Billion Oyster Project
By Jeff Kraus
Sebago Canoe Club was the host for a Professional Development Day of the Billion Oyster Project, as operating for the STEM program and run by the Harbor School. The event was organized by Tanasia Swift, the BOP’s Community Reefs Regional Manager and was run by Annie Lederberg, BOP’s Curriculum Specialist. About thirty middle and high school teachers devoted a vacation day to learning how to help their students analyze the contents of the thirteen oyster cages that hang from our dock, a very hands-on process that was bravely confronted by all. Sebago was well-represented by ten members, all of whom got a chance to talk to the group about Sebago and Paerdegat history, water quality issues, how the club operates and how to participate. Several teachers were very interested in either open paddles or membership and will follow up on our website.
The weather was fairly brisk, so we agreed to let them work on two oyster cages indoors rather than out on the lawn, as they will when they return with their students. The group took excellent care of our facilities, and every loose crab, shrimp and polychaete worm was corralled back into a bucket, to be returned to the Basin.
Afternoon activities included a well-directed discussion of ecological and student research goals and pedagogical concerns, which we Sebago members were welcomed to join. Sebago was presented with a set of water assay kits for our future use.
The day was educational for us and it was truly inspiring to see the amount of effort and skill the BOP is putting into educating the next generation about environmental issues that affect us locally. These dedicated teachers spent the one good day of their Easter vacation week at our club learning new skills to help their students.
Here’s a link to their teacher-oriented site (platform.bop.nyc) that includes biology lessons and links to many BOP-related events coming up. As an associated organization, Sebago’s members are welcome to participate in any of these activities as citizen scientists or educators.
We received a warm thank-you note from Tanasia, and their team will return in the next few weeks to install the first-in-the-city Oyster Reef off our shoreline at the location we had discussed. During the summer, student groups will be coming to collect data on water quality, oyster growth and ecosystem members that live right off our dock. It was fascinating to see the complex food web that we paddle and sail over and through – a new dimension in Sebago’s relationship to our precious water resource!