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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Serve and Protect Luncheon- by Sarah F.

On Thursday September 15, the Tucker River Fellows attended TNACI’s annual Serve and Protect Luncheon. The Serve and Protect Luncheon was created to inform people of the Tennessee River and how the type of sea life we eat affects the freshwater food web. 

During the cooking show the River Fellows learned how to create dishes using catfish, crawfish, and squid from two chefs. While learning how to prepare these incredible smelling dishes we were able to enjoy an amazing lunch! It was an incredible experience learning how you can better the environment by just eating a certain dish.

Lunch and Learn with the Tennessee River Gorge Trust By Erin M.

On Wednesday, August 31, the ninth grade River Fellows attended a Tennessee River
Gorge Trust luncheon. The purpose of this luncheon was to educate people about the River
Gorge Trust and what they do. The River Gorge Trust is a nonprofit organization with the goal of
preserving and protecting the Tennessee River Gorge. They buy land along the river gorge or
ask the land owner for rights for the land, so it won’t get developed and can be used by the
public for recreation.

There are several steps that must be taken for the River Gorge Trust to be able to have
and use this land. The first is acquisition, or buying the land. The Trust is able to purchase land
through donations made to the organization. Step two is stewardship of the land. The Trust is
fervent about making sure the land is healthy and that animals are getting all of the nutrients
that they need to continue breeding and populating the forest. Then, the land is used for public
recreation, such as kayaking, canoeing, and hiking. The land is also used for educational

purposes, like teaching the students of Tyner Middle School about nature.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Seine Fishing in the South Chickamauga Creek – by Erin M

The 9th grade River Fellows went seine fishing in the South Chickamauga Creek. Seine fishing is a method of fishing using a net. The net is weighted at the bottom with lead weights and the top is buoyed by floats. Two people hold wooden poles on the sides of the net and use either the “haul” method or the “set and kick” method to capture fish. The “haul” method is when both people walk downstream at a fast pace, keeping the net behind them and the poles at a 45 degree angle. The “set and kick” method is when the people on either end of the net hold the poles at a 45 degree angle. Then, other people walk towards the net, kicking up rocks on the bottom to scare fish into the net. Before going to the creek where we would fish, we went to meet the scientists who would take us fishing at a warehouse that was being used to raise sturgeon and Appalachian brook trout. We were able to see fingerling sturgeon, which were about an inch and a half long, some brook trout, and the head of a seven and a half foot long arapaima that’s scull was being eaten by beetles so scientists could have its skeleton to study or display.
Downstream haul

Scientists from the Tennessee Aquarium took us to the South Chickamauga Creek to fish. Upon arrival we met the landowner’s German Shepard, Bella, who waded in the creek near us as we fished. We began fishing in slower moving water and slowly moved downstream into faster

water. Mainly we caught smaller fish such as darters and minnows. The species of fish we caught were surprisingly bright and colorful such as redline darters, war paint shiners and banded darters, but also caught more camouflaged fish such as sculpins, log perch and the threatened snail darter which was the first species to take the Endangered Species Act to court. Other creatures were also caught in the nets: a dragonfly larva, a hellgrammite (Dobson fly larva), a musk turtle and many crawfish. 

hellgrammite (dobsonfly larvae)

Later on we moved upstream to a large pool area and started trying to catch larger fish. We then caught a long nose gar and a buffalo sucker.

gar in mid-air


At the end of the day we were wet and our waders were full of water but we learned a lot about the creek and the many species of fish and other aquatic life in it! 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Chickamauga Dam and GIS by Isabelle T. and Sarah F.

Chickamauga Dam Tour 

Today the freshmen Tucker River fellows toured the Chickamauga Dam on the Tennessee River. We got to explore things like turbines, locks, and even went 80 feet under headwater! 

At the beginning of the day, we got a generalization about how the water flows through the dam to create energy. The turbine converts the kinetic energy of water into mechanical energy. A generator then converts this mechanical energy into electrical energy. We were able to go inside the turbine and see the water being spun.
Next we took a tour of the outside of the dam. We walked along the construction and saw the differing sides of the river.

While walking along the concrete, a barge approached and we watched it go through the lock. The barge had to split into two sections because the lock is too small, so they are building a new system. We watched the water level between the two locks lower so the lock could open and let the barge through.
After that, we went to look at the generators. These generate energy and make the hydroelectric power.
We then proceeded to the elevator where we went 80 feet below the headwater into a cave-like passage that held some of the controls and oil storage rooms.
During this tour, we saw many things that expanded our knowledge of the water and how it is generated. We learned how a turbine creates energy, where the river trash is disposed through a gate, and even things such as the level of humidity in the dam! This was a great experience all-around, and we can’t wait for more!

Learning about GIS

On Wednesday after an interesting tour of the Chickamauga Dam the freshmen Tucker River Fellows went to UTC to learn about Geographic Information System (GIS). Andy Carol helped navigate us through this college-level topic. He helped simplifying GIS through a straightforward tutorial. We learned to use GIS on an app called GIS Collector.

link to water trails: TN water trails

 GIS is a resourceful tool that can be used on a day to day basis. We were able to play around with the app after the lecture and tutorial. We were able to learn much about the Chattanooga area; everything from the amount of people that tweet in an area to what is the best route to take when kayaking down the Hiwassee River. Over all GIS was a very engaging topic that we all loved to learn about!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kayak Tour of TN River Gorge- By Gabby T.

The freshmen Tucker River fellows went on an overnight kayaking trip through the
Tennessee River Gorge. We put in at Suck Creek and kayaked for 4 hours. We had two women from Outdoor Chattanooga with us named Candice and Terri. Terri Chapin actually was the outdoor program director at GPS several years ago. They taught us how to use the kayaks and paddles. 

While we were kayaking through the Tennessee River we saw and heard many animals such as snakes, turtles, deer and different birds. Along the way we stopped to observe the animals and to play on rope swings and in the water. 

 Finally, we arrived at the cabin and we were first greeted by a snake! We stayed out of its way and put the kayaks up.
Later that afternoon, Rick and Mariah from the Tennessee River Gorge Trust came and talked to us about what they do. Rick is the executive director for the non profit and he is very familiar with birds. He uses his knowledge about birds to find out information about a certain area of land. For example, a team of scientists catch a type of bird called the Louisiana Waterthrush. They put a small geo-locator on the bird and let them go off to migrate. This bird is very territorial so every year the bird usually comes back from migrating to the same place. If the bird goes somewhere else, then the scientists can tell that something about the environment has changed. From there they run some tests and fix the problem.
Mariah is the community director for the non profit. She works with the people and finds ways to get them involved with the land they have. Her job can be tricky because she has to find the balance of keeping the land accessible for the people but not commercialized. We then moved on to talking about us as individuals and what we have to do with the environment. One of the things mentioned is about what our choices as future adults affect. He said that everyone is connected to the environment. That means when we make choices about the environment, we are going to affect all people.
Rick ended his talk by speaking about if conservation is a privilege or a responsibility. We were supposed to think about how we feel about it because each side has valid points.

The next morning, we got up and went back out to kayaking.

 We didn’t kayak for as long as the day before, but we saw many more animals and places because it was more secluded in the woods. We saw birds, fish, and a beautiful place for climbing. The part of the river we were on this day had beautiful scenery that took your breath away! 

 We also passed by Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant. This place pumps water, at periods of low demand, to the top of the mountain. Then, at periods of high demand, the water is let free down the mountain to drive the generators to make electricity. Mrs. Couch said that there were very few plants like these in the United States, so it is cool that we are right next to it. Right next to the plant we put out and made it back to GPS safe and sound! 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Environmental Art 102- planning our own- By Larkin B.

In early March, Tucker River Fellows met with environmental artist, Hollie Berry, at the Chattanooga WorkSpace to discuss the plans for their own environmental art project. After a tour of the building and Hollie's art studio, we gathered and decided to create a flower mandala. The mandala is an informational project in which we collect flowers to form a geometric design. In this meeting we decided the design, size, and flowers of the mandala.

To create the piece we will collect native (not too many!) and invasive flowers in our local area. Once the flowers are collected we will press them in a plant press for a few days. After this step we will take two thin pieces of glass and seal the mandala design. These projects will be hung around our GPS campus; to ensure the color will last the pieces will be put out of direct sunlight.