I can’t believe it, this hitch marks our halfway point for our ACE VUS summer season here in Oklahoma! Just in the short time we have been here, we have all done so much. Fish attractors, surveying, trail work, primitive campsites, surveying, fish collectors, oh, did I mention…surveying?! Just in half a summer we have been so many places and done so much, not only for the ACE but also for ourselves and our environment. In one of our previous hitches if you remember, we made fish attractors. Well, in this hitch we did some fish collecting! It’s a lot more conservation related than it sounds, I promise. Read on about our last two weeks and you’ll learn a little about it!
7/22/2013 – Alex Arrives!:
Today we got to welcome our project manager, Alex, to Muskogee! Throughout the season, Alex goes to all the different teams to check up on them and make sure everything is running smoothly, so it was finally Oklahoma’s turn! We welcomed him with a homemade meal and then played some intense bocce ball in the backyard. (He kicked our butts!) After a long day of driving for Alex, and an early morning of surveying the next day, lights were out early.
7/23/2013 – BBQ & Cornhole:
Alex went out to survey with some of us today to get to know us a little more and also do some mid-season reviews about the program. During our survey periods, we talked about making a cornhole board. After much deep-thinking about this idea… we decided that we needed to make cornhole bags first. Later in the day we set out to find supplies to sew up some bags. In the meantime, Alex took us out for an amazing barbecue dinner! After many laughs and stories, our tummies were full and we headed home. When we got home we eventually completed the cornhole bags and they turned out great!
7/24/2013 – Alex Leaves :(
After saying our goodbyes, we saw Alex off so he could make his way down south to Texas. It was a short, but great visit.
7/25/2013 – Buzzard Roost Ranch:
Our team’s favorite day, conservation day! Today we got to head over to Buzzard Roost Ranch near a town named Dustin, OK and were able to help out the Oklahoma State Conservation Commission, Water Quality Division. The specific agency we got to work with in this division is called Blue Thumb. Blue Thumb monitors around 100 streams across Oklahoma and educates others about stream quality and its importance. One of our team members was able to get in touch with them, and we got the opportunity to go to one of their volunteer’s ranch and do some fish collection in the stream that ﬂowed through their 800 acres. The work entailed walking the stream for about 1/2 mile and noting the depths, widths, and kinds of vegetation there were about every 20 feet. After we finished with this, we got to move onto even more fun stuff, seining! Seining involves a large net that gets drug through water vertically to easily catch multiple fish. The purpose of this was to see what types of fish are in the stream and find the most predominant species. But why do all of this? They do it to find out the quality of habitat the stream provides for different species and what species are living there, with certain species acting as indicators for others. We collected 14 species in total, 5 of them frequently found sharing habitat in healthy stream ecosystems. After a long day of fish collecting, the lovely Buzzard Roost Ranch hosts invited everyone in for some delicious longhorn burgers and showed us around their property a bit. It was a long, tiring, but very fun and educational day for us all!
7/26/2013 to 7/28/2013 – Surveying:
Another hot, muggy weekend of surveys for us! We were all pretty tired from a long week and kept it pretty quiet this weekend.
7/29/2013 – “I Love Trash!”:
This morning, we were all quoting Oscar the Grouch…”I love trash!” Our conservation day consisted of heading out to Chandler Park in Tulsa to do a trash pick-up. A few of our team members had visited Chandler Park previously in the season to do some bouldering and hiking. It was a beautiful place; however, there was garbage everywhere! We decided to care for a place that we all love and want others to enjoy without the trash, so we set out and filled multiple trash bags of debris and waste. Afterwards, we decided to enjoy our hard work and do some bouldering. We all thought it to be much more enjoyable without the junk everywhere!
7/30/2013 to 8/4/2013 – Surveying and Historical Sites:
These days were kept busy with surveying and a few scattered rain showers, but nothing too crazy. Throughout the week, a couple of team members checked out different historical sites on their personal time. Sites included the USS Batfish (a submarine from 1945), the Fort Gibson Historic Site (a vital military post during the civil war), and the Fort Gibson National Cemetery. All in all, it was a good week for our team, and now it’s time for a new hitch leader and another team switch!