Up to 3,000 students and teachers will converge on the shoreline of the Hudson River to engage in hands-on science exploration throughout the day on Thursday. They will be stationed at 70 waterfront locations between New York City and Troy. The Rockland County sites include Piermont Pier, Upper Nyack Waterfront, Nyack’s Memorial Park, Nyack Beach and Bowline Park in Haverstraw.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wants to connect New Yorkers to nature. Its Hudson River Estuary Program prepares students to become stewards of the river’s water quality and natural resources. They will gather information about their community’s natural resources and learn first-hand about the local eco-system.
Pearl River, Clarkstown South and Tappan Zee high school students will work with volunteers from the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Piermont Pier. Upper Nyack Elementary students will be teamed with staffers from the federal Environmental Protection Agency at the Upper Nyack Waterfront from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Nyack High School students will conduct their research at Memorial Park between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. while middle schoolers work near the Nyack Beach Steps between 8:30 a.m. and noon.
Nanuet High School students will be stationed at Bowline Park between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Students from the Blue Rock School in West Nyack will be partnered with members of Strawtown Studio in West Nyack from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Students will use a variety of techniques to describe their sites, catch fish and invertebrates in nets, track the river’s tides and currents, and examine water chemistry parameters.
Students will examine the physical and chemical aspects of the river with a wide range of equipment and contraptions, like a homemade sediment corer assembled from local hardware supplies. High-tech refractometers and simple plastic hydrometers can both be used to measure salinity and find the “salt front” where freshwater runoff and salty seawater meet.
In partnership with the National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, and Cornell’s NYS Water Resource Institute, the Estuary Program has recruited and trained river educators to work with students at each site.
Over the years, students, educators and volunteers caught more than 16,000 fish of 53 species, ranging from the abundant Atlantic silverside to the odd summer flounder, white sucker, and spotted hake, each caught only once. The striped bass is one of the most frequently caught species.
“This is a great example of the kind of project enabled by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.
Findings will be posted online within days of the event.