Saturday, June 4, 2016

On Assignment: Stream Stewardship

I always like photographing school stories because people are usually engaged in what they're doing and so I can get in there and make photos without worrying much about them.  This was a cool story to shoot because 1) it was outside, which is always awesome; and 2) the kids were doing so many different things that there were a million possibilities to shoot.  The cicadas were just starting to come out when I shot this, so I'm still waiting on my summer-bucket-list shot that's normal event coverage, except with someone freaking out as a cicada dive-bombs them.

In the meantime, follow the link to the full story at to read about how these kids are learning legit conservation skills and taking measurements that government agencies will use to evaluate stream health.

8th-grader Carter Williams, 16, measures dissolved oxygen levels in Pigeon Creek in Fallowfield Township.  7th and 8th grade students in Howard Johnson's Stream Stewardship class at Charleroi Middle School monitor five streams in the area, including Pigeon Creek.

7th-grader Claudia Conrad, 13, peers through a surveying theodolite from the edge of Pigeon Creek's bank, toward a reflector on the railroad track bed about a hundred yards from the creek.  By tracking the elevation of the creek bed over time, the class can record the rate that the creek bank is subsiding into the creek.

8th grader Layla Tomlin, 13, checks the color of a vial of creek water for a dissolved oxygen test to check on the quality of the stream's water.

Principal Adam Brewer takes a photo of 7th-grader Claudia Conrad, 13, as she surveys the elevation of the top of the bank of Pigeon Creek in Fallowfield Township.  Brewer accompanied the students to Pigeon Creek for science teacher Howard Johnson's Stream Stewardship class, which monitors the health of five streams in the area.

7th-grader Dylan Terrant, left, peers through a prism from train tracks about a hundred yards from Pigeon Creek.  Terrant, part of a Stream Stewardship class at Charleroi Area Middle School, sat at the constant elevation of the track bed so that the relative erosion of the creek bed could be recorded. 

8th-grader McKenna Williams, 13, tries to determine the species of a larvae collected from Pigeon Creek.  Teacher Howard Johnson, foreground left, stirred up the creek bed into a fine net, which collected the creatures living in the mud so the students could do a population count.  The presence of different species of invertebrates indicates the health of the stream.

Students sift through a kick net for macroinvertebrates from tiny mayfly larvae to giant cranefly larvae and crawdads.  The survey provides a continuum of species present, with more sensitive species indicating a healthier stream.

7th-grader Claudia Conrad loads a kick net into the back of the school bus as Mr. Johnson's Stream Stewardship class packs up to leave Pigeon Creek in Fallowfield Township after their survey and litter pick-up on Thursday.

Students pull off their rubber boots and put their shoes back on after wading around the mud and weeds of Pigeon Creek when they picked up litter, surveyed creek bank elevation, and did a census of creek invertebrates for a middle school stream stewardship class.