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Seventh Grade Students Fish to Help the Chester

On Wednesday, May 10 Kent School Seventh Grade students held a fishing derby - Catch The Invaders. The purpose of the derby was to catch invasive species in the Chester River. Catch the Invaders was a culminating project that the students developed as part of the Watershed Watch initiative in conjunction with Sultana Education Foundation.
Watershed Watch was started in 2018 by Sultana Education Foundation and works with all Seventh Grade students in Kent County. It is an in-depth citizen science program in which students conduct a long-term investigation of Radcliffe Creek, the tributary of the Chester River closest to Chestertown. The program follows NOAA’s Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) curriculum model.  Throughout the course of their investigation, students participate in a variety of classroom-based lesson plans and field experiences led by Foundation staff members that address current issues facing Radcliffe Creek. Students produce tangible water quality data Watershed watch culminates in the implementation of student-led action projects to improve water quality and educate the public about local environmental challenges facing their community.

Through Watershed Watch, Kent School students learned about the damage that invasive species can have on habitat and food sources of native species. The students collectively decided that their student-led action would be to reduce the population of invasive Blue Catfish in the Chester River. Catch the Invaders was put into action. Seventh Grade student, Declan Reed said “Blue Catfish are harmful to native catfish species so we are trying to catch as many as we can.” Students were permitted to fish from a private dock on the Chester. Over the course of the two-hour derby students caught Channel Catfish, Brown Bullhead, White Perch, and American Eel. Using a seine net students caught Atlantic Silversides and Bay Anchovies. No invasive species were caught. Middle School Science teacher, Heidi Usilton said, “Even though we did not catch any Blue Catfish these students know what these fish look like and are aware of the negative impact they are having on area tributaries. If they catch a Blue Catfish on their own, they will know they are in fact catching an invader. The students have learned that even though the Channel Catfish is not considered invasive, it is actually a non-native species to the Chesapeake Bay.”.

Chesapeake Bay Studies as an integrated part of Kent School’s Science curriculum from Preschool through Grade Eight. Nancy Mugele, Head of School at Kent School said, “We are so fortunate that our school is situated on the bank of the Chester River. Our location combined with the relationships that we have cultivated with organizations like the Sultana Education Foundation, Echo Hill Outdoor School, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Center for Environment and Society at Washington College provide our students with unique opportunities to learn from, and about, our immediate environment.” Mugele continued, “Projects like the Watershed Watch Initiative are so meaningful to our students because they are putting their learning to work on behalf of their community. I am proud to see them become advocates for our environment and am hopeful that they will take these lessons into adulthood and become lifelong stewards of our waterways.”

Kent School is an inclusive school community designed for effective learning, immersed in the natural environment. We are research-driven and committed to nurturing our students’ potential for active citizenship in a connected world through academic, artistic, athletic, and moral excellence. For more information visit www.kentschool.org or call 410-778-4100 ext. 110