In honor of RTPI’s Wild America Wednesday, we thought it would be appropriate to celebrate another successful year of RTPI’s Project Wild America (PWA) Youth Ambassadors Program! Beginning in 2015, PWA began with a small group of ambitious students ready to roll up their sleeves and get dirty as they got acquainted with the Chadakoin River and the surrounding urban ecosystem within the City of Jamestown. Fast-forward to 2017, our crew has grown as have as our projects. We hope you enjoy this selection of photos from the summer season as well as the report for this year’s program.
From the first day, our students could tell they were in for a fun summer! To help our students get to know one another, we split them into teams and had them compete in a relay race, testing their knowledge and agility! Here Makenna races towards the “pond” to capture a fish.
The theme of our first week focused on learning about Roger Tory Peterson and the birds that inspired him. Here our students practice their birding skills in Willard Park, where Roger spent time as a young boy.
During our first week, and weeks after we conducted bird banding with PWA students.
Alex Shipherd, SUNY Fredonia biology student and past PWA crew leader, removes a Chestnut-sided warbler from a mist net. Alex assisted in all bird banding operations throughout the summer.
Alex, with the help of Tiffany Donaldson past PWA crew member, place the warbler in a holding bag to keep it calm before it receives its band.
At the end of each banding day our students assisted Alex in taking nets down.
Our students took part in leading many educational programs throughout the summer, reaching hundreds of people within the community and inspiring them to become better stewards of our unique environment.
PWA Youth Ambassadors engaged visitors at this years inaugural McCrea Point Park Festival.
They also joined they Mayor and city officials in the official re-opening of the park since its renovations.
At the festival, students showed off our very first captured Musk turtle marked for study.
After the festival, our students focused on invasive species, biodiversity and lots more turtle trapping.
Students pull and check turtle traps.
PWA students even got to do a little kayaking to explore the upper parts of the Chadakoin River/Chautauqua Lake Outlet and record as many species as possible.
While PWA tabled different events, they often surveyed the public to get their input on different environmental topics. Here, our crew leader Becky Rew asked visitors to RTPI’s Wild America Festival about biodiversity.
PWA students also helped raise awareness of the Eastern Hellbender by dressing up as SAM (Slimy And Misunderstood) the hellbender.
Our students put in a lot of hard work at the Wild America Festival!
As the last week came to a close, PWA students focused on water quality and sampled for microplastics and various macroinvertebrates.
After taking samples in the field, our students took to the lab to test their samples.
Here our students process a water sample in search of small plastic particles.
The samples were further processed and our students learned how harmful plastics can be!
After six weeks of hard work, the 2017 PWA Youth Ambassador program came to a close and our students gave a final presentation to community members about what they had found.
For more information, check out our report here and to read more about our adventures and findings visit www.projectwildamerica.org!