Posts Tagged ‘Watershed Education’

Stream Snorkeling Returns this Summer!

Posted on: June 23rd, 2021 by Leslie_Zucker
Join AWSMP for stream snorkeling this summer on Friday July 9 or July 16.

AWSMP is pleased to announce the return of one of its most popular summer activities:  stream snorkeling! Discover the underwater world of streams by joining us for a fun filled morning of stream snorkeling in the Esopus Creek. This free program was created with families in mind. Participants must be at least 8 years old and those under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult (the adult does not have to snorkel). This event will be held at the Emerson Resort and Spa in Mount Tremper, New York. All equipment and supplies will be provided. Please bring a towel and wear swim clothes and old sneakers or closed-toed water shoes (no bare feet please).

This program is designed for people that live in the Ashokan Watershed. The Ashokan Watershed includes the Towns of Hurley, Olive, Woodstock, and Shandaken in Ulster County and the Towns of Lexington and Hunter in Greene County.

Space is limited to 15 participants so sign up now as this event may fill up quickly.

COVID-19 Safety Precautions will be followed, including wearing masks and social distancing where needed. Snorkeling equipment will be thoroughly disinfected prior to the event and after it is completed.

Only those that are snorkeling will need to register. If you are registering more than one person, you will have to register each one separately. Once you register you will get a letter in the mail with a release form that you will have to fill out and return to AWSMP.

There will be two separate sessions, with one being held on Friday, July 9 and the other being held on Friday, July 16. Please click the appropriate link below to sign up for the date that you wish to attend. Both events will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Friday July 9 Snorkeling Event Registration

Friday July 16 Snorkeling Event Registration

If you have any questions please contact Brent Gotsch at or call him at 845-688-3047 ext. 103. If the event becomes sold out please contact Brent and he will add you to a waiting list.

Watershed Detectives Club Is Off To A Great Start

Posted on: October 22nd, 2020 by Leslie_Zucker
A scene from the inaugural session of the 2020 Watershed Detectives Program held at the Ashokan Center. Photo by Matt Helffrich

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many events and activities to be cancelled or switched to an online format and for good reason. Traditional schooling for many students in the watershed has moved online fully or in a hybrid of online and limited in-person teaching. Most afterschool activities on school grounds have been cancelled indefinitely. Sadly, because of this there is a dearth of opportunities for extracurricular activities around most subjects, though especially science education. While the concern about the safety of in-person education is warranted, there are ways to hold in-person education that reduces the risk of exposure to the virus. In an effort to provide alternative program opportunities and to get students safely engaged in a stream-based and watershed curriculum, AWSMP has relaunched our popular Watershed Detectives Program with added safety features.

Watershed Detectives has traditionally been an afterschool program held at the Bennett Intermediate School in Boiceville for grades 4-6. This year, instead of being held on school grounds the program is being offered at the Ashokan Center in nearby Olivebridge, NY and for students in grades 4-8. Holding the program at the Ashokan Center allows for good physical distancing between students and access to the Ashokan Center’s numerous trails, streams and forests for learning and discovery. Several safety protocols have been put in place along with strict sanitation procedures to reduce the possibility of infection. While the location has changed the same great programming is taking place where students will learn about the importance of streams, watersheds, and riparian areas.

“It has definitely been a challenge getting this year’s program up and running, but we have a solid plan in place in an effort to keep things running smoothly,” says Matt Savatgy, AWSMP Youth Educator and leader of the Watershed Detective’s Program. “The kids are really enjoying being together, outdoors with their friends and are actively engaged in learning to become stewards for our watershed.”

Currently, the program is full. However, AWSMP hopes to have more youth and adult programs in the coming months. Please regularly check our webpage for upcoming events and programs offered both online and in-person.

The 2020 Watershed Detectives Emblem

AWSMP Hosts Successful Fall Foliage Walk

Posted on: October 6th, 2020 by Leslie_Zucker
AWSMP Educator Matt Savatgy teaches about watersheds during a hike on the Ashokan Quarry Trail

Last week on the morning of October 3rd, the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) hosted a fall foliage walk on the recently opened Ashokan Quarry Trail in Olivebridge, NY. AWSMP has a goal of hosting safe, socially distanced, in-person events if conditions allow. While it may have been a little early to experience the fall colors at their peak, there was perfect autumn weather and all ten participants had an excellent time.

The Ashokan Quarry Trail opened earlier this year and is an easy 2-mile loop that can be completed and enjoyed by hikers of all ability levels. Key points of interest included the on-site quarry where stone used in the construction of the Ashokan Reservoir was harvested, an abandoned railroad grade and loading station, and a scenic vista where several local mountain peaks could be viewed.  Along the route, AWSMP educators taught participants about watershed science, forest ecology, the history of the site and its importance in the construction of the Ashokan Reservoir.

AWSMP normally attends many community events and functions throughout the year in the Ashokan Watershed. However, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many of those events have been cancelled or postponed. In an effort to keep in touch with our streamside landowners and everyone who enjoys and benefits from the Ashokan Watershed, AWSMP has shifted the majority of its education and outreach programming to an online format. AWSMP educators have posted a number educational videos to our YouTube page so be sure to check those out.

When New York entered Phase 4 of reopening earlier this year, AWSMP instituted several outdoor, socially distanced events. If conditions and public health directives allow, AWSMP hopes to have more of these types of events this winter as well as next spring and summer.

Please visit the AWSMP website for the most up-to-date listings of events (online and in-person) and stay in touch through our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

New Video on Stream Channel Stability

Posted on: May 6th, 2020 by Tim Koch

The AWSMP office might be physically closed, but our education staff have been hard at work generating online stream based content for both youth and adults.

AWSMP Educators Matt Savatgy, Brent, Gotsch, Tim Koch, and Amanda Cabanillas.

AWSMP Educators (from left to right) Matt Savatgy, Brent Gotsch, Tim Koch, and Amanda Cabanillas during a snowshoe stream walk in 2019.


AWSMP Stream Educator Tim Koch has just released a new video on stream channel stability: what it is, and why it is important to maintain and improve the stability of our rivers and streams. This 9-minute video is meant for landowners, municipal officials, conservation advisory council members, and anyone else interested in or involved in stream management.


This video can also be viewed directly from AWSMP’s YouTube Channel.

AWSMP Watershed Youth Educator Matt Savatgy and Program Assistant Amanda Cabanillas are currently producing a series of educational videos and at-home activities for students. Follow along at home as they discuss different types of rocks, assess a culvert, and investigate stream features in a channel cross-section.


Screenshot of CCE Ulster Youth Education Video Series Website

Screenshot of CCE Ulster Youth Science Education Video Series Website


The online science series can be found at the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County website and on the AWSMP website under Videos.

Check back with us in the coming weeks, especially if you are a streamside landowner or own property in the Special Flood Hazard Area as Resource Educator Brent Gotsch will be producing a series of short videos on floodplains, floodproofing, and all things flood insurance. In these upcoming videos, Brent will teach viewers how to read a flood insurance rate map (FIRM) and the workings of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) among other flood related topics.

As always, our education and technical staff are available to answer any stream, floodplain, or riparian buffer related questions! Call the AWSMP office main line at (845) 688-3047 for assistance or email

A Sojourn into the Wizarding World

Posted on: June 24th, 2016 by Leslie_Zucker

After a year of activities ranging from dissecting owl pellets to rollercoaster engineering, the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) presented some watershed activities to the 4-H Tech Wizards – students at Miller Middle School, Bailey Middle School, and Ellenville Elementary School. 4-H Tech Wizards is a Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County program run by educators Allison Solian and Matt Helffrich.


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Watershed Educator, Brent Gotsch, and Bailey Middle School Tech Wizards exploring watersheds and the importance of watershed protection.


Our first session with the wizards started off with a discussion about the water cycle and where water comes from. We then focused on how water flows across the landscape and collects in a watershed. The wizards discussed things that humans typically build near water and then built a watershed from paper complete with farms, houses, and factories. We used different water-soluble colored markers to represent the pollutants that can be produced by those developments if not managed well, and filled in the crevices of the landscape. Then came the really exciting part – a spray bottle filled with water. “Wow!!” exclaimed the kids as they could see all the different “pollutants” run down from their developed areas and collect in the watershed in the middle of the tray. Our conversation seamlessly flowed into discussion about the importance of conservation and protection of our watersheds for human use and environmental stability.



Watershed Educator, Caroline Stupple, and Ellenville Elementary School Tech Wizards exploring the importance of wetlands and what removing them can do to the flooding pattern of a stream.


Our second session was another water-based activity – the floodplain model! The wizards were an engaged and thoughtful bunch whose enthusiasm for flooding out the little model villages they built was matched by their fascination with possible engineering solutions to the flooding problems. After testing predictions and solutions, the wizards were able to look at a Flood Insurance Rate Map for their school district and were surprised to learn about their school’s proximity to floodplains, and about flood protection techniques. At the end the wizards were allowed to stopper the end of the model and pour water on the rainmaker, this sent all their homes afloat; the pure joy this brought to the wizards was well worth it.



Watershed Educator, Matt Savatgy, and Miller Elementary School Tech Wizards manipulating the model and examining the impacts that developing impervious structures, such as parking lots, has on streams.


AWSMP had a great time working with the Tech Wizard’s 4-H Club and we look forward to more fun stream activities with them this summer!


Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts – Oh My!

Posted on: June 17th, 2016 by Leslie_Zucker

Watershed Educator, Caroline Stupple, demonstrating the floodplain model to Roundout Valley Scout Camporee attendees June 11, 2016. Photo by Matt Savatgy


Roundout Valley held their annual Scout Camporee and the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program (AWSMP) was asked to present alongside many other amazing educators and their displays. The Camporee started off with a grand scout flag raising ceremony followed by about 300 scouts making rounds to all the displays set before them. Among the exciting exhibits, just to name just a few, were Betty Boomer with a variety of pond macroinvertebrates, amphibians, and reptiles for the scouts to explore and Wild Mountain Birds wildlife rehabilitators with a rehabilitated birds display.

AWSMP set up an interactive floodplain model to educate participants about the importance of watersheds, specifically as it relates to development, stormwater run-off, and floodplain management. These concepts are complex in nature and have long histories entwined in both science and policy, making the content tough to present in an approachable manner. The floodplain model, however, provides a manipulatable visual that makes those very concepts more accessible to kids and adults alike. The educational content, disguised in a fun hands-on, water-based activity, drew scouts and general campground attendees back to the table multiple times. Kids who had seen the display once or twice earlier in the day returned and were excited to explain the impacts of the different manipulations to the new crowd. Turning students into educators is what we love to see!

Despite down pouring rain, thunder, and cooler temperatures the event was a smashing hit and we look forward to future collaborations!