The windless summer seemed to turn overnight into cold, blustery, gusty days. This week began with shorts and tank tops and is ending with three pairs of pants and four sweaters. Tea consumption has skyrocketed and no one even mentions the frozen yogurt place, even though we are in Poughkeepsie.
We have been fighting the weather all week. And sometimes, that means that we don’t go sailing. It’s ok though. We turned a few of our sails into dockside extravaganzas. Although the adventurer in me is frustrated, the educator in me is thrilled because in these conditions, so much more can be learned dockside. We still get to experience the river and the boat, but without concerns of materials flying overboard or spray shooting over the bow and soaking the students. We can even do cool things like look over the stern at the rudder or give students a tour of the engine room and bosun’s locker – places that are off limits while underway.
And after the program is over and we need to transit, we are reassured of our dockside decisions…
The last month of July and the first month of August hosted the Clearwater’s Youth Empowerment Programs, Young Men and Young Women at the Helm. These programs are a great way for the Clearwater to bring new people into our fold. The energy that these programs and their participants bring to the boat is often unbelievable. The crew often sees students for just three hours during a typical education program, and then not again unless by chance. But during these programs participants are onboard for three whole days and gain control and agency in the running of the Clearwater deck each day. Watching their progression is inspiring each year. These programs are in their sixth and thirteenth years of programming, and each year is a learning experience for the crew and an opportunity for us to try something new and exciting.
These programs are an investment in the Hudson River and its watershed. Students come from throughout the Valley and gain a great deal of knowledge about the Hudson and the very real environmental issues that it faces. By training these young folks in watershed education, we help them become more active participants in their environments.
One exciting part of this year has been our collaboration with the Achievement First Charter Network. The Achievement First Charter Network has an extensive summer internship program, which sends students to a wide variety of summer programming each year. This year, four students participated in the Youth Empowerment programs, and then volunteered for a week this summer. The Achievement First students did an amazing job, and watching them grow in their deck skills, their environmental knowledge, and their ownership of the river and the boat has been really wonderful. We hope they will come back for another volunteer week next year!
Shania and Joia breaking silence
Corey hauling on the peak halyard
This year we were able to get a great deal of wonderful pictures documenting the programs. View these at our Flickr account.
Each year about 15 young women from all over the Hudson Valley come together for Clearwater’s Young Women at the Helm. This program brings young people together for an intense three days of adventure, learning, and hard work. The first day always brings wary looks and exclamations of, “You want me to do what?!” But by the end of the third day, the young women are crewing the boat themselves and teaching each other about what they had learned just a few days before. We hope that after the program they can take this mindset back to their lives, use it to overcome challenges and become active players in their own communities and environments.
Here is a smattering of the activities from Young Women at the Helm 2015:
Furling the jib
Learning about watersheds in front of Storm King Mountain
Throwing docklines for Sloop Olympics
We did it!
In the Hudson River Valley, many invasive species plague our waterways, wetlands, and uplands. These fish, plants, and invertebrates are not native to our ecosystem and cause harm, often by out-competing native species or changing habitats. Usually invasive species do not have natural predators in the environment to which they are introduced, and their populations are able to grow, unchecked by predation!
Sam talks about invasive species and the Hudson River Watershed
Here at Clearwater, we are concerned about the many fish and plants that are invasive to our beloved Hudson River. On a sail with the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, Clearwater’s Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Sam came aboard to teach passengers about Hudson River invasives.
Community members were engaged and asked lots of questions about what they can do to stop the spread of these organisms. One of the most proactive things boaters can do to stop aquatic invaders is, “Clean, Drain, Dry!” Most aquatic invasives spread via boating, so cleaning and draining your boat of water before entering a new waterway is imperative.
Sam also taught passengers about aquatic invasive plants like hydrilla. Passengers viewed examples of aquatic invasives displayed in our fish tank such as weather fish, goldfish, zebra mussels, and water chestnuts. It was a fantastic sail filled with learning, participation, and community education.