Spring! Don’t Walk.

The Black Creek Preserve is not only great for hiking, but environmentalists also do research to learn things about the animals that live there and their environment. We went to Black Creek the other day (around Earth Day) and took a hike with our friend, Abi, the environmental educator from Scenic Hudson.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group explore a vernal pool with Scenic Hudson environmental educator, Abi.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group explore a vernal pool with Scenic Hudson environmental educator, Abi.

On our hike, we saw several vernal pools. Vernal pools are pools of water that are only around in spring (vernal means spring). Types of animals, such as frogs and salamanders, come to vernal pools in the spring to lay their eggs.  So vernal pools are an important part of many animals’ reproductive life.  In the vernal pools, we saw two small peepers, one salamander, two big toads, and a lot of salamander eggs!

When we got to the Creek where the environmentalists were studying the eels, some kids put on waterproof suits and went out into the water to help capture the eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help an environmental scientist catch eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help an environmental scientist catch eels.

Then, we counted and weighed the eels. The environmentalists were doing this because they wanted to know how well the eels were doing, how many there were, and to learn more about their development.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help environmental scientists count eels.

Kids from the Hudson Valley Homeschool Roots & Shoots group help environmental scientists count eels.

We learned that eels are born in the ocean.  Then they swim to the Creek where they grow up, and then they swim back to the ocean to have their own babies.

Of course, we put the eels back.  We carried them upstream in a bag and then let them go in the water.

– Zoe

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Keeping the River Clean


We had a meeting the other day about the Hudson River.   We learned that the Hudson River is an estuary. An estuary is a body of water where salt water and fresh water mixes together. Another thing about estuaries is that they’re tidal, and so the water gets high and low throughout the day.  At high tide, the water can take garbage a person might have accidentally left on the beach and sweep it out into the water.

We also learned that there is a food chain in the Hudson River that leads to us, and the younger kids drew food webs, which show how everything in the wild is connected and how everything relies on everything else in order to survive.

Ari with food web showing connections between all elements.  Ari said, "Without the sun, there wouldn't be anything at all!"

Ari with food web showing connections between all elements. Ari said, “Without the sun, there wouldn’t be anything at all!”

The older kids made charts to show how much bacteria was in the water and when.

Guin's frequency chart, which shows how often water samples taken by Riverkeeper were acceptable, possible risk and unacceptable levels of enterococcus.

Guin’s frequency chart, which shows how often water samples taken by Riverkeeper were acceptable, possible risk and unacceptable levels of enterococcus.

You can see that the samples tested acceptable more often than unacceptable, which means that the River isn’t so polluted as it used to be.

My chart also shows that the amount of rain that falls the week before the sample was taken (the orange line) can have an effect on the amount of bacteria in the water.  And the purple line shows that they don’t take samples when it’s raining because that stirs up the bacteria in the water which affects the sample!

So all of that means, you probably shouldn’t swim in the Hudson River after it rains.

There are many reasons to keep the Hudson River, or any other river, clean. Here are some:

*all bodies of water are connected so any garbage we throw in the river will end up in the ocean and become an even worse problem (for the animals and plants that live there, and for our food web and health)

*garbage can kill animals and fish that live in the river

*we swim in rivers

*we drink from rivers

*it’s pretty to look at rivers without garbage in it

You see , it is important to keep the river clean. When we keep the river clean, we are keeping the river, animals, and humans safe.

If you are interested in keeping the river clean, you can meet us at Kingston Point Beach on May 11th. We have signed up to be part of the annual community action day called the Riverkeeper Sweep. Different groups like ours are given a part of the beach to clean up. We hope we’ll see you there!

-Zoe

A Trip Along the Hudson River

After bundling up and going outside, our Roots & Shoots group met at the Black Creek Preserve. We played as we ran around the trail, which had fun slippery leaves in some places, and was pretty in some places and even creepy in others.  We talked with the environmental educator, Abi, from Scenic Hudson about the animals that live in the preserve and their habitats. We saw fences they put up that keep deer away from plants to keep the forest healthy.  The deer would eat all the baby plants, and then there would be just one kind of plant in the entire forest (the one that the deer don’t like), and that’s not healthy for the forest. There were also vernal pools. In summer, the pool dries up. But in spring and fall, the pool fills up, and it’s a great place for animals to live and breed.  And then we got to the Hudson River, where we climbed rocks and learned about the fish that live there.  On the way back, we saw a little hole dug into the roots of a tree.  It was a fox den!

Also, there was a movie being filmed at the creek while we were there.  We saw the film crew setting up as we walked in, and on the way out, I got to watch them do a take. It was really awesome.

Thanks so much to Abi and everyone who came.  Special thanks to Jenny for taking photos!  And to Scenic Hudson for protecting this beautiful forest for everyone to enjoy!

-Zoe

More About Bees!

Here are some of the interesting tidbits we had to cut out of the last bee film (so it wasn’t too much in one sitting) for those of you hungry for more info. In this film, Cindy talks more about using the smoker, her special recipe for bee tea, shows us what bees make and answers kids’ questions about the particulars of queen bees, bee stings and bears! Oh, my!

The Care and Feeding (and Saving) of Bees

The other day, our Roots & Shoots group went to visit the property of an R&S friend, Cindy Joao. Cindy keeps hives of honeybees on her property and helps them prosper. In turn, the honeybees help Cindy and her neighbors pollinate their food. During our visit, we got to see the bees, the things they make, and talk to Cindy. We talked about bees, about bee-keeping and about how the bees are in trouble and need our help.

The visit gave us all a little more to think about when it comes to bees, and a glimpse into perhaps a different relationship we can have with them. This is the hand-out that Cindy gave to us from her bee-keeping teacher, Chris Harp, which tells you how to create a bee sanctuary in your backyard.


And this is the documentary a lot of us watched in preparation for our bee-u-tiful visit.

For younger kids, we recommend watching this short movie instead, to get the jist of the issue.

You can learn a lot from bees. But you may only have until the year 2035. Then the bees could be gone. How old will you be?
-Hillary

Readers Re-Unite!

Today the readers from the read-a-thon got together again.  The World Wildlife Fund sent us plushes of the endangered species we helped to save with our donation to thank us.  I got a blue whale!  The other kids got a dolphin, hummingbirds, seahorses, sea turtles, pygmy elephants, a polar bear, tigers, a zebra, a wolf, an amur leopard, and a cheetah.  We got one plush for everybody!  And we got a trio of kittens for the group, along with a big tiger.

11 of our 16 readers (plus one little brother).  Not pictured: William, Bastien, Emma, Kayla and Lora.  We missed you guys!

They also sent us this sweet letter.

You’re never too old to play with stuffed animals!

-Zoe

Take Action for Endangered Animals

Knowing how much the kids care about saving endangered species, I thought I’d post this call for action from the Wildlife Conservation Society:
the current House funding bill included NOTHING for some U.S.
programs that protect wildlife all over the world. It’s an unprecedented and
shocking move that would spell disaster for tigers, elephants, apes, and hundreds of
other species teetering on the brink.

We have one opportunity to reverse this dire situation. Action in the Senate Tuesday
will decide whether or not to put these vital protection programs back in the
budget.

Will you email your senators right now and speak up for wildlife?

Here’s the link:
https://secure3.convio.net/wcs/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=451&s_src=2012-04_ADV_SenateUSAID_taf

Please don’t wait. By Tuesday afternoon it could be too late.

-Hillary

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