The Franklin County Natural Resources Conservation District (NRCD) thought up the Stream Scientists program as a way of engaging underprivileged youth in nature-based activities, connecting them to the Missisquoi River's ecology and cultural history. In the summer of 2017 they used a Community River Grant to fund the program as part of a summer day camp!
The audience for Stream Scientists was day campers from
Richford and Berkshire who participate in the Richford NOTCH
summer day camp. Participants ranged in age from 5 to 14, plus
high school counselors. The District Manager at Franklin County
NRCD, Jeannie Bartlett, led natural resources-themed activities at
the camp twice a week for the six week duration of camp.
Activities centered around macroinvertebrates and what they
indicate about river health; how to identify some key edible and
dangerous plants; and contributing observations to a
“Nature Guide” created by Jeannie but at the campers’ direction.
Creating the Nature Guide
As part of the camp, participants helped created a “Locals’ Nature Guide to the Richford Playground” featuring 36 species of plants and animals and 86 directly quoted observations about the species from campers. Through this process, campers learned about the natural communities in and surrounding the Missisquoi River from each other and from Jeannie. They also reinforced their knowledge by teaching each other and dictating observations for use in the Nature Guide.
The Nature Guide is now on display at Richford town library and Richford and Berkshire elementary school libraries so that campers can see how their work contributed to a public resource. This disseminates the natural history knowledge represented in the Guide with students and the public. It also strengthens the campers’ senses of agency, worth, and ability to contribute to a public resource. To download and read the guide, click here.
Future River Stewards
The camp reached ~100 students, leading them on exploratory nature walks and teaching them about the natural world around them. Activities were fun, loose, and hands-on. At the same time, while having fun in the river, kids were exposed to ideas and projects that expanded their vision of their own futures to include careers in science and environmental stewardship. The Upper Missisquoi and Trout Rivers Wild and Scenic Committee is thrilled to have funded such an important experience!
Students hold a copy of the nature guide they helped create