FOR Educator Nancy Stalik showcasing how to sample for Phosphates.

Friends of the Rappahannock (FOR) teamed up with the Culpeper Soil and Water Conservation District, Virginia Department of Forestry, Natural Resource Conservation Service, volunteers, and hundreds of local students to spend several days collecting data and learning stream assessment techniques on the Rose River in Madison County.

FOR lead students as they took chemical water tests to sample for nitrate, phosphate, dissolved oxygen, pH, ammonia, temperature, and turbidity. These metrics are very important in determining the health of a stream and whether it can provide for the beneficial uses as required by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This type of test can be used in the field next to a river or stream as well as in the classroom.

Another station, lead by FOR programs manager, challenged student to perform an assessment of the physical characteristics of the stream. Students used a variety of survey equipment to determine cross sections, longitudinal profiles, water depth, bank elevation, and flow of the stream. After the data was collected, everyone graphed the results of their measurements and had to calculate slope and the flow rate of the stream. These measurements are very important when designing a stream restoration project or calculating erosion rates.

Eastern View HS students surveying a cross section

The FOR Student Stream Team program began with the goal of working with our local soil and water conservation districts to provide students with high quality field experiences to learn about stream restoration, sample water quality, and install projects. Over the past 10 years, we have had the pleasure of working with thousands of students throughout the watershed to raise and release brook trout, restore riparian buffers, build floating treatment wetlands, test for water quality, sample macroinvertebrates, and engage in the classroom. The opportunity to spend a couple days at on the Rose River at Graves Mountain Lodge allowed us to work with over 100 students from Eastern View High School and Wetsel Middle School.  Special thanks to Stephanie DiNicola for organizing the field days and including the FOR team in this wonderful program!