Athens Water Festival 2017

Last Saturday, EcoReach volunteered once again at the Athens-Clarke County’s annual Athens Water Festival. This year’s theme was “Be a Sewer Hero” and the EcoReach booth was titled “The Amazing Underwater Tape of the Caddisfly, a true superhero of the stream”. Caddisflies (Order: Trichoptera) are important freshwater insects that contribute to aquatic ecosystems by feeding on detritus and leaf litter as larvae, existing as prey for other organisms, and also functioning as indicators of good stream water quality. Additionally, caddisflies are incredible architects. Many larvae will build cases using salivary secretions that act as an underwater double-stick tape so that materials such as wood, rocks, or shells can attach and form a casing around their bodies. These cases provide protection and camouflage from stream debris and predators.

EcoReach volunteers had caddisfly cases that were recently collected from Cowetta, GA, to show the visitors, along with many preserved caddisflies and other aquatic insects that can be found throughout streams in Georgia. To learn more about the Amazing Underwater Tape of Caddisflies, please visit this PBS video that our volunteers also played during the festival.

Check out our photos below!

Emily showing off the caddisfly cases to visitors
Carolyn and Denzell identifying our many aquatic insects at the booth
A young visitor was teaching Carol about caddisflies!
So many awesome aquatic insects!
Carol and a visitor discussing the importance of caddisflies
These visitors were watching the PBS video “The Amazing Underwater Tape of the Caddisfly
Superhero Emily made her own caddisfly case!
Our very helpful volunteer also made her own caddisfly case!



Eclipse Viewing at J.J. Harris!

Leading up to this past solar eclipse, the College of Education and the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences through UGA created a campaign to “Help Clarke County Students Watch the Solar Eclipse” (Georgia Funder). This campaign not only existed to provide all prekindergarten through 12th grade students in Clarke County with solar eclipse glasses, but it also brought teams of STEM educators and researchers to each of the schools.

EcoReach brought two members to J.J. Harris Elementary Charter School where they helped out with first and second grade classes. While the students were waiting for the eclipse to occur, the EcoReach volunteers briefly taught each of the classes about why solar eclipses occur and asked the students to make predictions about what they will see throughout the eclipse. Once the students were outside, the volunteers answered questions and provided helpful (and constant) reminders to keep their glasses on. Overall, the students were very excited and EcoReach had a great time sharing this experience with the school.

The kids showing off their handmade eclipse masks with Reed (Photo by Nancy Evelyn)
Kaylee viewing the eclipse with a student (Photo by Nancy Evelyn)
Reed and Kaylee posing outside of J.J. Harris with UGA Eclipse Blackout shirts (Photo by Nancy Evelyn)

EcoReach General Body Meeting

EcoReach is having its first general body meeting of the academic year next Tuesday, September 5th at 5pm in the Ecology Auditorium (Room #201). There’s going to be lots of important information distributed, including ways for you to get involved in EcoReach during the upcoming school year, so you won’t want to miss out!


During the meeting we will be:

-reviewing our goals for the 2017-2018 academic year

-discussing Fall 2017 events (and signing up for them)

-learning about background checks/training requirements for working with minors (as now is required by UGA)

-signing up for committees


Everyone is welcome to attend this meeting (undergrads, graduate students, post-docs, faculty, staff, etc.), so please encourage your eco-friends to attend! As if you needed another reason to come to the meeting…. there will be some snacks and free EcoReach stickers!




EcoReach participated in its first event of the 2017-2018 school year at the Winterville Library End of Summer Reading Program (ERSP) Party. The library event was held in order to honor students that participated in the Summer Reading Program. As part of the event, EcoReach provided two hands-on, ecology-related activities that fit in with the theme of the Summer Reading Program, Build a Better World. For the first activity, students created bird feeders out of recycled egg cartons and also learned about local birds. For the second activity, students learned about the water cycle by creating a water cycle bracelet. We had a great time interacting with the Winterville community and look forward to more events there in the future!

Kelsey modeling the water cycle bracelet with her new friend.
Caitlin showing off her bird feeder.
Making bird feeders!


EcoReach ended the 2016-2017 academic year with lots of fun events!

In early March, EcoReach volunteers visited Cleveland Roads Elementary School for Career Day. The students at Cleveland Roads learned all about what it’s like to be a freshwater ecologist, conducted a practice stream bioassessment, even got to see some stream macroinvertebrates up close!

Students working on stream bioassessment activity with EcoReach volunteer, Nate.

In mid-March, one of our volunteers, Reed Solly, visited Cedar Shoals High School to represent EcoReach for the school’s Environmental Fair. Students at Cedar Shoals learned about small decisions that they can make each day to help protect our planet.

In late March, we took the Owl Pellet dissection activity to the Oglethorpe Branch of the Athens-Clarke Country (ACC) library system. Students were excited to learn about predator traits and trophic dynamics through dissecting owl pellets!

Finally, in early April, we conducted our second activity at the Athens Branch of the ACC library system. This activity was all about disease! Students learned about what causes diseases, how diseases spread, and and how we can prevent the spread of diseases through interactive activities using glo-germ and disease spreading simulations.

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Students at the ACC-Athens library after the conclusion of the disease activity.


Building a Rain Garden at Stroud Elementary School

Last semester, EcoReach presented two lessons on water quality to Howard B. Stroud Elementary School’s problem-solving class. In order to improve water quality in a nearby stream to the school, Trail Creek, students in the class decided that they wanted to install a rain garden on Stroud’s campus. The rain garden will have two purposes. First, the rain garden will decrease the amount of stormwater runoff to Trail Creek during rain events by promoting infiltration of the runoff into the ground. Second, by promoting infiltration, the contaminants in the stormwater runoff can be filtered out naturally.

Last Thursday, EcoReach volunteers were able to assist the students and staff of Stroud in building a rain garden near the entrance of the school. It was a beautiful day to get outside and do some gardening! EcoReachers had a blast teaching the students gardening skills. We are so proud of the students at Stroud for taking direct action and helping to improve the water quality of Athens streams! We are excited to work more with Stroud students in the future.


Career Presentation at Starling Elementary School

Last Monday, March 27th, EcoReachers Kaylee Hasina and Emily Johnson traveled to Grayson, Georgia, to give a presentation to the Green Team students at Starling Elementary School. Kaylee and Emily talked to the students about the importance of ecology and different career options within the field of ecology. Kaylee and Emily were even able to share some pictures and stories about their own work in ecology! The students had a great time learning about careers in ecology.