Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Rivers to Reefs 2014
Mission Information

Friday: June 27, 2014
Log Day 6

Brian Nicholas; Lamar County Middle School,
   Barnesville, GA
Lisa Schwenk, Kennesaw Charter Science & Math
   Academy, Kennesaw, GA

Brian Nicholas

Brian Nicholas bravely crawls through the thick marsh mud

Brian Nicholas bravely crawls through the thick marsh mud and finds his rewards when he slides into the cool creek.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

In life, as in science, much information is known but isolated. Few know how these things affect one another. This Rivers to Reefs Educator Workshop has not only provided experiences which required me to use the knowledge and skill set that I brought with me but has also expanded on that prior knowledge and encouraged us to think globally.

Kevin listens to sournds of the river

Cathy Sakas introduces Kevin Faircloth to the sounds in the river, such as the snapping of a busy shrimp and the croaking of a noisy fish..
(Photo: Amy Rath)

We are now thinking more deeply about our immediate surroundings, our impact to our environment, and our responsibility to reduce those impacts. I have gained an even greater respect for how the water falling from the sky and flowing near our homes affects communities who live along our rivers and the animals living in the ocean.

As humans with irresponsibly habits, we risk destroying not only our physical environment, but cultures too.

Lisa Schwenk

When I signed up for this workshop, I was thinking, "Sweet - I will earn 4 Professional Learning Units while going on a mini-vacation and pick up some awesome lessons for my classroom along the way - and all for free." As our trip comes to a close now, I have an entirely different mindset. I am sad that we at the end of it. I have gained so much more than I even expected and now I have so much to share that I'm not even sure where to begin.

Lisa Schwenk holds a brittle star collected in a sediment a grab sample

Lisa Schwenk holds a brittle star collected in a sediment a grab sample.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

During our introductions on last Sunday, I could not have imagined just how close we would all become to one another in only a week. But on our marsh crawl this closeness became quite obvious. Without hesitation, we rescued someone's stuck shoe from deep within the mud; dug around someone's stuck leg without even giving it a second thought. This trip definitely took me outside of my comfort zone but I wouldn't trade my new experiences for anything in the world.

This coming school-year, when I teach my 2nd grade students about Georgia's rivers, I can't wait to share with them my canoe trip. I'll explain the way that we paddled down the Oconee River to have lunch on the tri-river sandbar, learned about where the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers meet to become the Altamaha River, paddled further down the Altamaha River, and even sampled and tested the waters of the rivers. I look forward to sharing our photos of these areas so that they can visualize the beautiful habitats. I will be incorporating these new concepts into the science, math, history and writing lessons that I am required to teach.

Serene salt marsh

Participants begin to realize now that this quiet, serene salt marsh is an even more valuable habitat, full of life and with important functions in the bigger scheme for our marine and freshwater ecosystems.
(Photo: Amy Rath)

I hope to stay in contact with others from this group and I am glad to have made new friends this week. I would like to send a HUGE "THANK YOU" to our fearless leaders who put up with our shenanigans and squeals all week. I would also like to thank the Georgia Aquarium and NOAA's Gray's Reef, Gordon State College and grant funders who made this amazing experience possible!


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