Snorkeling program gives kids lessons in clean water

Published: Sep. 18, 2018 at 4:52 AM EDT
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Students are getting out of the classroom and into the White River to learn about clean water. It's an area that was hit by Tropical Storm Irene but has shown a remarkable recovery.

Fourth- and fifth-graders from Central Vermont schools are zipping up to look down.

The U.S. Forest Service, along with the Center for Aquatic Transfer and the White River Partnership, have come together to teach kids about how to take care of Vermont’s rivers and lakes.

"We are learning how to snorkel and about the environment," said Alexis Audsley, a fifth-grader. "You don’t want to pick up rocks or throw trash in it. If you find any trash you probably just want to take it out."

Two hundred students from 10 different schools will spend time in a section of the White River in Rochester. Each student will search the water for aquatic life destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.

"Here in Vermont, we've seen that when Mother Nature does her thing, there's definitely a lot of restoration work," said Ethan Ready of the Forest Service.

Ready says this underwater field trip shows students what species will show up when the water is clean, proving this area is now in recovery.

He says stoneflies, dragonflies, riffle beetles, brook trout and rainbow trout are some of the species that indicate healthy water. This is good news for the river and he's excited kids get to see the effects of clean water.

"It’s cool to see how the environment outside of us works, what you can see in it," said Ian Coates, a fifth-grader.

"It's really fun because you can swim underneath the water and you can look at everything under," said Asher Hewitt, a fifth-grader.

"I have a 9-year-old and he loves the outdoors, so it's one of those things that, as a Forest Service employee. as a father. as someone who enjoys the outdoors, it’s great to see these kids out here snorkeling and smiling," Ready said.

He hopes this will encourage students to take action when it comes to taking care of the environment.