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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. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Environmental Art 101- by Charlotte V.

In February, Hollie Berry came to talk to us about different forms of environmental art. As an environmental artist, Hollie creates art that can be made out of land, made on the land, or art where nature is the subject and is suited to address issues in our environment. She showed us pictures of her “dew-dles” that she creates at Coolidge Park when there is plenty of dew on the grass.

T is for Turtle- Hollie Berry
Hollie told us about the four different types of environmental  art: manipulation, disruption, interaction, and intervention. We discovered that artists like Cornelia Conrad, Simon Beck and Andres Amador take what is already there on the land and rearrange it to form an image, forming the manipulation category of environmental art. 

Rowan leaves around a Hole- Andy Goldsworthy

The second category, disruption, is made up of artists who take man made objects outdoors to form images, well represented by the famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. 

Cadillac Ranch- Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels

Interaction are personal interactions with nature that form images, such as Richard Long’s “Line Made by Walking”. 

Line made by walking- Richard Long 

The last type of “earth art”, intervention, includes artists such as Alan Sonfist who change the environment in order to improve it. 

Circles of Time- Alan Songfist
What most people don’t realize though is that we make environmental art more than you think. Flower crowns, snowmen, igloos, sandcastles are all forms of earth art that we create all the time! We began to discuss ideas for our own environmental art project and might need your help with it, so stay posted!
Snow art by Simon Beck 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Original poetry- Just in Time for Earth Day by Claire C.

After being inspired by the poetry from the first session with Ms. Williams, we then sought to create some of our own. When writing poetry about nature, there are a variety of directions you could go with your ideas. Some choose to create a stunning visual with romantic detailing of their encounters with nature by painting a picture of the scene in the reader’s mind. You could also choose to turn natural objects or their actions into symbols for more abstract ideas such as peace, happiness, change, etc. Possibly, you could bend words so that the beauty and grace of nature is used to advocate for conservation or heightened consciousness of our environment. There are many ways you could incorporate the elements into poetry, it’s just a matter of understanding the natural world and how it balances with the human language, as well as your own perception. Here are a few of our own poems:

By Larkin B.
The wind burns my face leaving the tops of my cheeks chafed.
Cloth covers my body allowing only two watery eyes to show;
gazing up, I see the trees sway back and forth greeting me.
The naked limbs of the tree allow the sun to creep through and touch my face,
warming me against the bitter cold.
The sound of water racing down the stream whispers in my ear,
trying to be louder than the screams of the wind.
Answering the call I shuffle to the creek,
the mud grabs my foot pulling it deeper and deeper into its murky depths.
Yanking my foot away I reach the water and place my feet into the chilly stream;
I glance to my left and see a beaver dam has succumbed to the untamable force of the water.
 I let the river hold me and the flow of the creek takes me away

Evergreen Trees
By Charlotte V.

Evergreen trees in the winter blue,
Give vibrant rays of color to the barren landscape.
They seem like summer balled up into bark, leaves, and branches.
They are bright, colorful, and inspire happiness even on the dreariest of days.
Their branches, they dance in the rain,
And grow in the mild sunlight,
Their needles perch lazily,
Bathing in the sun’s raw, pale light.
Their roots stretch far beneath the surface,
Twisting a tortuous path among themselves,
To get the water they desperately need into their veins.
Their trunks stand firm, even in the worst winter storms.
They are the glue that holds the branches, needles, and roots together.
These components are what make the tree whole,
They are what makes the tree give life to the death of winter.

While on my nature walk, I found a clump of evergreen trees. I was shocked by how much vibrancy they brought to the dark and barren forest. I began to think of each element of the tree and how it relates back to the tree as a whole, which led to the lines referring to each individual element, the branches, the needles, the roots, and the trunk. I used personification for each element because I think of a tree being more alive, than dormant plants.

By Lauren K.
Flowers in her hair
Clouds in her mind
Water in her veins
Lava in her head
Us in her soul
Storms in her heart

She is our mother, Mother of the Earth