Monthly Archives: July 2011

Lessons from Onondaga Lake: ESF in the High School Teachers Gather for Watershed Observation and Investigation

The recent ESF in the High School Teacher Professional Development Symposium hosted by ESF Outreach at Willow Bay Park in Liverpool, NY, brought together enthusiastic ESF in the High School teachers on June 23, 2011.  Willow Bay Pavilion provided a scenic gathering point along the shoreline of Onondaga Lake, immersing participants in an atmosphere of hands-on-learning and observation.  According to Dr. Richard Beal, Assistant Dean of Educational Outreach at SUNY ESF, such events provide an opportunity for teachers to develop content for courses and generate excitement about science.

ESF Outreach is home to a range of professional development programs, each drawing on undergraduate and graduate educational and research experience of ESF faculty, students and staff, as well as professionals from a variety of local and state organizations.  Through attending professional development events held throughout the year, ESF in the High School teachers broaden their knowledge base and share lesson plans and teaching outcomes with one another to ultimately better serve their students.

The June program began with an engaging presentation by ESF graduate student Matt Brincka entitled Onondaga Lake and Its Aquatic Ecosystems.  Participants analyzed fish biodiversity within Onondaga Lake by using a net to pull a variety of fish species out of the water to be surveyed.  The net pull was followed by discussion on fish identification and characteristics, and also noted changes in fish populations inhabiting the lake over time.  Such topics enrich and shape future content for ESF in the High School courses, providing teachers with hands-on activities for student involvement.

Additional presentations included History of Pollution at Onondaga Lake, presented by Mike Spada, Research Scientist, Upstate Freshwater Institute; an Onondaga Lake mapping activity directed by Sarah Wraight, Staff Writer, Onondaga Environmental Institute; and Introduction to Green Infrastructure in CNY, presented by ESF graduate students Michelle Molloy and Nathan Ogdahl and undergraduate student Michelle Meyer.  The program concluded with a tour of 515 Tully Street in Syracuse, NY, the home of a beautiful and vivacious residential rain garden, miniature demonstration green roof, two rain barrels, and porous paving.  Dawn Adams, a Global Environment instructor from Pavilion High School, became the proud winner of a free rain barrel following a brief ‘pop-quiz’ as the program came to a close.  Ms. Adams plans on bringing the rain barrel back to Pavilion to show her students with the hope of installing it on campus.

Photos of this Teacher Professional Development Symposium can be found on the ESF Outreach Facebook page:!/media/set/?set=a.219385004767749.57476.102866573086260


Michelle Meyer, Student Assistant for Outreach