In an effort to inspire the next generation of environmentalists, thousands of students from 80 schools across New York state transformed into scientists for a day during the 21st annual "Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor" event. Hosted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), this hands-on exploration of the Hudson River Estuary connected students with the natural world and with the goal of providing valuable insights into potential environmental careers.
Students, ranging from elementary school to college, converged on more than 80 locations spanning from New York City to the Capital Region. Armed with scientific equipment and guided by DEC representatives, they delved into the intricacies of the Hudson River ecosystem.
"There's a bunch of schools up and down the Hudson Harbor that are looking into a snapshot of how the Hudson River is doing,” Zoe Gliosco, a fish and wildlife technician with NYS DEC, said. “It's so integral to the culture and history of New York state and the ecosystem health of the state itself."
The students actively participated in data collection, including assessments of water chemistry and fish species present in the river. These real-world experiments enabled them to understand the dynamic nature of the Hudson River ecosystem.
The event's aim goes beyond science education.
"It's a great opportunity to really connect students to this wonderful resource and asset here in New York state and really help us drive forward on the science,” Sean Mahar, executive deputy commissioner of NYS DEC, stated.
The DEC intends to show students potential career paths in environmental stewardship and conservation.
"I want to study Animal Sciences, like zoology and stuff,” Anwesha Saha, a senior at Berkshire Waldorf High School, said. “Also, I'm interested in marine biology, so probably it's going to help me. It's going to help me."
Participating students gain hands-on experience that can influence their career choices, fostering a sense of responsibility toward preserving vital natural resources like the Hudson River.
The "Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor" event also hoped to underscore the importance of individual choices in environmental conservation. DEC representatives encouraged students to consider how their daily decisions, such as reducing pesticide and fertilizer use, can positively impact water quality and the environment.
"Thinking about our personal choices in our fight against climate change, from purchasing electric vehicles to going solar, can have a really big and lasting impact on environmental resources like the Hudson River here," explained Mahar.
All the data collected during the event contributes to a large database that informs DEC's decision-making processes. It guides resource management, including fisheries and water quality improvements, as well as infrastructure upgrades aimed at reducing runoff into the river.
As students engage with science and environmental issues, DEC hopes that they will take these lessons home, sparking conversations about responsible environmental choices with their families.
For more information about the event and the Department of Environmental Conservation's initiatives, visit DEC's official website at dec.ny.gov.