Heritage Conservancy recently hosted a series of field trips to include the entire fourth grade from Keystone Elementary School in Croydon, PA. Spanning from late September into early October over the course of several days, over 180 enthusiastic students were bussed from Croydon to the banks of the Delaware River in Lambertville, NJ, to raise awareness about the Delaware River Watershed, the organisms that live there, and the importance of protecting our waterways—all while having fun in the process!
“It was important for the students to appreciate that this is the exact same river that runs through their community in the Bristol/Croydon area. Helping them to understand their connection to the water and how our actions on the land impact the water is a critical piece in long-term preservation of the Delaware River Watershed.” stated Heritage Conservancy’s Community Engagement Programs Manager, Shannon Fredebaugh-Siller.
On days with suitable weather, some of the students even had the opportunity to board the Steamboat SPLASH! This “Steamboat Floating Classroom” is used for environment-based learning, specifically focusing on clean-water ecology. “About half of the students had never ridden a boat before, and even fewer had been on a boat in the Delaware River, so this was a spectacular opportunity for them to connect more closely with this critical natural resource in their community.” says Fredebaugh-Siller.
Acting as “citizen scientists,” eager students made their way through interactive learning stations along the Delaware River or on board Steamboat SPLASH including: a macroinvertebrates station complete with microscopes, a water chemistry station testing the river water quality, a guided bird watching session (kids loved to use the binoculars!), and a reading of the Sammy the Shad story. On days when the groups couldn’t get onto the water due to poor weather, children enjoyed a walk to see a canal lock along the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath.
As a souvenir, all 181 students will receive their own paperback copy of The Wind in the Willows of Bucks County, a book that was co-produced by Heritage Conservancy with community support and focuses on the Delaware River as a strong recurring theme. This book will help to serve as a reminder of the importance of stewarding and protecting our region’s water supply. Heritage Conservancy will work with the students throughout the upcoming school year to supplement their classroom learning with activities related to watershed protection and themes from the book.
Through funding from the William Penn Foundation, the Alliance for Watershed Education, and private donor support, this field trip helped to build on an understanding of environmental conservation, public health, historic preservation, and sustainable community development. Heritage Conservancy will continue working with Keystone Elementary School to augment what the students learned on their field trip to the Delaware River and to provide them with new educational outreach programs.
If you are interested in scheduling an in-class presentation or a field trip with Heritage Conservancy, or to learn about ways you can support these types of initiatives throughout Bucks County, contact the Conservancy at 215-345-7020.