Thursday, May 7, 2015

May 1st River Cleanup

THANK YOU! to the Sophomore class at the Saint Johnsbury Academy for running a Sleeper's River Cleanup effort on May 1st, 2015.  They worked hard, and were able to pull  2640 pounds of metal and other debris from the river.  

Thanks also to James Bentley of the Saint Johnsbury Academy for running this important event, and to Peggy Pearl of the St. J. Historical Society, for culling the items of historical importance.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Email from Emily Miller - White River Partnership

Hi Marcia,

Your river classroom sounds like a fantastic resource!  It's really wonderful that you're making use of the river with your middle school students.  I can point you in a few different directions for sampling for bacteria.

We test water samples for bacteria here in Royalton using the IDEXX Colilert system.  It's a 24hr test recognized by the EPA and used widely in water quality testing.  In short, in the test we add colilert reagent to a 100mL water sample, incubate it for 24hrs in a specially sealed tray and then read the sample using a UV light.  Samples that are positive for E.coli fluoresce under the light and we can quantify how much E.coli is present based on the portion of the tray that is fluorescing.  We have 5 samples worth of reagent left at this point and would be happy to run samples if you can get them to us.  There are pretty tight time limits for the samples to be considered valid (they need to be processed within 6 hrs), which may make that difficult.  

You might consider contacting Jenna Guarino, a watershed education consultant with Ecotone Education here in Vermont, that we've worked with and who has done some water quality work using petri dishes in the past.  She's a great resource and I'd be happy to connect you.  Jenna developed many of the materials that we use with school groups (available at

There may also be some folks at the Agency of Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Conservation who may be good resources.  Jim Kellogg comes to mind, he supervises macroinvertebrate sampling for the state and also is the contact for a program called the LaRosa program, which among other things tests water samples for bacteria.  I'm not sure if the state would be able to help you out by running samples, but I'd be happy to connect you with them if it would be helpful.

Let me know if I can be of help or if you'd like to talk in more detail about any of these options.  Good luck!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Skyping with Norwich University Students


  We have been working for several weeks now with students from the Norwich University Environmental Studies class.

They have been helping us with our water studies, running water tests for students that we can't do here at school.

We have been Skyping with them...

 and they came to visit us on November 12th, to take a look at our river, show us how to take flow rate measurements, and answer our questions.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Using Digital Probes for Water Tests

 Students have been using digital water test devices at the river.  These Vernier test devices allow us to view, collect, and analyze data from our studies.

This equipment was purchased with a grant from VSAC.  Thank you  VSAC.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Macro-Invertebrate Studies

We have been bringing our classes down to the river once a week for the last 3 or 4 weeks.
The weather has been warm and pleasant, and the water level has been low enough for the students to wade across.
 We recently did a macroinvertebrate study where the students took a tally of all the different macroinvertebrates they found.  It is a way to measure the health of the river.
   Lots of Caddisfly and Mayfly larvae means low pollution levels. We found pretty high numbers.
We will keep this data and compare it to future data at different locations, or different times of the year.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

We have been taking our students to the River. While there, we have been exploring the riverbank to look for evidence of wild life, erosion, pollution, etc.

Click this link to see a short video