Archive for the ‘Education & Outreach’ Category

Made a Splash

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Every year the quiet and sleepy St. Jones Reserve, and our neighbor the John Dickinson Plantation, get a shot of life and excitement when fourth grade students from across Delaware descend on our properties.  No it’s not an attack; it’s our annual Make a Splash Water Festival.  The festival, now in its sixteenth year, provides a fun and educational day for students to explore the importance of water resources in our past, present, and future. This year’s festival held on March 31st brought together almost 650 students from all three counties and close to 100 water resource and historical professionals!

Photo Credit Gene Shaner 2015

Photo Credit Gene Shaner 2015

The festival is set up so that students spend half of their day at the St. Jones Reserve and the other half at the John Dickinson Plantation.  At the Reserve students are introduced to the “how” and “what” of water through activities like the “Incredible Journey”, an interactive game about the water cycle.  Each student is given a colored bead that represents where they are in the water cycle, if they were a droplet of water.  Then using number cubes the students play a game where they are sent through the cycle, and along the way collect different colored beads to represent where they have been. In the end each student has a colorful bracelet that acts as a visual representation of a water droplet’s journey through the water cycle.  This is just one of thirteen options the students had to learn about water at the St. Jones Reserve. Once the students thoroughly explore the “how” and “what” of water they travel to the John Dickinson Plantation to learn the “why”.

MAS_2015_Gene_Shaner (11)

Photo Credit Gene Shaner 2015

To understand the “why” the John Dickinson Plantation is used as a case study to show how the plantation relied on water and the St. Jones River in the 1700’s.  Some presentations include how traditional colonial beverages were made and the types of food that were harvested from the St. Jones River.  In addition to learning about water use in colonial food making, they also learn about the role it played in the settling and growth of the colonies.  At one station students participate in the  “Starting a Colony” game, presented by the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation, where they explore the decision making that went into planning a trip from Europe to Delaware in the 1600’s. From what supplies to bring, to where to start a new colony in Delaware students learn how factors like water shaped these decisions. (To learn more about the “Starting a Colony” lesson plan visit the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation’s webpage.)  Once students have visited both sides of the festival they head out for the day leaving space for the next round of students to arrive and learn about Delaware’s water resources.

By the end of the trip the students have a better understanding of why water is such an important resource here in Delaware.  This understanding will lead to next generation of water resources stewards.

 

And a special thank you is in order for all the hard work and donations that are given every year to ensure this great event can continue!

Sponsors: Tidewater Utilities; Terra Systems, Inc.; Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Watershed Stewardship; Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, John Dickinson Plantation; The Friends of the John Dickinson Plantation; The Delaware Association of Conservation Districts; The Project WET Foundation; The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve.   

Make a Splash Planning Committee: The Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve; Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, John Dickinson Plantation; The Delaware Association of Conservation Districts; DNREC Division of Watershed Stewardship, DNREC Division of Water; DNERC Division of Parks and Recreation; and Tidewater Utilities.     

Volunteers and Presenters: Delaware Department of Agriculture; Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve; Delaware Nature Society; Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs; The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary; Kent Conservation District; New Castle Conservation District; Sussex Conservation District; Tidewater Utilities; Envirotech Inc.; the Kalmar Nyckel Foundation;  and Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, Office of Drinking Water

 

To learn more about the event or to support it in the future please contact our Education Coordinator Maggie Pletta at Margaret.Pletta@state.de.us.

To view more photos from the day visit our Facebook (DNERR) and view our Make a Splash 2015 album!

All Hands on Deck!

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

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Calling all horseshoe crab and shorebird enthusiasts to the decks of the S.S. Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve!  Here is your chance to act like a DNERR scientist and do your part to help protect and conserve our horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds.  As part of an effort to better understand how many horseshoe crabs exist in the Delaware Bay a spawning survey is coordinated between several groups in Delaware and New Jersey.

Here in Delaware DNERR is one of the organizations that take part in the surveys.   We coordinate spawning surveys on three local beaches (Kitts Hummock, Ted Harvey, and North Bowers) sending trained volunteers out to collect data on our spawning horseshoe crabs.  To get our volunteers ready to complete the important task of surveying the spawning crabs we offer trainings for both our returning and new volunteers.   This year the trainings dates have been set for Saturday, April 11 from 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and Thursday, April 16 from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at the St. Jones Reserve located south of Dover.

We hope you join us this year!
The DNERR Horseshoe Crab Survey Coordinators

 

 

New Places and New Faces

Monday, February 16th, 2015

It has been a long while since we had a new blog post, and this is due in part to the changing of our guard.  Last summer our Education Coordinator Jennifer Holmes decided it was time to spread her wings and left the reserve to follow a personal dream of hers and took a traditional teaching position in a local school.  Although her energy and leadership are missed we are very proud and happy of her for following her dreams.  This departure left a gap in our staff that we filled in late November with our new Education Coordinator Maggie Pletta.

Maggie_PlettaWe want to take the time to today to formally welcome Maggie aboard and share with you a little background information about her.  Maggie holds a B.S. in Environmental Restoration and Management, with a focus on wetland habitats from the University of Maryland College Park. She joins the team with over 9 years of experience in interpretation and education from her time spent working for organizations like the National Park Service, NASA, Educational Non-Profits, and DNREC’s Wetland Monitoring and Assessment Program. Not only does she bring her years of experiences to the Reserve, but also her overwhelming enthusiasm and excitement for all things estuarine. In her free time she plays rugby, cooks, kayaks, volunteers with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and goes on adventures with her dog Congo.

We are excited to see what is in store for our Education programs with Maggie on board!

Uncovering Winter’s Mysteries

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

20131126_114712_resizedThis fall the trees here at the Reserve were absolutely gorgeous with the deep reds, vibrant yellows, and fiery organges displayed in their leaves.  As each leaf drops and fall turns to winter we are not as captivated by the trees but they still remain a significant feature in our landscape.  Have you ever wondered how the trees maintain their identity after losing their leaves?  Too often, we pass by and cannot identify one tree from another and just group them as “trees.” 

Recently, the Reserve had the wonderful opportunity to partner with Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge to help folks appreciate the numerous tree species we have in Delaware by offering a winter tree identification program.  Staff from both the Reserve and the Refuge demonstrated how to use identification skills and field guides to uncover the mystery of each tree’s identity.  It provided the program participants an opportunity to explore areas of the Refuge and the Blackbird Creek Reserve to put their new found skills to the test.  It is truly amazing to look closely at the beauty of the trees through their bark, twigs, buds, and leaf scars.  Oh what a story they could tell if only they could speak.  We hope you have an opportunity to go exploring this winter and look a little closer at your surroundings. You may be surprised by what you see.

Destination: Lake Superior, Wisconsin

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Interested in visiting a freshwater estuary?  The National Estuarine Research Reserve system added another Reserve site in October 2010 raising the number of Reserves to 28 around the United States.   The Lake Superior NERR is comprised of approximately 16,000 acres and is located along the confluence of the St. Louis River and Lake Superior.   You may see some familiar habitats within their Reserve boundary including freshwater marshes, sandy  beaches, and dunes.   Have you visited all 28 Reserves?   We encourage you to do so and you can start by visiting the Lake Superior NERR or stop by and see us here in Delaware.  For more information on the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve visit them on the web and for information on the Delaware NERR please visit our website or like us on Facebook.

Destination: Old Woman Creek, Ohio

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Many east coasters have heard of brackish water estuaries…where rivers meet the sea.  But, have you ever heard of a freshwater estuary?  The National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System actually has two freshwater estuaries…Old Woman Creek in Ohio and Lake Superior in Wisconsin.  Freshwater estuaries do not contain salt water but rather, are combinations of river and lake water (large lakes).  The river water and lake water are chemically different and the estuary tends to be driven by storm surges and seiches (shifting of lake water) rather than tides. Today’s destination is the Old Woman Creek NERR located on the southwestern shore of Lake Erie just east of Huron, Ohio.  It was the first freshwater estuary adopted into the NERR System in 1980.  Old Woman Creek NERR encompasses approximately 573 acres and includes critical spawning and nursery ground for many recreational and commercial  fisheries including crappie, blue gill, and channel catfish.  So, if you are taking a trip near Huron, Ohio stop in and visit the Old Woman Creek Reserve!   For more information about freshwater estuaries visit the estuaries.gov website and to learn more about Old Woman Creek NERR visit them on their website.

Learning from the River

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

How better to learn about a watershed than to experience it? On July 12, 2012 teachers from several states participated in a watershed tour of the St. Jones River coordinated by the Reserve in collaboration with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (the Partnership).  The tour is one component of the Partnership’s annual watershed workshop for teachers.   The teachers explored the history, habitats, impacts, and the restoration efforts occurring in and along the St. Jones River in Kent County, Delaware.  At each stop along the tour teachers had the opportunity to interact with scientists, resource managers, and environmental educators about the importance of the St. Jones River; how it was impacted in the past; what impacts it today; and how it is being protected for tomorrow.   If you want to learn more about the St. Jones River visit the St. Jones Reserve south of the Dover Air Force Base in Dover, DE.

The Land Where Our Forefather Roamed

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

If you have ever visited the St. Jones Reserve you may know that we are neighbors of the John Dickinson Plantation.  At one time the St. Jones Reserve property was owned by the Dickinson family during the 18th century.   Mr. Dickinson was called the “Penman of the Revolution” because he was known for his Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies.  John was a politician but he identified himself as a farmer.   His cattle once grazed on salt meadow hay in the upper marsh surrounding the St. Jones River. He also saw the need to be a conservationist.  As he watched the trees in the area being depleted, he instituted a policy on his land where only dead tree material was to be utilized for building and repair. 

If you are looking for something to do this 4th of July week , visit the John Dickinson Plantation and the St. Jones Reserve to see the land where our forefather once roamed.  For more information about John Dickinson and the Plantation visit the John Dickinson Plantation on the web.  Please note that the Reserve and Plantation are closed on the 4th but opened other days of the week.

Destination Location: Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, Georgia

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Looking for a unique destination rich in history, culture, and exploration?  Then Sapleo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR) is the place to go.  Located on Sapelo Island, the fourth largest barrier island in Georgia, the SINERR encompasses 6,110 acres of land consisting of maritime forest, hammock land, and tidal salt marsh.  When visiting the Reserve be on the look-out for egrets, herons, fiddler crabs, ospreys, woodstorks, alligators and brown pelicans. Sapelo Island is just as rich in human history as it is in natural history.  In fact, the island’s human history dates back 4,500 years which makes visiting this Reserve a great trip for history and nature enthusiasts alike.  Enjoy the warmth of Georgia and visit the Sapleo Island National Esturaine Research Reserve, one of 28 Reserves around the United States.   For more information about SINERR visit them on the web

Destination: Jobos Bay, Puerto Rico

Monday, January 30th, 2012

It’s been a fairly mild winter; however, I do find myself daydreaming of warmer places.  The National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) has 28 Reserves around the United States and its territories of which the Delaware NERR is apart.    One of the Reserves I have wanted to visit is Jobos Bay in Aguirre, Puerto Rico.  This Reserve was adopted into the national system in 1981.   With approximately 3,300 acres, Jobos Bay NERR encompasses a wide variety of habitats including mangrove forests, subtropical dry forests, sea grass beds, salt flats, and coral reefs.  It is home to animals such as the peregrine falcon, West Indian manatee, brown pelicans, and hawksbill turtles.  Jobos Bay would make a great destination!  For more information about Jobos Bay NERR visit them on Facebook and on the National Estuarine Research Reserve website.  Keep checking back for the next Reserve Destination location.