ALLARM Members: Julie Vastine, Hiba Aoid, and Karan Shakya
Craighead House Education Event, October 5, Boiling Springs, PA
On October 5, members of ALLARM ventured out to Craighead House at Boiling Springs to introduce participants on ways to understand stream health. Since the Yellow Breeches was right next to Craighead House, we used this stream as an example to illustrate several indicators that can be used to measure stream health. Our goal was to introduce participants to both the biological side of stream health through macro-invertebrates, and the chemistry side through conductivity, pH, and nitrate-nitrogen. We were unsure how many participants would show up and we were pleased when 17 enthusiastic and eager participants joined us on a chilly Saturday morning. We started with a brief overview on water monitoring and moved on to visualizing how the geology and land-use changes affects the quality of a stream. Then we collected and identified different macro-invertebrates such as water penny larvae, stonefly nymphs, and scuds. Finally, participants got to experience using equipment that is used to measure water visibility, conductivity, pH, and nitrate-nitrogen.
This event, in our view, was successful as we completed our goals of introducing participants to ways stream health can be measured. Our mini-demonstration where we poured diluted HCL (an acid) on top of a limestone (a carbonate rock) to see the fizz was fun to share. This provided participants with a visual representation of how carbonate rocks can buffer against acidic pollutants. Participants were also particularly interested in learning more about the macro-invertebrates and its broader role in the context of streams. Since we had participants from different age groups and experience, we learned a lot about group facilitation, interaction, and sharing from this event. Our participants asked a lot of insightful questions which really helped in our discussions of stream health. Sarah Fischer, who was our representative from Craighead House, was also pleased with our event and showed interest in future collaboration with ALLARM. This was also Hiba Aoid’s first ALLARM event!