Students get close look at nature

JOHNSTOWN – Students from Gloversville’s elementary schools got a close look at turkey eggs, trout and crayfish Thursday as part of a field trip.

Park Terrace, Kingsborough and McNab Elementary School fifth-graders went to the Hale Creek Field Station in the town of Johnstown to learn about environmental conservation, as well as plant and animal life.

Tim Martin, facility manager at Hale Creek, said the course was organized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

The goals of the trip, organized by Bob Bordieri, Hale Creek maintenance assistance, were to increase youths’ understanding of environmental and natural resources and to instill a consciousness of local and global environmental issues.

“As you can see from the list of classes, it’s mostly aquatically oriented,” Martin said.

Previously, Cornell Cooperative Extension would organize the trip. However, Martin and Bordieri said this year, the DEC organized the trip after the Extension pulled out because of budget constraints.

The classes were split into five groups, which rotated between five stations. Among the topics were fish, and wildlife, chemistry, stream ecology, water ecology, water quality and trout.

Students were allowed to see rainbow trout, crayfish, snails and other aquatic life as volunteers and biologists led students through the stations.

Kevin Schermerhorn, a volunteer helping with the day’s events, showed students the biology of a dragonfly. He showed how it reaches out with an organ from its mouth to grab food and brings it back into the mouth. He also showed students the claws of a crayfish. He let the crayfish pinch his hand.

Salem Aldi, a Kingsborough Elementary School student, got a close look at the crayfish while it was in Schermerhorn’s hand.

Aldi said he was interested in the courses.

“I do love animals and fish, but I don’t really go outside much,” Aldi said.

Students were also involved in a nature hike, where they saw native plants, animal pelts and a turkey egg that was left unattended in the wild.

At another station, DEC environmental chemist Brian Buano taught children the differences between separate breeds of trout, allowing students to climb into a raceway – which is a water flow-through system – in waders to help catch trout.

Vincent Frye, a Kingsborough Elementary School student, said the class was fun.

“I like it, but it was cold,” Frye said of the 50-degree water.