Peconic River in the Fall
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Program Overview
The program begins by pairing interested teachers/districts with open space parcels nearby, often within the school district boundaries.  This way, students will care for a parcel of land in their own neighborhood.  Teachers then attend the summer teacher workshops to learn various monitoring and research techniques taught by BNL and FERN.  Lesson plans are developed to include stewardship activities as part of the year’s curriculum and provide data needed by the land manager. 

Children in early grades will work on less complex projects - as simple as noting litter frequency or counting species.  Middle school and high school students may analyze water and soil samples, or they may assess the presence and impact of animal and insect populations.  Advanced high school and college students can undertake projects such as plant and animal DNA analysis and may mentor younger students. 

Below are suggested parameters to be collected in the various habitats studied.  Each teacher works with the land manager to determine the specific needs of the parcel.  Habitats include forested areas, rivers, and wetlands across Long Island. 

Parameters of general interest

Forest Parameters

Water Parameters

GPS location of samples
Barometric pressure
Wind direction and velocity
Cloud cover
Name of data recorder

Biodiversity assessment (including plants, animals, insects, & invasive species)

Leaf litter depth
Soil pH and moisture
(porosity, permeability)

Understory assessments
Soil content analysis
Fire loading/modeling

Biodiversity assessment
Total dissolved solids, conductivity/salinity

Dissolved oxygen
Bacteria content – steady state and post storm runoff

Data collected by students is recorded in a central database held at BNL and accessible though the OSSP website.  This data will be available to all teachers within the program and will allow for their students conduct comparisons with students in other schools.  FERN will provide technical support for these teachers and their students.  The data will be analyzed for trends, indicators and other related parameters.  Findings will be reported to the property steward. 

This program provides an additional method for teachers to reinforce student research skills, particularly in the areas of math and science.  The opportunity also offers students a taste of the work and may lead to a career.  Of equal importance, it fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility for their neighborhoods and for all open space. 

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