Crews first impressions

Ayah Quadri

On June 27, the air was hot, and the clear water was cool. The PWA crew wore big rain boots and held big fine mesh nets as we prepared to get into the calm water. Through WAVE training, we began to learn about how to analyze water patterns and organisms to learn about the condition of the creek. We learned to do kick netting so that we can try to capture microorganisms for us to identify. Though my friend and I tried multiple times to get a creature, we kept getting empty nets. However, we couldn’t help but be obsessed with the beautiful water that we had just learned causes plenty of erosion to the nearby land border due to the cities’ inability to put a thick and durable enough bank alongside it. The bank has to be very specifically made so that nature is still able to continue flourishing in that area. If the border is not done correctly, it will erode away too quickly and may harm some natural habitats if it is not something the organisms can adapt to. I loved looking at the crayfish that other people found. The water seemed almost empty until you realize the tons of species of microorganisms that live in and alongside the water that we don’t even see. Everything about the water was beautiful, also what we couldn’t see. 

     Its the little things in life that many of us sometimes take for granted. Just understanding how powerful water is from how easily it erodes the land around it or how complex yet small the organisms that live in there makes you really be grateful for having this beauty around us. The water’s ecosystem fosters so many organisms and making minor changes to the environment can make considerable differences in their lives. All the detail in the water should only inspire everyone to learn more about the environment around us, as, sometimes, we struggle to see the beauty in simple things. This is what I’ve learned from only the second day of the PWA program and can’t wait for the days to come!

Andrew Johnson

IMG_0176.jpegWhile learning how to use helpful apps yesterday, we heard a loud noise and went to investigate it. It was near the pond, and we spotted the maker of the sound poking its head out of the water. It was an American Bullfrog. We were able to determine what it was by using an app called iNaturalist. Bullfrogs have been given their names because their call sounds like a bull. The American Bullfrog is the largest frog in the United States getting to weigh 1.5 pounds in some instances. This was a really cool experience and a great way to use the new tools we acquired.

Asha Deharder

Yesterday, on my second day as a Project Wild America Youth Ambassador, the crew was conducting a water study in the Moonbrook Creek in College Park. Although we were supposed to be focused on kick netting microorganisms, a group of beautiful damselflies caught my eye. With black wings and a green body, they fluttered gracefully around the bank of the creek. Towards the end of our time at the creek, I held out my hand, and a damselfly landed on it. These wings appeared to be made of pure black velvet and the body of a beautiful reflective green chrome. I was able to stare into the eyes of this beautiful creature for several seconds before it flew away. Needless to say, I felt blessed. Upon further research, I discovered that the Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly is native to the Eastern United States. Their habitat is near wooded streams, which makes sense. This experience filled me with a quaint joy. I was able to feel a connection with another living creature and with my entire environment.  In this day and age, I believe curating a connection to nature is more important than ever. I look forward to more experiences like the one I had with the Jewelwing Damselfly.

Jenelle Grigelevich

Hi, I’m Jenelle! I’m part of the 2019 Project Wild America youth ambassador program. I’m so excited for the upcoming summer! Within the first day of Project Wild America 2019, we, the crew set a goal. This year, the youth ambassadors want to catch a spiny softshell turtle! During first day orientation, it was presented to the crew that one of the species of turtles we are aiming to trap is a spiny softshell turtle. The crew leaders told us that very few have been caught in Project Wild America history despite the turtle being a major target. This instantly made the entire crew want to beat this turtle at its own game.  

The spiny softshell turtle is an odd-looking species of turtle. It has a bumpy and flat looking shell, a protruding nose, small beady eyes, and almost circular backs and front flippers. They’re quite fast creatures, and they know their way around our turtle traps seemingly better than other species. 

All in all, me and the whole crew really want to capture this turtle and learn more about it. It’s an important species in the Chadakoin River and it’d be so wonderful to get closer with it. Wish us all luck!

Mason Tomczak


Two days ago, my first day at RTPI as a Youth Ambassador for Project Wild America was full of enjoyment and enthusiasm. I especially enjoyed taking a trip to catch dragonflies at the pond behind the building. I have never seen such an abundance of dragonflies, and I had no idea you were so easily able to catch them and hold them in your hands. We were educated about the differences between dragonflies and damselflies due to the orientation of their wings, as well as learning some specific species such as the 12-spotted dragonfly. I was the first to catch a dragonfly almost as soon as we arrived at the pond and was grateful that my leaders showed me how to effectively use the net and how to pick up the dragonfly without harming it or letting it escape. Normally not very friendly with insects, I was fascinated by the fact that I was holding a beautiful insect and I strive to learn and interact more with any creatures we observe this summer

Oliva Ruiz


Yesterday, Thursday, June 27th, walking with my PWA crew, we wandered to the Hundred Acre Lot and received WAVE training and kick netting in the creek. As we were trying to find and identify microorganisms in the water and evaluating water quality, I noticed an abundance of beautifully colored damselflies flittering around in the ecosystem. After continuing to be trained on this very hot and sunny summer afternoon, one of the damselflies landed on my hand. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough to snap a picture, yet I was able to make observations about it and confirm it was a damselfly by the fact that its wings were positioned upright, instead of horizontal as a dragonfly would have them. Later on, after spending more time in the creek, another damselfly landed on my hand, and I was able to use the app, iNaturalist to use a picture to identify its species! The beautiful emerald chrome colored body and velvet-black wings were the characteristics of the species Jeweleings, scientifically named as Calopteryx, damselfly.

   It is truly astonishing to be able to use what I learn through the PWA internship about what interesting organisms I can find in my own backyard and share that with my community. I encourage everyone to take a closer look at the beauty of nature around them. I’m excited to see what other interesting organisms will end up in my hands for the next five weeks!

Joesph Youngberg

Yesterday we learned how to do wave training to check the quality of water by examining the kinds of aquatic insects that we catch in the nets. While out, we caught several crayfish along with dragonfly larva, dragonflies, and damselflies. I’m enjoying learning new ways to observe the environment and the animal within it and am hoping to continue gaining unique experience & new ways to show others to appreciate nature.

Hannah Hornyak

The denouement of my third day as an intern in the PWA Youth Ambassador Program stands still as I begin my first blog. Today was fulfilling, as we delved behind-the-scenes at RTPI, discovering the archive rooms.
These rooms host many artifacts that stood within Roger Tory Peterson’s life, from his hundreds of reels of film to his personal effects. From birdskins to original pieces of art, this archive allows us to feel the nature of Roger’s life and step into his shoes.
Upon seeing his magnificent paintings, I was drawn in and compelled to spend hours inspecting every detail within them. One piece with a roadrunner amidst cactus caught my gaze and held it, the thought of the beauty of the southwestern United States surfacing within my mind. A pair of Roger’s intricately adorned spurs lay upon a table, harmonious in their design, their leather straps exquisitely tooled; I could only think of Roger’s welter of travels and vast experience with the world.
It stands as a wonder in my mind that the culture of the southwest could find its way back here through a man who found his original passion in the forests surrounding Jamestown.


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