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Friday, October 24, 2014
Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
Canajoharie and Fort Plain Central School District students are taught how to analyze bugs they found in the Otsquago Creek by (standing, right) Schoharie River Center Environmental Educator Scott Hadam. Pictured, standing, are Benjamin (left) and Zach McKeeby, environmental educator and intern, respectively.

Joshua Thomas - From left, Hans Hudyncia, Noah Sweet and Bryce Boylan separate bugs.

Joshua Thomas
Julia Stockwell analyzes a macro invertebrate from the Otsquago Creek.

Joshua Thomas
Spencer Mang helps to pull bugs from Otsquago Creek mud.

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Students study local water quality; results to be presented Friday

Thursday, July 17, 2014 - Updated: 10:09 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

FORT PLAIN -- Students from the Canajoharie and Fort Plain Central School Districts have spent the week volunteering throughout the two communities, collecting and analyzing water and wildlife samples, the main goal being to test the quality of numerous local bodies of water. The students will present their findings Friday at the group's home-base, 47 Main St., Diefendorf Hall, Fort Plain, from 2-4 p.m.

The students are volunteering their time under New York State's WAVE program, created as a way for the understaffed state to assess the water quality of their 22,000 streams, lakes and rivers. Schoharie River Center Environmental Educator Scott Hadam explained that there are currently only six people staffed to evaluate each body of water in the state, meaning that each person must take on 4,000.

The local program -- one of the first the Schoharie River Center is facilitating as part of its expanding Environmental Study Team program -- began Monday with the students taking a boat ride down the Mohawk River (courtesy of the NYC-based group Riverkeeper, also aiming to expand programming to the Mohawk Valley), from Fort Plain to Canajoharie, collecting water samples along the way.

On Tuesday, the group collected samples -- of both water and macro invertebrates -- from three locations in the Otsquago Creek: right behind Diefendorf Hall, and above and below the swimming hole off Spring St. On Wednesday, samples were collected from the Canajoharie Creek at Wintergreen Park and the Boiling Pot.

The students analyzed the water, doing rough chemistries, and testing oxygen and PH levels, amongst other things. The process, said Hadam, "gives them a real edge when they go into chemistry" in the high school, as they're learning things early that they'll be taught in the future.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the students sifted through bugs found in the bodies of water, putting them into categories — red, meaning that the sample in question could possibly be found in dirty or clean water; blue, meaning that the bugs could only live in clean water; and green, indifferent.

If there are hardly any bugs that fit into the blue category, it indicates that the water is dirty, while bugs across all three categories would indicate a "good, diverse, healthy body of water," according to Hadam.

The samples are then sent to the state with information about where each was collected, with state workers making assessments regarding whether they should visit the body of water and follow up with a formal evaluation.

On Thursday, the students will spend the day analyzing and organizing their findings, the goal being to present the results during Friday's public meeting and informational session.

The Schoharie River Center, in Burtonville, runs the Environmental Study Team year-round for kids age 11-18, including at-risk-youth and community members. In the summer, they sample. In the fall, they hike, and winter allows them to cross country ski and make maple syrup.

These local water quality testing activities, which also includes the facilitation of a volunteer group in Mine Kill, amongst other sites, are part of the group's goal to expand.

Hadam said, "The overall goal would be to get more youth involved with the outside and the environment. It's a priority that we've had for a while -- getting youth engaged and involved with the outside world, and hopefully creating people who want to go out and conserve and protect the earth."

Joshua Thomas - These bugs were pulled from the Otsquago Creek Tuesday.

Joshua Thomas - From left, Cassie O'Connor, Environmental Educator Benjamin McKeeby, Julia Stockwell, Spencer Mang and Lexi Veitch analyze bugs from the Otsquago Creek.

     

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