A Day in the Life of the Stream Team 

The Thomas More University Biology Field Station collaborates with many outside organizations, two of which include Sanitation District One and the Boone County Conservation District. These organizations monitor and assess streams around the area as well as educate the public on environmental issues. The Field Station’s Stream Team – Olivia Blasdel and Abby Hutcheson – are actively helping these local organizations to promote their respective missions.

Meet the Interns

Olivia Blasdel 

Olivia is a rising senior at the University of Evansville, located in Indiana. Majoring in environmental science, Olivia is a dynamic member of her university community. Not only is she the president of her campus’ environmental concerns organization, but she also serves on UE’s Environmental Sustainability Committee. During her free time, she devotes herself to her work as the outreach coordinator for her university’s Christian fellowship. Olivia plans on traveling and doing seasonal work after she graduates. Her role at the Field Station has offered her training across a wide range of scientific realms; for this, Olivia is grateful as this experience makes her more marketable for jobs in the future.

Interns Olivia and Arianna Riley doing a pebble count

Interns Olivia and Arianna Riley doing a pebble count

Abby Hutcheson

Abby will be an upcoming junior at Thomas More University this fall. A  major in biology, Abby is on the pre-veterinary track so that she can pursue her goal to become a veterinarian specializing in marine animals. When asked how the Field Station is preparing her for her future she replied, “I’ve learned various skills throughout the summer as well as enhanced my animal handling skills.”  She explains that while she has encountered many animals during her summer internship, catching a common carp with her bare hand has been her most exotic and memorable experience.

Abby doing hydromodification

Abby doing hydromodification

Weekly Activities

Sanitation District No. 1 (SD1)

Part of SD1’s mission is to keep the waterways in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties healthy. The Stream Team visits local streams on a weekly basis to perform stream assessments. These assessments include geomorphic surveys, water quality tests, streamflow monitoring, and biological assessments. Geomorphic surveys consist of pebble counts and hydromodification. Pebble counts are a good way to measure the rate of erosion of the rocks in a stream. A healthy stream has a variety of rocks; if there are too many bedrocks the animals living in the stream will have nowhere to hide. Hydromodification is the alteration of the natural flow of the stream. It is important when attempting to reduce non-point source pollution. Aside from geomorphic surveys, biological assessments are also done. These assessments include fish and macroinvertebrate sampling. The wider the variety of species, the healthier the stream is. Water samples are also taken to determine the pH level, temperature, and levels of bacteria in the streams.

Kids Conservation Camp

The Kids Conservation Camp is a week-long adventure for children ages nine through 12.  The camp is offered by the Boone County Conservation District whose mission is to promote the protection and wise use of natural resources through education and service to local citizens. Interns Abby and Olivia help the Boone County Conservation District achieve their mission by fostering in children outdoor leadership skills and helping these youths to make a connection with the natural world. Recently, the Stream Team took the children to explore forest and stream ecosystems. It proved to be a highlight for both Abby and Olivia since the pair is passionate about teaching the younger generation something that will truly be beneficial for the future of the planet. After all, teaching people to live a pro-environmental life by getting them involved in meaningful fieldwork is essential to keeping the ecosystems healthy and clean and, ultimately, to ensure the ecosystem’s quality of life.