Estuary Explorers

The North and South Rivers Watershed Association’s Estuary Explorers program brings school-aged youth to the North River estuary to engage in guided scientific explorations through hands-on activities. Thanks to our funders: Battelle, the Cordelia Family Foundation, Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, the Kellaway Family and other private donors, local kids get to experience nature and learn about environmental science, which we hope will inspire them to become better stewards of nature, specifically our water resources.

To see photos of the YMCA campers on their Estuary Explorers trip go to our Facebook page.

Research suggests that as our connection to nature increases so does our interest in conserving it. By experiencing the river and the surrounding natural environments, we hope to inspire area youth to become better stewards of our local natural treasures. NSRWA’s Estuary Explorers learn first-hand about science, nature, and teamwork while participating in this outdoors education program. For many participants, this is their first time on the North River—the only scenic protected river in the state.

The Estuary Explorers Program is intended to complement the science education that youth receive through the school STEM curriculum by facilitating environmental education in a hands-on, meaningful, and fun way. Participants learn about estuarine science while on a pontoon boat on the North River and on land at “the Spit”.

On the boat tour, the kids get to explore the diverse estuarine habitats of the North River from Route 3A to the Spit. They participate in collecting data on water quality and marine life using scientific tools. The trip offers hands-on opportunities to participate in several scientific activities, including water sampling, bottom grabs and plankton tows. The students learn about the ecology of a salt water estuary by studying the conditions found in a salt marsh, sand flats, mud flats and an exposed high-energy beach. They collect data on the salinity, oxygen levels and sediment to see how differences in those conditions affect the type of life that can survive there.

At the Spit, a shifting sand flat mostly accessible only by boat, the students examine the life that exists in the tide pools. They have the chance to get their feet wet and explore! The kids collect a variety of animals including invasive green crabs and Asian shore crabs, sea stars, and tunicates, which are creatures that look like colorful blobs but are actually a colony of individual animals. In addition, on the walk to and from the tide pools, the students learn about dune and salt marsh habitats.

Program instructors are NSRWA educators who work with our summer interns, camp counselors and school teachers from partner organizations. Our lead instructor is Don Salvatore who has over two decades of experience as an educator with the Museum of Science and who has been teaching kids and adults on the South Shore with us over the last 5 years.

We seek to provide this program to area youth groups and environmental clubs. To accomplish this, we partner with other local organizations to offer the Estuary Explorers program to children enrolled in their camps or clubs. Some of our partners include: Marshfield Boys and Girls Clubs, South Shore YMCA, South Shore Natural Science Center, South Shore Stars, MassAudubon South Shore Sanctuary, South Shore Vocational Technical High School in Hanover and Rockland High School.

For more information about the Estuary Explorers program, contact Lori Wolfe, lori@nsrwa.org.

Estuary Explorers is made possible by Battelle, the Cordelia Family Foundation, Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation and the Kellaway Family.