Coming from an artistic background, working with the Saw Kill Watershed Community was a completely new experience. This summer I participated in Bard Summer Research Institute, where I was first introduced to the SKWC and environmental science in general. As an outsider in the scientific community, I was unfamiliar with the scientific components that ostensibly characterize watershed stewardship. I had very limited lab experience and didn’t have much scientific knowledge at all.
However, this did not cause any problems or limit my involvement with the community. Actually, the protocols for water sampling and analysis in the lab were simple to learn and gave me an entirely new appreciation of local water.
Scientific involvement radically transformed my perception of the Saw Kill as a beautiful little river for swimming and looking at while hiking to a vital resource to my community that must be protected.
Honestly, before I learned about the actual state of the Saw Kill I expected that our polluting lifestyles are gradually eliminating its cleanliness and ecological integrity. I assumed that soon we will no longer be able to swim in it.
I think I had these negative expectations because we’re receiving a generally negative message about the way our lifestyles are affecting the environment. And because I am from a city and our local river is a disastrous toxic waste receptacle.
But this is not the case in the Saw Kill! Our river is healthy! The efforts of the SKWC, our environmentally friendly lifestyles, and probably a general lack of local industry have had a huge impact on the state of the Saw Kill. This is essential information and something to be very proud of.
I bet lots of people don’t know or think about the health of the water, but identifying ways of maintaining this degree of respect for our river is important. Scientific involvement in any form is a great way of connecting to the water and the watershed community. If we celebrate, love, and interact with the Saw Kill, it will remain healthy.