Second Annual Long Island Natural History Conference



A Day in the Life of the Carmans River
Melissa Griffiths Parrott

ABSTRACT:  Each year, on a single day in the fall, hundreds of students and teachers from school districts located in the Central Pine Barrens engage in hands-on citizen science exploration of the Carmans River. Natural History experts and scientists assist the students in collecting scientific water chemistry and biodiversity information, analyzing it and sharing it to portray the status of the river ecosystem during a “Day in the Life of the Carmans River.” 
This interactive program helps students develop an appreciation for and knowledge of the Carmans River ecosystem; they collect useful scientific data in regard to the river’s status and become stewards of the river’s water quality and natural resources, they explore how their piece of the river fits into the larger ecosystem. We will discuss this successful model for “A Day in the Life”, how we engaged over 400 students, 20 teachers and 30 partners on one single day, how the students collect, analyze and share their citizen science data plus the importance of partnerships and collaborations. 

Melissa Griffiths Parrott has been in the Environmental Education field for over 17 years.  After receiving her degree from California State University Long Beach, she worked with El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach California and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and Sweetbrier Nature Center in Smithtown, New York.  Melissa is the former Director of Environmental Education for the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  She worked directly with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Secretary of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Education Commissioner on incorporating environmental education, particularly biodiversity- into the State learning standards. She attended Harvard University for Environmental Policy and is currently the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Central Pine Barrens Joint Planning and Policy Commission and heads such efforts as A Day in the Life of the Carmans River, Pine Barrens Research Forum’s Student Science Symposium, International Twinning Student Science Exchange with Pisa Italy, Pine Barrens Discovery Day, Barrens to Bay summer camp and K-12 environmental programming.