Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and World-Class Scientists Bridge the Science Education Gap

Government, Science, Environmental Groups, and Pete Seeger take the pulse of the Hudson River, and bring it to thousands of young people.

POUGHKEEPSIE—Inner city students, world-class scientists, and environmental leaders will gather at Waryas Park in Poughkeepsie on June 5 to unveil a new, mobile environmental monitoring system onboard the sloop Clearwater that will help scientists take the pulse of the Hudson River.

The state-of-the-art installation is the latest component of the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System (HRECOS) — a multi-million dollar monitoring network comprised of eight permanent stations located throughout the Hudson River estuary from Schodack Island in Rensselaer County to the New York/New Jersey harbor. The unique partnership will make a range of real-time data taken from the Hudson River accessible in the classroom via the Internet.

The partnership represents a bold collaborative initiative among New York State government, private scientific, and non-profit environmental organizations to bring real, world-class science being conducted on the Hudson River into the classroom, and to also bring the classroom to the River.

“This is a great opportunity for the thousands of kids who sail on Clearwater to see the direct connection between their experience on the river and the work of some of the best scientific organizations in the country,” said Jeff Rumpf, Executive Director of Clearwater. “This collaboration of State government, scientific institutions, and environmental organizations significantly raises the bar of education, and with no additional cost to taxpayers. At a time when educational funding across New York is being cut, a new collaborative model of science, environmentalism, and government coming together in service to kids seems to be working.”

Several Hudson River environmental leaders will speak at the 12:30 p.m. press event, including New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis; Hudson River Foundation Executive Director Clay Hiles; former Chair of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commission Joan Davidson; and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater Board President Allan Shope. To launch the partnership, students and members of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) American Eel Program will join Hudson Valley scientists and government officials on a two-hour sail aboard the sloop Clearwater. Scientists and educators will demonstrate the many useful applications of the river monitoring data.

With funding from the Hudson River Foundation, HRECOS is operated by a consortium of partners from government and the research community including DEC, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Hudson River Estuary Program, Stevens Institute of Technology, the Cary Institute, Riverkeeper, National Estuarine Research Reserve, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, and other organizations.

“Having a capability to acquire data in real-time from the Hudson River via the Clearwater as she sails will greatly benefit all those who care about and use the river. Scientists and engineers in particular will use the data to better understand the estuarine conditions that are occurring at that moment and predict what is likely to occur in the next few days,” said Alan Blumberg, Director of the Center for Maritime Systems at the Stevens Institute. “A successful installation on the Clearwater will be a prototype for similar installation on other vessels, enabling an ever more comprehensive view of the Hudson.”

As part of its mission to inspire, educate, and activate the next generation of environmental leaders, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater integrates educational programs and science curriculum by bringing young people sailing on the Hudson and teaching them first-hand the complex ecological issues facing estuary scientists.

HRECOS stations send continuous updates to www.hrecos.org for the purposes of environmental forecasting and assessment. The partnership with Clearwater not only adds a vital mobile dimension to the monitoring network used by scientists, but serves as the key link between scientists and schools.

Thousands of students who participate in Clearwater’s educational sails along the Hudson each year will be able to work with the same monitoring data that scientists use. Moreover, because the data is collected, stored, and accessed online, students will be able to return to the Hudson River virtually as they continue to monitor the heartbeat of the Hudson from inside their classrooms.

The station on the Clearwater will track conditions from Albany to the New York harbor. Instruments purchased by the Hudson River Foundation and installed by the Stevens Institute will continuously transmit the location of the Clearwater, as well as measurements of water quality that include: dissolved oxygen, turbidity, salinity, and water temperature. The eighth station will be installed at Marist College in Poughkeepsie later this year.

Clay Hiles, Executive Director of the Hudson River Foundation for Science and Environmental Research, said: “The Hudson River Foundation has been very pleased to support the overall development of HRECOS and this significant expansion.  This comprehensive effort to increase our understanding of the Hudson River on a real-time and long-term basis has brought together the talents of several outstanding research and education institutions in an extraordinary example of collaboration that now includes the Hudson’s environmental flagship.”

Clearwater’s participation in River Day on June 5 will also include a performance by Pete Seeger, Roland Moussa, David Amram, Linda Richards, and the Power of Song following the 12:30 press event at Waryas Park. The sloop Clearwater and the schooner Mystic Whaler will then join the Riverkeeper to lead a sail flotilla from Poughkeepsie to the Rondout dock in Kingston at the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Congressman Maurice Hinchey will be among those welcoming the flotilla to Kingston. Congressman Hinchey is also expected to make a special announcement at the Maritime Museum about the partnership consortium and Clearwater’s continued presence as part of the Kingston waterfront.

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