LAKE PLEASANT – The Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted our 42nd annual Field Day to spotlight conservation for fifth and sixth graders, who were rewarded for their knowledge of natural resource protection during essay and poster contest ceremonies.
On Sept. 22, 2022, sixty-six area students traveled to our District for the 42nd annual Lynn Galusha Memorial Conservation Field Day. Armed with graphic organizers, kids hiked the Adirondack Ecotrail to six stations and jotted down notes during each presenter’s talk that they later used for their contest entries.
Doug McCluskey of Everett J Prescott taught students that compost socks can be used on construction sites to prevent pollution from entering Adirondack lakes and streams. Matthew Olson of the Natural Resources Conservation Service showed kids how rivers get their shape with a stream table.
Tom Collins of Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute demonstrated how landscape development can impact lake water quality with a watershed model. Christine Campeau and Faith Ordonio of the Adirondack Experience the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake shared the slogan “a fed bear is a dead bear” during their Living with Bears presentation.
Students learned about sheep and solar grazing with Jamila Page of Cornell Cooperative Extension Hamilton. Hemlock woolly adelgid and beech leaf disease were the hot topic with Shaun Kittle, Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.
After lunch, Conservation Field Day concluded with the final presentation given by Chris Murphy of Trout Power, and kids discovered how people are researching and protecting heritage strain brook trout.
Fifth grade students drew posters, and sixth grade students wrote essays that illustrated the topic that, in their opinion, best conserves Hamilton County’s natural resources. District Directors Vicki Buyce and Betsy Bain judged entries with rubrics.
“It was my extreme pleasure to judge these posters and paragraphs from Conservation Field Day,” said contest judge and District Chairwoman Vicki Buyce. “The level of knowledge and creativity they implemented in their work was impressive, and their hard work was refreshing to see. I hope next year’s Field Day inspires more interest and learning of this amazing world we live in.”
Awards ceremonies were held at each school where all participating students received a certificate of merit. Class-wide and overall first, second, and third place winners received certificates and ribbons.
The first place sixth-grade essay contest winner is Elia Reenders, Lake Pleasant Central School, and the first place fifth-grade poster contest winner is Adeliz Ruiz, Lake Pleasant Central School. Their names were engraved on plaques to be displayed at their schools.
The other sixth-grade essay contest winners are: second, Vinnie Lauria, Wells Central School, and third, Savannah Irvin, Wheelerville Union Free School. The other fifth-grade poster contest winners are: second, Leah Baker, Wells Central School, and third, Katelyn Comeau, Wheelerville Union Free School.
Conservation Field Day provides students an immersive, place-based experience with relatable topics presented by conservation experts. The contests spur creative thinking about why conservation is important. All students did a beautiful job with their entries.
THE WINNING ESSAY
By Elia Reenders, Lake Pleasant Central School
The station “What Makes a Species Invasive?” presented by S. Kittle is a very important topic for everyone to know about because it could affect all of Hamilton County’s forests. A lot of the wildlife depends on beach and hemlock trees for food, shelter, and more.
The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and Beech tree disease are invasive species. A species is any living thing, but an invasive species is a species that is not native to the location it is invasive to and causes harm. A native species is a species that is original to the area. Invasive species spread and grow quickly making them hard to control, and they crowd out the native species. S. Kittle Said, “Invasive kill native species.” Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and Beech tree disease are not originally from around here and negatively affect the new environment.
Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and Beech tree disease could not only greatly decrease the population of hemlock beech trees, but harshly affect our forests too. Hemlock Wooly Adelgid could leave the rabbits with one less source of food accessible during winter. The Beech tree disease could send bears tearing into trash cans even more because their main choice of food is gone. As the number of trees decrease, river banks collapse, the roots no longer would be there to hold them up, and so killing the eggs that might be beside them. S. Kittle explained, “It all goes downhill if there aren’t any beach or hemlock trees.” The animals would no longer have the bark and leaves the beech tree to eat, and we would not have the wood. The forest would become smaller, meaning less room for the animals. Beech and hemlock trees are very important natural resources, if these two trees are in danger then the rest of the forest also are.
These two invasives could greatly harm our forests. The animals would be less plentiful on food, erosion would be more of a problem, and we would no longer have some of the resources that we love all if the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and Beech tree disease took over the beech and hemlock trees.
The District has been working to manage and promote the wise use of natural resources in Hamilton County since 1965. For more information go to www.hamiltoncountyswcd.org or call 518-548-3991.