Chestnut Hill students tour Onondaga Lake as citizen scientists
By Matthew Liptak
On the morning of June 7, for forty eight sixth graders from Chestnut Hill Elementary School in Liverpool, their usual indoor studies took a turn toward something kind of "out there." Literally.
Thanks to the cooperation of the Montezuma Audubon Center, the Onondaga Audubon Society and a micro-grant offered by the Honeywell Institute for Ecosystem Education the children got to take an educational boat tour of Onondaga Lake and learn about nature first hand.
"This is the first time I've taken kids out onto a boat like this," said Chestnut Hill sixth grade science teacher Larry Laszlo. "This is a rare opportunity. This is out there. They [students] know that nobody else at Chestnut has done it either."
The boat, the Emita II, set course from a dock at Dutchman's Landing in Baldwinsville for a leisurely journey down the Seneca River and onto Onondaga Lake. The children moved about the top deck of the boat, some searching the landscape with binoculars, as Montezuma Audubon Director Frank Moses pointed out details, including many species of birds.
He encouraged them to become what he called "citizen scientists."
"Part of this experience is not only to have an impact on the teachers and raising awareness with our local educators but having that experience for the students," Moses said. "These kids grow up right next to the lake and this helps them understand that it is a significant area and it is a special place to take care of."
The organizations involved have recognized Onondaga Lake as being an "important bird area" for it's value as a congregation area for waterfowl.
Among the bird species the tour spotted were mallard ducks, Canadian geese, a common loon, a mute swan, barn swallows, tree swallows and great blue herons.