Students Become Hudson River Estuary Scientists for a Day

Location: Hudson River Reserve

Each fall, students and educators from New York City to Troy, New York, gather at sites along 160 miles of the Hudson River and New York Harbor to be scientists for a day. The Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor program provides students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience studying water quality, measuring the tide, and identifying types of fish. This adventure teaches students that science doesn’t just exist in laboratories or textbooks, but that science is all around.

Chris Bowser, education coordinator for the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, works with students during the event each year. For many of these students, this opportunity is their first time exploring the estuary and the creatures that call it home. Students leave with an appreciation for the critical role estuaries play in their lives, and a sense of ownership and responsibility to “their estuary.”

According to fifth-grade teacher Skip Hoover, the day has great significance. “I teach in an inner-city school district where a majority of my students rarely visit the Hudson River, and they are shocked to learn that their drinking water comes from the river,” he says. One former student went on to earn a college environmental degree, working for the Hudson River Research Reserve last year.

Beginning in 2003 with around 300 students, Day in the Life of the Hudson and Harbor has grown to an estimated 5,500 students who participate at 90 sites along the river. This event is coordinated by a team from the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Students using a seine net during the event
Students using a seine net during the event. Credit: Chris Bowser