The Taos High School environmental education students are getting set up to utilize our Rio Fernando Park as their outdoor laboratory. Led by teacher Greg Rael and Amigos Bravos Shannon Romeling, the 11 students are getting an understanding of a watershed-based plan and training in water quality monitoring, soil science, aquatics and forestry. All of this training feeds into their biology, computer and mathematics classes.
Part of this group will take what they’ve learned here to compete in the 2-day 2018 Envirothon in Capitan, New Mexico this spring. Envirothon is a hands-on environmental problem solving competition for high school students from the United States and Canada. Students compete in a range of natural resource categories. This is “Fun science!” said one of the participants.
For the Taos Land Trust, these young scientists bring research valuable to our restoration work at the park. The group will keep up the monitoring through summer 2018 and through the 2018-19 school year, at least. We know that the Rio Fernando is considered “impaired”. That is, the river is not nearly as healthy as it should be. So tracking the measures or river health (the presence of E. Coli, temperature, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen) and wildlife populations (in this case minnow populations) in the area is key to help us understand how things change as we move forward with restoration work.