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Ashley is a Grade 11 student at Beaconsfield High School, she was addressing her sponsoring Rotary Club in Montreal.
 
 “I have two younger siblings, a brother and a sister. I live in Beaconsfield and I love to get involved in everything I can, especially in the sciences. I really have a passion for that. I hope to pursue environmental science in the future; it’s some-thing that really interests me, so I was really excited when this opportunity was offered to me. It’s not only in my field of interest, but it’s something special.
“So let me tell you about the trip and the impact it has had on me. The whole adventure really started for me at the end of my Grade 10 year when I first learned about it. I got to talk to Emily Laflèche, who went on this Adventure the year before, and she told me how wonderful it was. That got me even more excited. Then I had the whole summer to think about it, and building up my expectations, right up to the weekend before.
 
“And it still surpassed all my expectations. It was an amazing experience, and I am so grateful that I got to do it.”
With the help of a slide show filled with pictures of her experience, Ashley told us what they did each day.
On Day 1 we arrived in Cornwall, Ontario. There were seven of us, all from different places, so I got to meet new people and make new friends. The first day we went to the Saint Lawrence River Institute of Environmental Sciences, which is where we spent most of our time. With fish sampling, a discussion of the river’s ecology led by Dr. Brian Hickey, fish processing (measuring, weighing, tagging and a presentation on the American Eel, it was jam-packed from the very first day.
“For fish sampling, we got to catch our own fish and see what researchers do with them and how they gather information. So it was a process where we were an actual part of the research and we got to create a bigger picture of it.
“One fish we looked at, specifically was the cutlip minnow, which is becoming extinct in the Saint Lawrence River. We learned how to tie them and how to count them. We also learned that they have a tri-lobed bottom lip that allows them to pick up rocks and make a little house under water out of rocks. That was pretty interesting.
“In man in the picture is Dr. Brian Hickey, who studies and majors in bats. He told us how he convinced them to let him study bats at the River Institute.
On Day 2 we got a guided tour of the Moses-Saunders Dam for Ontario Power Generation (OPG). It crosses the St. Lawrence, one side in Canada, the other in New York State.
“We also saw an eel ladder they had there and we had a special presentation that explained the impact of dams as well as how much they help us. We had had a presentation on eels the day before so we were very interested in the eel ladder.
The eel population had been dwindling because they were dying while passing through turbines. We didn’t see the eels climbing the eel ladder because eels are nocturnal, but we got to see them at the end.
“Later that day we had a salamander presentation by Matt Ellerbeck, an expert in the field. He explained how important the salamanders are to our eco-system, yet are being ignored.
On Day 3 we visited the Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, where more than 130 species of wetland birds breed. We also studied zooplankton and invertebrate sampling techniques. That night we were going to go to a bat cave; unfortunately that didn’t happen but we went to this forest where we set up huge bat nets, hoping to catch a bat, with Dr. Brian Hickey. We didn’t catch one but it was pretty cool anyways. We could hear the sonar noises they made as they flew by but the bats were just too clever to get caught in our net. The night hike through the forest was truly beautiful.
On Day 4 we took most of our data and actually contributed to a research project at the SLRI laboratory, where we entered our own data and studied certain samples of water from the St. Lawrence River to analyze and determine water quality. They told us they would actually keep our data for their records. It was a real lab with real equipment made just to study water quality; it was pretty amazing to be part of that.
“We had a wrap-up discussion with members of the Rotary Club of Cornwall Sunrise.
 
All in all it was a really amazing experience and I’m so glad I got to go. For me it brought science to a whole new level. All around us were things we just couldn’t see, the tiny zooplankton and the bats at night, even the fish, all things that we just take for granted and don’t think about, except for experts who do all the thinking for us. It’s so much more than classroom science and it was all because you guys make this kind of adventure available to young people like me. I want to thank you all so much!”
      The Lakeshorian for Tuesday, February 28th, 2017
 
 
 
 
Lily was another one of eight students who took part in the Adventures in the Environment program that is organized by our club in cooperation with the St. Lawrence River Institute. She spoke to us about her impressions and experiences as a participant in the Adventures in the Environment. Highlights included a visit to the bat caves; actually seeing the eel ladder from the bottom and saw eels climb the eel ladder at the Power Dam and she actually held an eel. The experience of working with professional researchers at the St. Lawrence River. started with her putting a bucket in the water and checking the contents under a microscope where she tested St. Lawrence River water for E.coli. She remarked that she really enjoyed the 5-day experience. “It was not like Labs in school, it was the real thing!”
 
 
 
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