Children from the Boys and Girls Club of the North Country participated in a Stream Safari on the Gale River last week. The kids are pictured here, fascinated by the bugs and fish they found during their work to test water quality. Also in the photo are Norma St. John, left, a volunteer for the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, and Liz Wyman, ACT's Director of Education and Outreach. (Photo by Darin Wipperman) (click for larger version)
October 05, 2016FRANCONIA — Seven young scientists learned a great deal about bugs and water quality last Tuesday afternoon. The group, from the Boys and Girls Club of the North Country, took part in a "Stream Safari" sponsored by the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust.
ACT coordinates activities such as the Stream Safari in an effort to increase the region's understanding of how human activities can impact natural resources. The question the kids were going to help answer while on last week's safari, according to Liz Wyman, ACT's Director of Education and Outreach, was, "Is the Gale River healthy?"
Wyman has received training on how to administer a Stream Safari. She conducted such an outing over the summer, again assisted by children as well as adult volunteers.
Several tests can be done to determine water quality. Certain bugs require clean and cool water to survive, so the presence of such critters is a good sign of a healthy river.
Also, Wyman discussed how the kids would be testing the water's acidity, dissolved oxygen, and phosphorus. A score close to neutral on acidity is desirable, with oxygen important and phosphorus, a byproduct of soil fertilizers from such places as farms, golf courses, and lawns, is something best kept out of water sources.
Prior to heading toward the Gale River along Dow Field, the kids spoke with Wyman and ACT volunteer Norma St. John at the gazebo. They discussed the types of bugs they might find while turning rocks over in shallow water.
"We're going to be scientists today," Wyman said.
With just 30 minutes in the river, the kids were able to find several bugs, and they even netted some small fish. Samples of water were taken, and then tested for the elements Wyman mentioned before the group headed out.
As Wyman said to the kids, "Now, as good scientists, we need to go back and analyze our data."
The tests results gave a generally positive verdict on the Gale River. The pH level, the measure of acidity, was six, close to the neutral score of seven. The pinkish color of the dissolved oxygen test Wyman considered "pretty good," with low levels of phosphorus also found.
The partnership with the Boys and Girls Club, Wyman said, is designed to explore "opportunities to get the kids outside," another interest area for ACT. The week before the Stream Safari, kids from the club explored Whipple Field in Sugar Hill, with a trip to the Cooley-Jericho Community Forest in Easton slated for a Club group next week.
Pleased with how eagerly the group of young learners completed their water quality task last week, Wyman concluded, "You were fantastic. Thank you."
For more information on ACT, go to: www.aconservationtrust.org or www.facebook.com/aconservationtrust.