LHF | By Jess Murphy: Over the course of five weeks this spring, the Lake Hopatcong Foundation welcomed more than 1,200 students to Hopatcong State Park in a series of 12 field trip dates (11 of them dry!), which is a 50 percent increase in student numbers compared to last year.
During their time at our field trip program, students from 20 schools throughout northern New Jersey visited four different activity sessions led by Lake Hopatcong Foundation staff and volunteers:
Hands-on learning aboard the Floating Classroom – Students are taken aboard the floating classroom for hands-on learning about lake ecology and water quality which will include testing for water quality with secchi disks; measuring pH levels, dissolved oxygen, and temperature; and viewing water samples through microscopes to see live phytoplankton.
Macroinvertebrate sampling in the Musconetcong River – Students learn about aquatic macroinvertebrates and how to determine water quality through exploration of the Musconetcong River.
Discovery hike through Hopatcong State Park – Students are introduced to the role development and forested areas play in the health of the lake environment.
Interactive watershed model – Students learn about watersheds and how to keep our water clean through an EnviroScape demonstration.
Although the majority of students were fourth- and fifth-graders, we also welcomed high school students from the Morris County Vo-Tech Environmental Science Academy at Jefferson Township High School, and from an environmental science class at Lenape Valley High School. We also hosted two groups of middle school students from special needs programs in Morris County.
The trips would not be possible without an incredible group of educators and volunteers who help teach the students at each station and shepherd them around Hopatcong State Park. From guiding the students as they identify macroinvertebrates (on our new Zarbeco digital microscopes, thanks to the FirstEnergy Foundation and Investors Foundation!), to helping students use secchi disks off the Floating Classroom, to talking big-picture concepts about human and development’s impact on watersheds, our education team shows patience, enthusiasm, and knowledge, day after day, during our program. And our volunteers who help lead groups of students from station to station help keep everything on track. We cannot thank this team enough!
I always say that I’m proud of everything we do at the LHF, whether related to water quality, safety, recreation, or community building. But I don’t think there’s anything we do that’s more important for the future of Lake Hopatcong than teaching the next generation how to protect it and take care of it. Many thanks to everyone who made our spring field trip program such a success!
(To learn about the summer floating classroom excursions, click here! And stay tuned for information about fall 2019 and spring 2020 field trips.)
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