Philipstown Students Engage in Study of Hudson River

Students and faculty from the Garrison and Haldane schools met with local biologists and Hudson Highlands Land Trust educators on Thursday, Oct. 14, to participate in A Day in the Life of the Hudson River, now in its 8th year.
       The Philipstown students, led by Garrison middle school science teacher Kevin Keegan and Haldane high school biology teacher Mark Patinella, used seine nets and lab equipment to investigate aquatic life, water chemistry and quality, tides and weather. The information obtained creates a detailed snapshot of the river on that particular day. Constitution Marsh Audubon Center’s Rich Anderson, Eric Lind and Rebecca Schultz, and HHLT educator Cathy Bakker, led Garrison 7th grade students to take water samples and document species at the Garrison Landing.  Haldane AP biology students collected samples further north at Little Stony Point, under the guidance of HHLT educators Lisa Mechaley and Peter Salmansohn, and parents Jeanne Fitzgerald, Nancy Farren and Mary Lou Sussmeier.  Students at both locations will use a special “fish key” booklet developed by the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater organization to help them with species identification.

View from Garrison Landing

The collected data is shared with that of other students stationed along the Hudson from New York Harbor to the Troy Dam using a Web-based system, organized by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Observatory and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  As a result of their field work, all students better understand how their piece of the river fits into the larger Hudson estuary ecosystem.  Findings also contribute to ongoing research projects, and data from the event is incorporated into lesson plans developed by the Hudson River Estuary Program and available to all teachers in the Hudson Valley.

View from Little Stony Point (Photo by Mike Turton)

Lisa Mechaley, Educator and Program Manager of HHLT’s Hudson Highlands Regional River of Words Program, was enthusiastic about the day’s benefits.  “Not only do the students gain an understanding of this historic and vital estuary system, they are also learning valuable research techniques, and the importance of sharing data within a scientific community.”
       The Hudson Highlands Land Trust developed the Environmental Discovery Grant Program to expand environmental education and “place-based learning. Haldane and Garrison are receiving multi-year HHLT grants, which support in-school environmental and sustainability awareness enrichment programs, field studies, and extra-curricular outdoor education programs. Teacher training workshops on using the outdoors as a learning laboratory are also supported. “We are pleased that our educators are able to work with both the Garrison and Haldane schools to give students this hands-on opportunity to learn more about the Hudson River,” explained Outreach and Development Director MJ Martin.
       Sponsored by the DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and run in conjunction with Hudson Basin River Watch, the event has grown since its modest beginning in 2003, when a little over 300 students participated.  More than 3,000 students participated at 61 locations on the estuary in October 2009 including those from Haldane and Garrison schools.  The annual study is scheduled to coincide with National Estuaries Day and World Water Monitoring Day.
       The Hudson Highlands Land Trust is a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the natural resources, rural character, and scenic beauty of the Hudson Highlands.  For more information on its education programs contact the office at 845-424-3358 or visit http://www.hhlt.org/.


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