From the Potomac Headwaters to the Chesapeake Bay



Stream Scholars

Summer Camp 2011

July 18-22


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Nine middle and high school students enjoyed a week participating in the 9th Annual Stream Scholars Summer Camp, a hands-on exploration of stream ecology and conservation.   The Scholars learned how adult volunteers sample streams in WV, camped and kayaked on the lower Potomac River not far from where it meets the Chesapeake Bay.  They spent the first three days in and around Waites Run at J.A. Hawkins (Wardensville Town) Park.

Stream Scholars would like to thank:


* Alana Hartman and Suzi Lucas, WV Department of Environmental Protection, for instruction;

* Westmoreland State Park (VA) for camping and a kayak trip on the Potomac River;

*  WV Conservation Agency, MARPAT Foundation and our members for financial support.


The Scholars conducted stream habitat assessments and used field equipment to measure pH, conductivity, and dissolved oxygen, an important indicator of suitable habitat for aquatic life.  On Monday, Alana Hartman, WV DEP’s Chesapeake Bay Coordinator, and WVDEP intern Suzie Lucas spoke about what they are doing to protect local waters that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.  On Tuesday, the Scholars investigated how the population of benthic macroinvertebrates (small animals without backbones that live on the stream bottom) will show if a stream is healthy or in trouble.


Wednesday was devoted to mini-projects designed by the campers.  At the end of the day, each group presented their results to their peers, who were more than happy to peer review their work.

On Thursday the Scholars headed to Westmoreland State Park, Montrose, Virginia, on the lower tidal section of the Potomac River not far from where it flows into the Chesapeake Bay.  More than four miles across at this point, the Potomac River couldn't be more different than tiny Waites Run in West Virginia, where the week began.   The original plan was for a kayak trip on the Potomac on Thursday afternoon to a tidally influenced marsh for sampling, but the 115 degree heat index Thursday afternoon was simply too dangerous.  Instead, they spent the afternoon is the park's pool.  That night, the group camped, prepared the traditional Hobo Stew for dinner, and tried to sleep in the sweltering heat.  It is always fun to watch the kids with the biggest, most complex tents work out how to put them up.

On Friday we planned in the morning to kayak to the marsh for sampling, but the day started out as dangerously hot as the previous afternoon.  Instead, we went for a short kayaking trip and later, while most of the group quite reasonably went to the pool and tried to stay cool, three intrepid souls hiked with Park Naturalist Shanna Minarik to the marsh to assess the condition of the small stream that runs through the mash into the Potomac River.  We found a lot of grass shrimp in the reeds near where the marsh entered into the Potomac River.  Further inland, the marsh waters were remarkably devoid of life.    

The Scholars all had fun, of course, but what is more important they learned serious lessons about the science of keeping our waters clean and healthy.  Grasping science early will help Stream Scholars in life.  Understand and appreciating how our local West Virginia waters are connected to the Mid Atlantic States through the Potomac and Chesapeake will help them become better citizen of the whole United States.


Cacapon Institute - From the Cacapon to the Potomac to the Chesapeake Bay, we protect rivers and watersheds using science and education.

Cacapon Institute
PO Box 68
High View, WV 26808
304-856-1385 (tele)
304-856-1386 (fax)
Click here to send us an email
Frank Rodgers,  Executive Director

Website  made possible by funding from The Norcross Wildlife Foundation,  the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Environmental Endowment, NOAA-BWET, USEPA, The MARPAT Foundation, and our generous members.