In 2008, the Board President of the Missisquoi River Basin Association (MRBA), John Little, created Bugworks - a hands-on program that allows participants to explore the aquatic ecosystems around them and helps forge connections between participants and the watershed. In 2018, thanks to a grant from the Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild & Scenic Committee, the MRBA was able to provide Bugworks 14 times at 9 locations throughout the watershed in the spring, summer, and fall of 2018 – reaching 473 students, residents, and visitors!
How it Works
The MRBA hired Kurt Valenta of Exordium Inc. to provide Bugworks sessions in 2018. Kurt worked with each group to develop the program to suit each classroom or community group’s time constraints and interests. Ideally, each programs consisted of an in-class session as well as a field trip to a nearby wetland, pond, or brook. Topics that were covered during Bugworks sessions included: the Missisquoi watershed, aquatic insect identification, insect life cycles/metamorphosis, aquatic food chains/webs, ground water issues, and the evaluation of data. Bugworks was offered free-of-charge to five schools, two summer camps, and two public festivals.
Why it Matters
The goal of Bugworks is to bring an understanding of water quality issues to residents of all ages in our watershed. Due, in part, to the prevalence of dairy farms in the Missisquoi watershed, the Missisquoi Bay has a problem of severe nutrient (particularly phosphorus) overloading. School teachers are limited in the time they have to cover as much as they would like on various topics, so making Bugworks available within our school systems ensures that water quality is a topic to which their students are exposed. Offering Bugworks to community groups ensures that the MRBA can reach residents who may have missed these lessons in school, or simply need a refresher.
The Future of Bugworks
We were happy to fund such an important program; increasing available programming that is focused on our watershed and the health of our waters enables groups like the MRBA to reach even more watershed residents, offering fun educational programs that help ensure our communities have a strong understanding of the importance of rivers, and how we can work together to protect them. The MRBA is excited to continue educating students and watershed residents alike about topics such as what a watershed is, why it is important to each and every one of us, and how the food chain of aquatic systems work and are impacted by activities within a watershed.
Scientific drawing of a dragonfly nymph and a stonefly.
Students from North Hero working to create a scientific report about their chosen aquatic invertebrate.