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Nature Treks Help Kids Discover Local Treasures

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Mantua – While some kids treasure their extra days off school by sleeping in, on NEOEA Day, several kids donned  rubber boots, joined their families to hunt for treasures in the heart of Mantua Village. At Mantua’s Buchert Park (4800 East High Street), the group met Ryan Moss from the Ohio Division of Natural Resources. Moss donned his waders to enter the river, showing firsthand some of the hidden treasures that can be found in a typical Cuyahoga River monitoring exercise.

First, Moss used a Turbidity Tube — a narrow PVC tube roughly two feet long — to show participants how to measure the river’s water clarity. Looking through the side of the tube, the water appeared remarkably clear. But changing perspective and looking through the top of the tube, participants realized that because of sediment, the bottom was hidden, just as the river’s bottom is hidden from view. Moss’s next step, however, shed plenty of light on some of the interesting creatures that call the Crooked River home. And while the depth and current of the river made it impossible for the children, mostly third graders from Crestwood Intermediate School, to enter the river, Moss brought some of the river to them.

Moss used two plastic shoebox-sized bins as mini aquariums, which he filled with river water. Taking a three-foot section of netting, Moss entered the river and used his feet to jostle the rocks resting on the river’s bottom, sending its former occupants into the waiting net. After carefully closing the net, Moss exited the river, opening the net flat so that the group could locate critters, examine them, and place them into the waiting bins. Hidden among the fall leaves, participants found crayfish, a multitude of insect larvae, tiny freshwater clams and a water penny beetle. Moss and a team of volunteers monitor the Cuyahoga in various locations during early spring, summer and fall to test water quality of the river by the variety of creatures found within it. According to Moss, the river quality at Buchert Park rated excellent that day.

After releasing their treasures back into the river, participants followed Rosemary Krupar, CIS third grade teacher and Teacher-Ranger-Teacher for Cuyahoga Valley National Park, down the nearby Headwaters Trail to investigate the Oak Ridge Trail. The boisterous group startled a snake sunning itself along the trail as they identified leaves, explored the woods, and enjoyed the crisp fall day.

Nature Treks is a free extracurricular program to provide outdoor education to Crestwood students and their families. During several sessions throughout the 2014-2015 school year, families will meet at various sites in the area for interactive nature experiences. These sessions take place on select weekdays when school is not in session. For more information on upcoming Nature Treks, contact Rosemary Krupar at Crestwood Intermediate School, rkrupar@crestwoodschools.org.