Students from VCS conduct watershed study

VCS students Henry Sadler, Ross Hiatt, and Adrian Kelly conduct watershed study.

by Peter Goff, VCS science teacher
This spring, a hearty band of Vermont Commons School (VCS) seventh, ninth, and eleventh graders worked in the Bartlett Brook watershed to better understand some recent changes and also how to address some of those changes. The semester began with a workshop with Jim Pease of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. Pease tasked the group with recording the erosion in the lake-ward streams in the watershed. The lack of snow this winter really helped the students effectively document aggradation, degradation, and other stream-wide changes.
On non-field days, the groups led presentations on endangered or invasive species in the watershed, or class discussions on Environmental Management issues. Examples included presentations on Vermont wild cats, polluted rivers catching fire, and the fate of Vermont’s bat populations. On one particularly warm February day (80 degrees and sunny), the group spent the afternoon clearing trash out of Pine Haven Shores Brook. The students removed a mini-bus full of trash, including; construction debris, old pipes, barbed-wire, sediment-embedded-tarps/carpets, and other miscellaneous trash.
Once VCS students gathered enough data, the findings were presented to Pease and a long-time resident/homeowner. Our community partners were so impressed that they arranged for the group to present to the South Burlington Natural Resources Committee (SBNRC), and the Shelburne Natural Resources Committee. Ninth grader Adrian Kelly of Shelburne and seventh grader Will Shane were first to present to the SBNRC.
The following week, a local television station filmed the class in the field and while that story was being aired, VCS juniors Henry Sadler and Ross Hiatt and seventh-grader Sean Kerr presented the results of the work to the Town of Shelburne. The bordering towns agreed to consider changing their zoning systems to better protect this rapidly changing watershed.

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