Read me a river

Stu­dents dive into an awe­some ar­ray of skills at Rap­pFLOW’s field day

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By Daphne Hutchin­son Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News

Thurs­day, Sept. 22, was a day of dis­cov­ery and learn­ing down by the river­side in Sper­ryville, as young peo­ple from the county’s schools (pub­lic, pri­vate and home) “read” the waters and the land to as­sess the county’s en­vi­ron­men­tal health.

At the an­nual field day spon­sored by Rap­pFLOW (Rap­pa­han­nock Friends and Lovers of Our Wa­ter­shed), high school­ers in the morn­ing and sixth graders in the af­ter­noon went from sta­tion to sta­tion, soak­ing up re­source ap­pre­ci­a­tion and pro­tec­tion.

It was a beau­ti­ful out­door class­room — a set­ting shown by re­search to bring in­creases in knowl­edge gains and greater un­der­stand­ing of the lessons cov­ered. And the lessons were all aimed at main­tain­ing Rap­pa­han­nock’s en­vi­ron­men­tal qual­ity into the fu­ture.

The kids as­sessed aquatic life scooped from the Thorn­ton River and graded wa­ter sam­ples to mea­sure the stream’s health. They grasped the in­ter­play of sim­ple ma­chines in a fly rod and the in­ter­con­nec­tion of tem­per­a­ture, tur­bid­ity and nu­tri­ents in a trout stream. They heard about re­spon­si­ble chem­i­cal use and wa­ter pro­tec­tion and con­ser­va­tion strate­gies prac­ticed by a golf course

that puts en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns above the bot­tom line. They learned the ben­e­fits of con­ser­va­tion land­scap­ing with na­tive plants that pro­vide the best habi­tat for na­tive pol­li­na­tors and wildlife. They went away armed with facts on the im­por­tance of ri­par­ian buf­fers and for­est cover. Sure, these kids walked around look­ing down, but they were study­ing site maps in­stead of cell phones and scrib­bling ground cover iden­ti­fi­ca­tion in­stead of post­ing emoti­cons.

Young voices raised in the ex­cite­ment of learn­ing best show the im­pact and ben­e­fits of Rap­pFLOW’s les­son plan: “I found some­thing!” “Cool! Awe­some!” “I’m so fas­ci­nated! Please don’t make me leave now!”

BY DAPHNE HUTCHIN­SON

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