Environmental Excursions

October 27, 2008
By Kelsey Brown, Rochester, NY

I grabbed up one of the nets and strolled over to the edge of the creek with my friend, Carey. It was a cool morning at the end of September, and this was just the beginning of our all-day field trip. Little did I know that this expedition was also the beginning of a passionate interest in the surrounding environment. Together, we stood with the rest of our environmental science class looking at the water flowing over rocks and leaves below us, each one of us silently daring someone else to be the first to wade into the cold. The solution came when one of the six-foot tall guys slipped in the mud and tumbled down the short, steep bank into the creek. Laughing, we followed him in, bringing with us our nets and buckets. We proceeded to scoop out samples of the different species living under and around the rocks and mud-coated leaves. Some of my classmates wore waders, an ingenious way to not get wet. Carey was wearing her rain boots, something I wished I had thought to wear. The frigid water had completely soaked my sneakers, numbing my feet in a matter of minutes. However, after awhile I paid no mind to it, as I was having the time of my life out in this little creek, catching and identifying our organism samples. Scuds, Stoneflies, Damselflies, and, my personal favorite, the giant crayfish. Whereas before I might have been skitterish to be sticking my hands in and examining these little creatures, I was all for it today.
With our total count of the organisms we had caught, for which we would use to determine water quality, we hopped aboard our school bus and headed out to our other three destinations. At each stop I could see what we had been learning inside the classroom really come to life outside. I loved witnessing these processes. Unfortunately, I also saw many environmental problems, too. While hiking in a state park with my dad one weekend, we saw algae blanketing entire sections of streams. I proceeded to give him a crash course on algae, and the causes and harmful effects that it produces. A week later I participated in a trash clean-up next to the creek that runs alongside my high school. We filled several bags fit to burst of garbage.
Although only an elective course, my environmental class has quickly become my favorite. So many of the things we learn in school we do not see in the outside world. That is not the case with this class. I admit I get very excited just passing a sign bearing the words “Sodus Bay Watershed” on the highway. Through these experiences and, personally, they are just the beginning for me, I have learned and seen firsthand how beautiful and fragile the environment truly is. Our picturesque planet Earth is not so lovely to behold right now, but we can all help to fix that. Yes, I have gone on school trips, spending days in the wild outdoors, drinking in the wonder of it all, but it really is something else to know and understand how extraordinary the environment is. Humans caused much of the problems that Mother Nature suffers, and it is our responsibility to cure it. Planet Earth can put up with and survive quite a lot, but not without consequence. It is up to us humans to work together and do our part to educate others and protect the environment. With time and hard work, I believe that we can do it.

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