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For episode three of Stroud Water Research Center‘s 2022 Science Seminar Series, Michael Hartshorne, Director of Aquatics at Princeton Hydro (and former Stroud Center intern), gave a presentation about the ecological status of the Schuylkill River and shared the story of a yearlong community science project that included a volunteer survey and scientific water quality assessment. Stroud Center’s Science Seminar lecture series, which provides an opportunity for the public to learn more about the issues that matter to them, has been running for over a decade. It also gives the public access to some of the world’s leading freshwater scientists and educators and the chance to learn how watershed science and education are tackling water-related challenges.
As described in Michael’s presentation, the project, which included four phases, was implemented through a partnership between the Schuylkill River Greenways, Berks Nature, Bartram’s Garden, The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Stroud Center, and Princeton Hydro.
First, to understand local perceptions of the river, investigators conducted a community survey of more than 300 residents from Berks, Chester, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Despite a majority of respondents reporting that they care about the river, many also reported concerns about trash and litter and whether the river is clean and safe enough for activities like swimming and fishing. This insight was used to drive the priorities for the in-depth water quality monitoring assessment and inspired the launch of a new Community Science trash monitoring program.
In June, the group launched an interactive ArcGIS StoryMap webpage that reveals the local perceptions of the Schuylkill River and aims to connect residents and communities with the Schuylkill River and encourage engagement with this special resource.
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