April 24 – May 3, 2013: 72 River Watchers created art, games, stories and more for the 2013 Flying Fish Review, the River Watch student newsletter for River Watchers, by River Watchers, to be released May 13, 2013 =)
April 22, 2013: 34 students from Tim Fennell’s AP Environmental Science class at the Liberal Arts and Science Academy joined 14 professional Environmental Scientists and other community volunteers in the field (in the river:) for an Environmental Science Career Day on Earth Day. Students rotated through stations where they learned about benthic macroinvertebrates, fish, water quality and the relationships between and properties of groundwater and surface water. Students were surprised and delighted to see gar close up and also an immature native freshwater mussel. Scientists from the City of Austin Watershed Protection Department, Austin Water Utility, University of Texas – Texas Natural History Collections – Fish Team, Austin Youth River Watch and other professionals worked with the students in the field and then talked with them about their career pathways.
April 20, 2013: Four River Watchers visited with members of the public from all ages and backgrounds at the Austin Earth Day Festival. River Watchers demonstrated the water quality tests and helped some curious festival goers to try some of the tests themselves. The River Watchers explored the festival and learned about all kinds of cool Environmental Work being done here in our community and about things they can do to help Austin’s Environment everyday. Thanks to our friends at Texas Green Network who organized the Austin Earth Day Festival for the second year now – this is a great service to our community!
April 18, 2013: Seven River Watchers identified birds as they observed the wildlife at the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Management Plants’s treatment Ponds. The ponds have been a haven for migratory waterfowl on the Central Flyway for North American Bird Migration for the last 60+ years. Hornsby Bend, the most popular birdwatching site in Central Texas, is host of up to 356 species of birds in any given year. On a good full day of birding, it is possible to see most than 100 species of birds. Check out the Hornsby Bend Bird Checklist here.
April 12, 2013: Nine River Watchers toured Breckenridge Field Lab with Graduate Assistant of Entomology. Students learned about local bug and native plant ecology.
April 11, 2013: 25 Soon-to-be-Graduates active with River Watch gathered together with River Watch Staff, Board Members and other supporters to Celebrate their accomplishments as they prepare for Graduation. The evening was complimented by the preparation and service of food by fellow high school students at the Travis High School Culinary Arts Facility, a lovely space for our intimate gathering. The Grads took turns sharing what they have enjoyed and learned in their time in River Watch and also about their plans for the coming Fall semester. At the end of the evening ten students were honored with acknowledgment of their substantial service to the Greater Austin community. The two students with the highest number of service hours both had in excess of 400 hours of service each with River Watch. We are so proud of these fine young people and so happy for them as they prepare for the next phase of their lives out in the world.
Here are the post-graduation plans of the River Watchers present that night:
Austin Community College – Environmental Science and Political Science
University of Texas at Arlington – Mechanical Engineering
Texas A&M – Zoology
Texas A&M – Animal Science / Agribusiness
University of Texas at Austin – Accounting
Austin Community College then transfer to University of Texas at Austin – Nursing
Austin Community College – Basic Courses in preparation for transfer to University – 7 Graduates have this plan
Austin Community College then transfer to Sam Houston State University – Veterinary Medicine
Texas A& M – Mechanical Engineering
University of Texas at Austin – Education
University of Texas at Arlington – Education
Stephen F. Austin State University – Education, Social Work, Photography
Trade School- Sound Engineering in San Diego, CA
Angelo State University – Finance
Austin Community College – International Business
Austin Community College – Occupational Therapy
Austin Community College then transfer to Sam Houston State University – Criminal Justice
Trade – Electrician
Travel and the begin Austin Community College for basic courses and possible Culinary Arts Program
April 10, 2013: Eight River Watchers contributed our recycling and five River Watchers watered the grasses in volunteer time with our partners at Ecology Action. One group of students took the River Watch recyclables to the Recycling Center run by Ecology Action at 9th St. and IH-35. Another group of River Watchers trekked through the Ecology Action Preserve along the Colorado River, where the students had planted grasses the weekend before and watered those grasses.
April 5, 2013: Nine young men of River Watch had a Retreat based at the River Watch EcoHouse at Hornsby Bend. The night hike yielded a good conversation between two barred owls, enjoyment from the walk to the river and interest in the Stars. In the morning the River Watchers met up with Ecology Action Co-Director, Brent Perdue at the EA preserve just upstream and on the opposite bank of the river from where the River Watchers test at Montopolis Bridge. Brent told the story of the Preserve. Then we walked through the site identifying and playing with some of the native plants and the other plants too. River Watchers planted sprigs of native Eastern Gamagrass, Tripsacum dactyloides, and dispersed seeds of native local ecotype grasses gathered from some of our monitoring sites, Wildrye, Elymus sp, and Inland Sea Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium. The guys really enjoyed each other’s company and a good time was had by all.
April 1, 2013: 11 River Watchers sampled the water quality on Barton Creek at the Texas Nature Conservancy’s Barton Creek Habitat Preserve. Students learned about the endangered species of birds that call the Preserve home as well as about some of the management tools used to maintain the land for their necessary living requirements – their habitats.
March 28, 2013: Four River Watchers and one community volunteer from URS Engineering planted native and local ecotype grasses near the Colorado River in an area with a lot of erosion. Students hope the grasses will hold the soil together, slow flood waters and filter any runoff water to leave our environment cleaner and healthier. As the grasses become established, their roots will help rain water to infiltrate into the soil. That water will then come out as seeps and springs that will help the river have base flow all the time, not just runoff water when it rains. River Watchers are looking for more opportunities to help heal the hydrological cycle in our community.