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Reflecting on Our Summer Science Fellowships at CURB

- By CURB Summer Science Fellows Aubrey Baker & Molly Galant

As our summer at CURB comes to a close, Molly and I can’t help but reflect on the various opportunities and experiences that have been presented to us. Beginning the fellowship, neither Molly nor I had experience working in a lab. Despite our lack of knowledge, the staff at CURB embraced us with open arms. Walking us through lab management practices, Molly and I gained invaluable knowledge on proper equipment handling, sampling practices, and cleanup strategies. The skills that we were taught–problem-solving, analytical thinking, time management–will aid us in our future careers as scientists.

While the majority of Molly and I’s time at CURB was spent on location, various opportunities presented themselves for fieldwork: Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) macroinvertebrate sampling and Enterococcus water testing. For the DEC sampling, Molly and I worked alongside the CURB staff to document the various macroinvertebrates inhabiting the river at V.E. Macy Park. This information was then sent to the DEC for further observation on the health of the river. 

Molly and I also conducted Hudson river water sampling around Yonkers to test for Enterococcus bacteria. During our sampling sessions, Molly and I would always encounter a few onlookers who would ask about the project, specifically inquiring about the quality of the river. These encounters allowed us to interact with the community. We kept the public informed about our findings and daily routines through various social media outlets. In addition to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we enthusiastically brought CURB to TikTok, with many videos spotlighting the resident turtles.

In addition to water sampling, we had the opportunity to engage in many fun and enriching activities within the Yonkers community. CURB assisted Thrift 2 Fight, an organization that sets up thrift pop-up shops to raise funds for various advocacy organizations. Schools in Yonkers visited CURB for lessons in seining, water quality, and sediment sampling. Molly and I also assisted in leading The Hudson River Ecology Course at CURB (HRECC), which is a program consisting of eight students from around Yonkers. HRECC provided an exciting opportunity to engage high school students in the world of environmental science and an opportunity for us to experience what goes into science education planning.

One of our main projects for the summer was constructing a marsh guide. Over 60 plants were documented and organized–with the help of a plant identification app–into a cohesive guide that contains facts on plant family, blooming period, and medicinal benefits. The students participating in the HRECC course used our guide to complete a marsh-based scavenger hunt. 

We had an amazing summer working for CURB, and we’re so thankful for the opportunities provided to us. This has been an experience that neither of us will forget!