ENVS 201 2017 Rice Rivers Center Field Day
December 6, 2017
(Photo credit: Larkin Petrelles)
Each year, Dr. Vickie Connor’s Introduction to Earth System Science class (ENVS 201) visits the VCU Rice Rivers Center to experience a few typical field research activities at the center. Dr. Ed Crawford, deputy director of Rice Rivers Center, and teaching assistants Alissa Nicholsson, Hannah Coovert, Rebecca Dahlberg, and Lindsay Schneider, joined Dr. Connors and 35 students on an overcast and windy Saturday in November.
The day began with an orientation presentation by Dr. Crawford, where he shared the history of the ongoing evolution of the center. Following the presentation, the students broke into four groups of 8-10, which then rotated through different activity stations hosted by the teaching assistants.
This year’s activities included:
Canoeing and Prothontary Warbler Research — (Alissa Nicholsson)
The canoeing was difficult because of the strong winds and choppy waves on the James River. Yet, several groups did manage to enjoy the opportunity to see the Rice Rivers Center from the perspective of the river. From one of the student’s essay: “On the canoeing expedition, Alissa talked about the species that lived around the area and in the water. She also explained how the creek is tidal, meaning there is a high tide and a low tide. We canoed during the low tide time and it was very easy to touch the bottom of the water. We also got to see a blue heron and two bald eagles fighting over food during the time on the water.”
Plant (Identification) Bingo — (Rebecca Dahlberg)
Rebecca led the plant identification activity with a Plant BINGO game that was created for the 2016 Rice Rivers Center Field Day. The packet contained identification guidelines and pictures of a variety of plants found at the center. Students were asked to locate as many plants as they could find and collect samples if possible. When the students found plants either on a diagonal or straight across they were to say “BINGO!”
Rock Identification — (Hannah Coovert)
Hannah guided the rock identification activity with the assistance of a rock sample kit generously provided by Dr. Arif Sikdar, assistant professor at the Center for Environmental Studies. She had the students examine and identify several different rock types. Lindsay shared an amazing rock that her grandfather had found in Europe 80 years ago.
Measure Tree Attributes (DBH) and examining Soil Horizons from Upland to Wetland Zones— (Lindsay Schneider)
Lindsay led a nature walk to look at some trees. The students took turns measuring how much carbon each tree was taking out to the atmosphere by measuring up the tree about one meter and then taking the circumference of the tree using a DBH tape. Lindsay also encouraged the students to identify what types of trees that they passed. She then showed the students how to examine the soil horizons from the dry, upland area, down to the wetland area near Harris Creek.