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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Maclellan planning- By Sarah F.

The last two weeks in our River Fellows time block we have discussed what we could do to better our community, specifically Audubon Island (Maclellan Island). In doing so we looked at what needed to be done. The area has not been mapped recently and the signs are out-dated, so we decided to first focus on the signs. The ones on Audubon Island at the moment are quite old and don’t contain the all the information needed. They are made of wood and they have information about the island painted on them. Because they are painted, a lot of the information has chipped away or is faded.

In our first meeting during this two-week period we discussed what needed to be on the signs, how many were needed, and what material we would need. The latter was more difficult to decide on. We didn’t want to use wood, fearing it would rot away. Also we wanted to use the GPS Library’s laser cutter to carve out the information on the signs, so we also needed to have a material that the laser could cut through. We at first thought about having them made of sheet metal, but than during out second meet Mr. Glass came in and discussed the matter with us. He told us how neat it would be to use Plexiglas. We all agreed that this would look very unique and that the main sign for the island should be made out of Plexiglas. We also needed a few more smaller signs around this one welcome sign so it was decided that we could use a sturdy wood to create the smaller signs. The class of 2020 River Fellows are very excited to take Audubon Island on as our new project!
*update- the plexiglass will not work due to the current ventilation set-up, so we are going to try tile. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Maclellan partnership- By Gabby T.

During this meeting, the Tucker River Fellows met with Kyle Simpson from Chattanooga Audubon Society which owns Maclellan island. We were discussing ways to help improve the island. We discussed many things from litter to haunted houses. His main focus was on keeping the island natural and making it a good place for people to interact with nature.
Basically there is 18 acres for the Tucker River Fellows to work with and there are many needs that Mr. Simpson told us about. He explained how they needed new roofs on some of the buildings and new bathrooms too. There is also a need for new maps of the island. And finally, we were told that the island needed new, sturdy signs around the island.
We decided to take on the project of making new signs. Hopefully we will be able to use GPS 3D printer to make the signs durable. On the signs we are going to put the Audubon Society’s number so that people can make reservations for camping. We will also put rules on the sign like to littering, or pets. We are also going to be working with Mr. Simpson to make sure there isn’t anything else they would like on the sign.
photo from

The Tucker River Fellows are exited about this project because we all care about Maclellan island so much. We desire to keep working with the Audubon Society because we have great hopes and desires for the island to become more popular. The island is a great place for people to interact with nature and we are so lucky to have a great program like the Chattanooga Audubon Society to keep the island’s natural habitat preserved.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Monarch Tagging- by Erin M.

On Wednesday, October 5th, the ninth grade River Fellows went to the Tennessee River
Gardens. The purpose of this trip was to catch and tag Monarch butterflies. At this time, Monarch
butterflies are migrating from all parts of North America down to Mexico. After a butterfly is
tagged, when it reaches its destination, its tag can be identified and reported back to whoever
tagged it.
The Tennessee River Gardens is a section of land along the Tennessee River that has
meadows and paths, as well as a butterfly garden that is maintained by Christine Bock, who works
for the Tennessee Aquarium.

Plants such as milkweed and many other flowering plants are in the
garden for the butterflies to eat, but the garden also has a focus on fostering caterpillars. Certain
types of caterpillars will only feed off of one type of plant, such as the monarch caterpillar, which
prefers milkweed. Part of the garden is screened in, which helps caterpillars’ chance of survival.
Inside the enclosure, many types of caterpillars were thriving off of their favored plant leaves. There
were even a few cocoons, some of which had already been used, and others that still housed a
caterpillar completing metamorphosis. This enclosure is important because most caterpillars will
not survive to adulthood due to predators, like birds.

After a quick tour of the butterfly garden, we went into the meadows of the River Garden to
look for butterflies to tag. There were many types of butterflies in the fields, though we did not find
any monarch butterflies.

However, we did find a monarch caterpillar feeding on the underside of a
small milkweed plant, along with several other species of caterpillars, which were later placed in the
screened-in section of the butterfly garden. As we looked for butterflies and caterpillars, we found a
few caterpillar eggs strewn about on plants. Some butterflies will only lay their eggs on certain
plants, and most butterflies only lay one egg per leaf.

The River Gardens also has an enclosed duck sanctuary, where many species of both exotic
and native ducks are kept. During our expedition, we were accompanied by a dog named Lucy, who
lives at the River Gardens. Though our trip was not successful in the terms of our original purpose,
we found lots of caterpillars and learned a lot about local species of butterflies and their life cycles.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Water quality for propagated sturgeon at TNACI- By Gabby T.

A few weeks ago,  the Fellows went to TNACI for the second time. We were told about how the water quality was tested for the sturgeon. The reintroduction biologists need to test the water for the temperature, the amount of oxygen, hydrogen (pH) and ammonia. 
They also test for the amount of nitrate and salinity in the water. During our time there, we tested the temperature, pH, and ammonia. We got to get our hands wet and help test the water with the instruments.  A very important part of this process is keeping the instruments clean while testing the different tanks. If they are not properly cleaned, then the results could be inaccurate.  We also helped the biologists keep track of the results of the temperature and amount of nitrate and salinity. We all learned a lot about what sturgeon need to survive and that was only their water!