The Christopher Stutler Scholarship was established over 10 years ago by the parents of Christopher Stutler to honor his memory and love for the Hudson River. Each year this scholarship enables one student from Croton Harmon High School to gain significant educational experience through visits to School 5’s fifth grade class in Yonkers with Clearwater’s Education staff. The scholar then spends a week aboard Clearwater, and a week aboard our sister ship, Mystic Whaler, learning and teaching about the Hudson River.
This year, Rory Michelin was the recipient of our annual Christopher Stutler Scholarship.
Rory’s experience began with a trip to School 5 in Yonkers, where he assisted in an excellent display of inquiry-based learning with Mrs. Graham’s fifth grade class. The students watched intently as their classmates poured everyday household products into a glass jar containing water to simulate the types of pollutants found in the Hudson River. When the jar was filled with oil, vinegar, peanut butter, dirt, maple syrup and food coloring, we gave it a nice shake, much to the amusement of the students who squirmed and giggled at the repugnant mixture. Groups of students were then given a sample of their polluted water and a variety of tools, with instructions to clean it up. Their methods were a source of entertainment to say the least. However, the inspirational moment was when they realized how difficult cleaning up the mess actually was. What’s the take home message? It is better to protect our water from becoming polluted in the first place, than to allow the pollution and depletion of this vital natural resource.
A week later, Rory visited Mr. Gonzales’s fifth grade class at School 5 in Yonkers. He brought his good buddies, Hogchoker, American Eel, and Catfish to introduce to the students. Understanding what lives in the Hudson River is integral to mobilizing environmental responsibility and stewardship, especially at a young age. And who doesn’t think a hogchoker is adorable? Their session was concluded with a few songs, sung with the class. Rory, a young man of many talents, also plays a mean guitar, and rocked out to “The River That Flows Both Ways.”
Rory then spent two weeks as a youth intern, facilitating Clearwater’s onboard education program. He excelled at teaching history, navigation, water chemistry, and life in the Hudson River.
The entire experience culminated on June 14th, with School 5 coming onboard for Clearwater’s classic education sail. Rory returned for that day and shared the knowledge he gained from his weeks onboard Clearwater and Mystic Whaler with the fifth grade classes. He already had a rapport with the students, so they were completely enthralled. He was able to teach the Hudson River Life station at an advanced level, building upon what they had already learned in the classroom. His creative techniques really engaged the students; many of them sincerely want to be just like him someday. He was a valuable member of the boat community and an absolute pleasure to have onboard.
There is no doubt in my mind that Rory will be a long time friend and active member in Clearwater’s education program. Rory and the School 5 students now have a great understanding of the life in the Hudson River and are well equipped to be the next generation responsible for the care of the river that flows both ways.