For our final week with the Green Zone Environmental Program (GZEP) participants, we arranged a river excursion on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Almost immediately after leaving the dock, we saw an Osprey return to one of three Osprey nests on the Fredrick Douglass Bridge. With binoculars and a few field guides, they were able to spot four Osprey, three cormorants and five gull species before moving on to our next activity. The instructors talked about various nets we would be using on the boat and what they would be used for, including a plankton net. They selected a few volunteers to drop the net into the water and then retrieve it once we reached the point where both rivers converge. You can check out the video here! Because I also work to keep our social media pages updated, I figured that this would be a great opportunity to go live on Facebook to showcase one of many ways we engage the youth of the district.
I believe that everyone’s favorite part of the day was having the opportunity to reel in a trawl net filled with fish! They learned about the importance of biodiversity and the many adaptations fish have in order to survive. Students also used guides to identify the species of aquatic life that were caught in the net, including pumpkin seed sunfish, striped sea bass, blue catfish, menhaden, and white perch. We also discussed the various aquatic grasses, including invasive species like Hydrilla. This was a wonderful experience for the GZEP kids, and I hope they take away something they learned from this experience to become environmental stewards in their communities.