Calling All Students

Are you interested in pursuing a career in environmental biology or environmental education? Are you a junior or senior in high school, or a college student looking for an exciting summer packed with relevant experience? Please consider joining the Roger Tory Peterson Institute’s Project Wild America Youth Ambassador program. Through this program you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside RTPI biologists and staff as they investigate, monitor and improve habitat for unusual and threatened species in the City of Jamestown, as well as raise public awareness and increase community engagement.

For those interested, applications in PDF can be picked up at RTPI or found here:

PWA Crew Leader Application 2017
PWA Crew Application 2017

Completed applications can be dropped off in person or emailed to Elyse Henshaw at ehenshaw AT

RTPI is very excited for what the upcoming field season has in store, and look forward to once again being immersed in water, mud and adventure alongside another great crew of students that will be doing the same as we explore and discover the natural wonders within the boundaries of our own city!

Birds of a Feather

As you walk, bike, or jog on the paved paths lining the outskirts of the Chadakoin River, your ears become quaintly attuned to beautiful songs from a wide array of bird species. Cedar Waxwings fill the air with their high, thin, whistles in pursuit of flying insects putting on a display of dazzling aeronautics. The Belted Kingfisher’s piercing rattle is often heard as it patrols up and down the Chadakoin River.

A Cedar Waxwing takes a break from catching flying insects

A Cedar Waxwing takes a break from catching flying insects

From Cliff Swallows nesting on the side of the bridge and sub-tropical Yellow Warblers flitting about tree canopies, to the Green Heron’s balance beam act on the breakwall looking for its next meal, there is a surprise around every bend.

A Green Heron perched on the breakwall looking for lunch

A Green Heron walks on the breakwall looking for lunch

A Green Heron catches a fish at McCrea Point

A Green Heron catches a fish at McCrea Point

Mallards have long been adapted to the presence of people in that they open their beaks, beginning to squawk, waddling their way to the shoreline before plunging into the water. As a result of their adaptation, I had the pleasure of watching fuzzy mallard ducklings being escorted by their mother in places such as McCrea Point and Panzarella Park.

Mallard Ducklings follow their mom down the Chadakoin River

Mallard Ducklings follow their mom down the Chadakoin River

It’s entertaining watching them venture off on their own as mom springs out of the water, chasing after them!

Mallard Ducklings enjoy the sunshine on the Chadakoin River

Mallard Ducklings enjoy the sunshine on the Chadakoin River

The bright red plumage of the male Northern Cardinal is hard to miss along with the Song Sparrows singing their hearts out amidst the morning fog.

Ospreys are also common sights soaring over the river searching for fish. Have your eyes on the skies for these fish eating raptors and the Broad-winged Hawk which hunts small animals.

An Osprey stares down as it searches for fish

An Osprey stares downward with its bright yellow eyes

The Chadakoin River is filled with many different species throughout the seasons, so don’t hesitate to grab those binoculars and go bird watching!

Nature Taking Over

It was three summers ago when I was first introduced to the Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle (Apalone spinifera). I was in the back of Twan Leenders’ (RTPI President) car along with a couple of my Jamestown Community College professors with eyes peering through binoculars, attempting to get a better look. Having seen these turtles in more “remote” locations along Conewango Creek and the Allegheny River, I never expected these turtles to be in such an urban center. Growing up my perception of the river, like most others, was that the Chadakoin was too developed and too dirty to support life such as these incredibly odd creatures. However, I was pleasantly surprised that day, and have been more and more surprised each day I have spent on the river since then.

Excavating Female

As I now walk the Riverwalk with our Youth Ambassadors, I am taken back at how nature is staking its claim within the city and poking through cement walls, abandoned buildings, old train tracks and more. Where nature gets its hold, it takes over what was originally its’ own. Amazingly enough, I have noticed that nature not only takes over man-made structures, but also takes over man as well.


While we have worked along the river over the past couple of weeks we have been immersed in nature’s beauty and uniqueness surrounding the Chadakoin River corridor. It’s been a joy to see each of our students gain a deep interest and understanding of the habitats and species within the area we are studying. I think nature has begun to take our students over and I am excited to see what they learn from it as we continue our work together.