November 6, 2013: Seven River Watchers visited Ecology Action Recycling Center.
November 1, 2013: Five River Watchers collected grass plugs of Eastern Gamagrass and Switchgrass from Neal Cook at Cook’s Canoes. They returned to the EcoHouse and planted grass plugs in the front yard.
In October, each crew of River Watchers participated in a Workshop at the EcoHouse with volunteers from the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas. River Watchers talked through fundamentals of credit/debit, saving, interest, and investing. They enjoyed discussing the differences between things we need and things we want as they explored the topic of a spending plan and budget. They thought through what makes a credit union or bank want to lend money to someone and learned about strategies for establishing good credit. This lead to a discussion of the differences between credit and debit and highlighted the importance of shopping around and keeping track of spending. Finally, we talked about saving and investing; how to set aside money consistently to save up for a big goal, a SMART goal (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time). Basically, the earlier you start, the better off you will be. It is important to define your goal, to make it reasonable – it must be for something really important so we feel like it is worth the effort and we must give ourselves time to reach our goals. We want to thank our community partners at the Financial Literacy Coalition of Central Texas for tailoring a curriculum for the needs of the River Watchers, for their time and for sharing resources like the guides that they put together for the River Watchers to take home. We are especially grateful to the volunteers who gave their time and energy in the hopes of improving the financial livelihoods of the River Watchers as they embark on their adventures of life after high school.
October 26, 2013: Six young men of Austin Youth River Watch enjoyed a day trip to Barton Creek Habitat Preserve complete with swimming and cooking and then headed to the EcoHouse for a sleepover.
October 16, 2013: Seven River Watchers from the Akins crew helped film footage for a video about why we need a new van. The group was ideal for this purpose as they were the ones who had most recently had to deal with losing a program day as they changed the tire of the van with 18 wheeled trucks whizzing by at 80mph.
October 15, 2013: One River Watcher, who serves on the Board of Directors, and another River Watcher guest from Austin High School joined us for the Board of Directors meeting. Our guest appreciated seeing how the governance and decision making at the organizational level occurred and meeting the Board members and supporters of the River Watch program.
October 12, 2013: 10 young women of Austin Youth River Watch had a retreat and sleepover at the EcoHouse. What was to be the back-up date for our Annual Canoe Camping Adventure (due to rain the previous weekend) became our most successful River Watch Rain Dance ever! Instead of taking the young women of River Watch canoeing on the Colorado River and camping on an island in the middle of the river, we huddled together inside the EcoHouse, abandoning our tent in the front yard at midnight as 46 mile per hour winds descimated our tent poles and we received 5.5 inches of rain at the EcoHouse in less than 9 hours. Meanwhile a little further upstream, Barton Creek at the Loop 360 Bridge received a total of 12.7 inches of rain in those same 9 hours, including two separate hours of rainfall totals in excess of 4 inches for each of those two hours. This mini-rain bomb lead to the first ever missed day of the popular Austin City Limits Music Festival. We watched the totals come in and the waters rise on Barton Creek, The River, and Onion Creek. The greatest rise in the water was on Onion Creek flowing at 40,000cfs (cubic feet per second), seconded by the Colorado River rising from around 196cfs to over 28,000cfs. With the rains behind us, the River Watchers piled into the van and we ventured up Onion Creek to McKinney Falls State Park, where we had just sampled placid waters on the Wednesday preceding the big rains. As we turned onto FM 973 South on the Eastern side of Bergstrom Airport, we saw the creek flowing at about the width of a football field. We discussed the fact that people who had built homes close to the water in that neighborhood were getting bought out by local government entities. And as we discussed the problems of building near a floodplain, we saw one house about 25 vertical feet (one horizontal foot) from the edge of the water. At McKinney Falls State Park, we joined the crowd of spectators along the rip-roaring flood waters. We couldn’t get within about 200 feet of our regular monitoring site or even see where the Lower Falls were as huge trees and debris flowed swiftly past. The River Watchers accepted this, their witnessing the power of water, as the consolation prize for missing out on canoe camping, and they appreciated the experience.
October 4, 2013: Six River Watchers toured the East Boggy Creek Greenbelt trail and then returned to the EcoHouse for snacks and games.
October 3, 2013: Six River Watchers visited with Texas A&M doctoral students as they described their groundwater research and career trajectory at the Hornsby Bend river crossing site. River Watchers returned to the EcoHouse for snacks and games.