identification and counting, native wildlife, ecosystems, and fish statistics. It was good that I had a presence there, both as an Americorps member and as a representative of Cascadia. Cascadia has an effect, both directly and indirectly, on many of these ecosystems through their work in conservation and restoration. It’s helpful to be able to introduce the kids to the ideas of natural ecosystems and the organizations that are involved with preserving them.
May’s next event was Kids in the Creek (KITC). KITC is a program put on by Cascadia in partnership with the US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Forest Service, along with many others. The program is designed to get young high school students hands on science through a variety of stations. Half of the stations are ‘dry’ and include: water quality, fish health, and riparian vegetation. The other half are ‘wet’ stations. Requiring the students to don waders and get in the creek (hence the Kids in the Creek). These stations include: invertebrate investigation, stream health, and flow. KITC occurred in early May and brought roughly 300 students through the 3 day program. The overall goal is to connect the classroom science with real-life experiences, showing students that science is not just boring class time.
The third week of May I was out of the office driving halfway across the county to Minnesota to canoe for a week, and then driving back to Washington. I mention this because of some of my observations along the way. In many locations on my drive I noticed fields tilled right up to the water lines on creeks, rivers, and lakes. There was no buffer. Anything applied to the crops could run into the water. Erosion was rampant in spots with 10 foot vertical banks slowly eating into fields because there was no riparian vegetation to secure the soil. It was obvious the natural ecosystem had been destroyed in many areas leaving only countless fields behind.
That’s about it for the month of May. Everything that occurred managed to shrink to a manageable text level, but only because I don’t want to get into all the details. I spent much of my time at education and outreach events, which is great because that’s what I’m here for. I feel like several hundred students learned a little more about the environment through my actions.