Educating the next generation of local stewards on the health of the Bay is critical to protecting and preserving it for the future. That’s starts with passionate teachers showing students (in person, hands in the water, feet in the dirt) what lives in our creeks, rivers and Bay, how healthy they are (or aren’t), and why that is important to everything we do and have on Long Island. The Day In The Life of a River program has been doing just that for over nine years now.
Established in 2011, Day In The Life of a River works with science teachers in schools across Long Island to use local waterways as classrooms conducting water quality testing, site mapping, soil analysis, aquatic biological sampling with seining, and more. Guided by teachers and trained educational partners, students collect a snapshot of data which is then uploaded to an open database creating an historical picture of changes in the health and nature of our estuaries.
Recently nearly a dozen Save The Great South Bay volunteers were certified as Day In The Life environmental education partners allowing us to directly support the field trip program. With so many field trips having been cancelled this year due to COVID-19, we were thrilled and honored to be invited to team up with Deborah Gerken at Eastern Suffolk BOCES at the Day In The Life of Fire Island which engages Fire Island School District students.
Taking a not-so-typical school bus route, we left from Captree State Park and drove along the Atlantic shoreline to Ocean Beach where we met up with students from Fire Island’s Woodhull School. Save The Great South Bay volunteers, Ed Ragan and JanetMarie Soley, worked side by side with Peconic Bay Keeper Pete Topping. We spent the morning working in small teams at sites along the bay side of the island to complete the five program modules – physical data, site description, biological sampling, chemical analysis and documentation. These eager students scooped, seined, collected, analyzed, drew, wondered, discussed, and best of all delighted in learning about the biodiversity and health of the Bay!
A little further west, closer to the infamous FI Lighthouse, a separate team including knowledgable and enthusiastic members of the National Park Service and members of the Bay Shore School District high school science department filmed a how-to video for educators demonstrating each module. We were enchanted and entertained when our seine net pulled in an adult male seahorse and a lady crab! The lesson in both aquatic and land biodiversity wasn’t lost on as deer camouflaged directly behind us in the grasses.
This noble effort was founded and is led by Dr. Melvyn Morris of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Melissa Parrott of the Central Pine Barrens Commission and Ron Gelardi of New York State Department of Environmental Control and runs every Friday in September-October. The program covers eleven watersheds most of which include estuaries flowing directly into the Great South Bay such as Massapequa Creek, Gardiner Creek, Carll’s River, Mill Brook, Green’s Creek, the Connetquot, Forge and Carman’s Rivers.
With our recent certification, Save The Great South Bay is thrilled to be counted among the educational partners for this exciting & engaging program. In addition, we are proud to be adding Sumpawams and Santapogue Creeks to the list of watersheds covered and will be incorporating the educational component of water quality testing into our annual Creek Defender community creek clean up events.
To be a part of our Creek Defender program, join our crew of volunteers here or email us at [email protected]. For more information on how to bring the Day In The Life of A River program to your school, contact [email protected].