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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Ford Field Park, Dearborn, Michigan, USA

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Ford Field Park, Dearborn, Michigan, USA
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Registered: December 2010
City/Town/Province: detroit
Posts: 1
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I am the oldest child of eight living in an inner city environment and want very much to attend college. We have seven girls and one boy in our family and I will be the first to complete a college degree and go on to graduate school. I want to set an example for my sisters and lead the way for each one of them to do the same. Until my science teacher arrived in the building I never would have thought it possible to accomplish this goal. She showed me that only my doubts could hold me back and that even a child in an inner city can make a difference in our local and global environment. She required us to select and follow through with a science project that we would use for the county science fair and that would impact our community as well. She set the example by getting our school involved in the Rouge River project and having us go out in the field and conduct chemical and physical tests while also checking out the benthic population. I chose to take the Saturday training so I could be one that went in the water and gathered the benthic samples. Who knew that looking at little tiny bugs could be so important?! Doing work on this river opened my mind to the environment. This river’s past had affected the river’s ecosystem and broke my heart. I now have such a love for my work that to me it is not considered work, but my passion.
I wanted to see if our work would help to improve the Rouge River. The lower branch is near my home and empties out into the Detroit River. It has a history of being disgusting and smelly. I wanted to see if I could help to improve the water quality going out into the Detroit River by improving the Rouge River lower branch. The site I worked with is located in Dearborn, Michigan, at the Ford Field Park. For two years I collected water samples, and performed various chemical testing on them. I also examined benthic samples which I collected to determine if the health of the river was improving. The observed the physical conditions and kept a log of all these parameters. I used training manuals from the Rouge Education Project and relied heavily on the following book: Field Manual for Water Quality Monitoring: An Environmental Education Program for Schools which is written by Mark Mitchell. The chemical tests I performed through out this time are: Dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, TDS (total dissolved solids), hardness, copper, nitrogen/nitrates, fecal coliform, phosphates and temperatures. I used the LaMotte test kits for these to maintain consistency.
I conducted these tests throughout each season for a period of two years. It was not so much fun during December when we were freezing but it had to be done! I reported my results to the Rouge Education Project office, especially when I took temperature readings a mile apart and found that there was a significant difference in water temperature on either side of the storm drain flowing into the river. It turned out that there was illegal affluent emptying into the river!
I did not know at the time that the city of Dearborn would be interested in my work as they were building a river monitoring station at the western edge of the area I was testing. It was only a few hundred feet from where the affluent was entering the river. During the building of this station, the benthic life was really affected: in fact it was almost nonexistent! I was very concerned and expressed my feeling to the staff at the REP. I kept a log of the condition of the river until after it was finished. However, once finished, the benthic life returned. The exciting part about this was the continued improvement of the benthic life once the affluent was removed. The fecal coliform remained high due to the large amount of geese inhabiting the park but the macroinvertebrates continued to be diverse and plentiful.
The city of Dearborn asked to see my chemical test results and the record of benthic samples I had kept. I did not know that they were aware of my work but the REP staff had informed them about me when the city asked them for data. I was proud to be able to give them copies of my work and show them what was going on with “my” river.
While this was an exciting program, I had no idea how these seemingly little pieces of information would be so important to my community and to the Great Lakes as well. I mentioned earlier that this river flows directly into the Detroit River which also connects the Great Lakes. The area I worked in is pretty to look at but still carries poison that affects everywhere the water travels. This includes my city and those area me for we draw our drinking water from here. I will never forget how my teacher took us to the mouth of the Rouge River when we first began the school trip: it smells really bad and there are dead boats lying in it and oil over the top of the water. She got all of us out to look at the water and she said: “Welcome to your drinking water.” I will never forget that as long as I live! We all yelled: Yuck! This project of mine may be small but I believe it helped to open the eyes of the community and help them to see their responsibility in taking care of our water. I read in my research that the water had the Rouge had been so badly polluted that they said it could never be salvaged. Those people should see it now because it had improved. My data shows that. The schools that come every year collect data that shows some improvement. The fact that benthic life even exists is proof that we can help to restore the river over time.
Personally, I have come to see that this is an area I can make a difference in. I want to attend university so I can be formally trained and work in a field where I can utilize skills I have gained here and find ways that can keep the Great Lakes safe for our future and research ways to control invasive species and perhaps restore our freshwater systems to its former glory. It is a wonderful resource that I never realized was so close to me and so magnificent! I want to continue my research and compare what we have done to other areas to seek out better, improved means to stabilize the aquatic life and still enjoy the water for recreational use as well.
I hope to seek an internship at GLERL where my research might benefit the river as well. This is the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor.
Date: December 31, 2010 Views: 8601 File size: 23.5kb, 98.0kb : 509 x 685
Hours Volunteered: 3200
Volunteers: 2
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 17 to 54
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Registered: May 2011
City/Town/Province: Murrieta
Posts: 1
May 3, 2011 11:46pm

Amazing Job! I'm happy to know that there are people out there as young as me who are really dedicated to saving our world. Thank you for your efforts.