Waterway Protection: A Toolkit for Youth Leaders Around the World


Water: A global connector of communities around the world.  As populations increase, communities must collaborate to ensure continued access to clean drinking water.  As Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, writes in the 2016 World Water Development Report, “water is essential to decent jobs and sustainable development. Now is the time to increase investments in protecting and rehabilitating water resources, including drinking water, as well as sanitation while focusing on generating employment.” The question is: How will the future caretakers of the world–the youth of our global community–learn how to protect water?

A team from the Saw Kill Watershed Community (SKWC), the Bard College Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), and Environmental and Urban Studies (EUS) program at Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York) worked in collaboration with the student-led Eco-Squad of Astrakhan State University (Astrakhan, Russia), to establish a trans-national partnership based on the shared values of stewardship and environmental education for the protection of waterways. The team worked together over 10 months to create activities that engage youth in protecting water starting in the communities close to the Hudson and Volga River watersheds where Bard College and Astrakhan are located.

The materials are a compilation of cross-cultural education and stewardship activities that can help teachers, professors, educators and community leaders creatively engage young people both in and out of the classroom. The activities contained in this Toolkit reflect the combined efforts of all members of the team and are written in such a manner to reach a wide, international audience and to use in any community.

To download a copy in English or Russian, click a link below:

Note: This is a blog post about the US-Russia Exchange. These documents will be permanently filed here: https://sawkillwatershed.wordpress.com/waterway-protection-a-toolkit-for-youth-leaders-around-the-world/

An Unfinished History of the “by no means beautiful village of Annandale”

In 1988 an employee of Historic Hudson Valley (then owners of the Montgomery Place) wrote a 79-page history of Annandale, the hamlet near the mouth of the Saw Kill. With many maps and juicy details from historic documents, Pamela Goddard lays out a story of mills, farms, and estates developed, divided up, and passed from one generation of European-Americans to another. In the process the place names and the people’s names change, but you can recognize the old familiar Saw Kill through the many changes. To read more, download An Unfinished History of the “by no means beautiful village of Annandale”.

Saw Kill 1881 Map.png
“Map of Rhinebeck, previous to 1812” published in E.M. Smith’s History of Rhinebeck, 1881. As described in An Unfinished History of the “by no means beautiful village of Annandale” by Pamela Goddard, of Historic Hudson Valley, 1988

A Successful Streamwalk

Last Friday we had a great first streamwalk! Streamwalks are a fun method of visually assessing the waterway on foot, and gathering observational data. This citizen science outing drew a variety of community members and Bard College students. We were able to get up close to the Saw Kill, and generate lots of questions and ideas together as a group.

Finding the mouth of the Saw Kill


We began our adventure where the Saw Kill empties out in to the Tivoli Bays. From there we discussed the different parameters we would be assessing during the walk. We were interested in looking at different physical characteristics of the stream and the surrounding area such as the channel and hydrology, riparian zones, bank erosion, turbidity, barriers (man made and natural) and the presence of fish and insect habitat, pools, riffles, and algae.

Measuring the width and depth

At each stop we made along the river, we measured the channel and depth, and discussed each of the above parameters. Our discussions were diverse; prompting lively debates over what constituted a barrier in the river, lessons on effective riparian zones and recounting the history of this one mile stretch, from past channel diversions to the chocolate factory. A community conversation around the waterway was able to take place literally in it!

Wading through the Saw Kill!

As we traversed the one mile stretch, we were able to walk on trails beside the water, directly in it (the lucky ones in waders faring much better), and eventually along 9G and through a corn field where we lost sight of the river. Overall we were thrilled we were able to stay so close or in the Saw Kill for the majority of the walk. It is a wonderfully accessible portion of the Saw Kill.

Thanks to everyone who came out and volunteered!

We look forward to compiling the data we collected and sharing it with the larger community!

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Having fun at Hardscrabble Day

We had a wonderful time at Hardscrabble day in Red Hook this weekend! It was so great to see the community out and about, and what all of the local businesses and initiatives are up to.

A beautiful sunny day for Hardscrabble day! Thank you to awesome volunteers Sheila, Brent and Gwen!
Saw Kill Critters!
The most popular critter of the day…a Dobsonfly Larvae                                                                     (a smaller aquatic insect–a stonefly–is to its left)
Community members find themselves in the watershed
Community members place themselves on our watershed map

We had folks stop by to put themselves on our watershed map, talk about the upcoming sewer project, and check out our tank full of fun Saw Kill critters. We were so thrilled to see old friends, as well as meet many new community members.

Thanks for a great community event Red Hook!

STREAM WALK! 9/23 at Noon!

Dear Saw Kill friends and neighbors,

Please join us next Friday, September 23rd, from Noon to 4PM for the first Saw Kill Stream Walk! It should be a great time getting to know the first mile of our precious Saw Kill, and a fun time for all of us, for sure.

Please meet us at the “Community Garden parking lot” near the intersection of Blithewood Road and Bay Road on Bard’s campus. We’ll walk to the start of the official stream walk (near Bard Field station–no good parking down there). If you’re GPS-savvy here are the GPS coordinates of our start location: 42°01’06.1″N 73°54’43.7″W. Or see the image below!

Overview of the Activity: 
A “Stream Walk” is a scientific field assessment method that involves professional and citizen scientists assessing the health of a section of a stream based on visual criteria. This is done by walking along the edge of the stream or wading right down the middle. We’ll make observations, take measurements, and take notes–it’ll be fun! We’ll see waterfalls as well as plenty of cool plants and animals! (Just today we found many cool, friendly fish and insects in the water!). We gave ourselves 4 hours but it could be over in 2-3!

What to bring: 
A small backpack
A big water bottle
A snack (or 2)
A pencil/pen
Clothes/products for sun/bugs
Rubber boots (or wear our waders)
Socks for boots/waders
Camera (optional)
Binoculars (optional)
Tape measure (optional)

Looking forward to walking and exploring the Saw Kill together!
Tom, Sheila, Sheryl, and Laurie

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Upcoming Website and Art

The Bard Water Lab (BWL) runs the Saw Kill water monitoring program that every watershed community member is welcome to join. Lately, we’ve been working on developing a new website for the lab that will make the monitoring data available to anyone who is interested. Planning a website, especially with a large database is quite the process!

We’re working with people from the Experimental Humanities department and IT at Bard in order to produce something more intriguing than a typical science website. The BWL prioritizes including the community in research, so we’ve been trying to think of ways to accomplish this through a website.

Observations are powerful when it comes to environmental research, so the website will feature a platform for the community to share their observations with each other and the Water Lab. People will be able to post pictures, comments, ideas, etc. on the new website that will help connect the community around the Saw Kill as well as contribute to the BWL’s research. Starting an online dialogue will hopefully make the watershed more interesting and accessible.

The website will also have art, because who doesn’t love art?! Below is an example of something I created for the Bard Water Lab.