TROY — The Stillwater River served as an adventurous tubing destination for dozens of Miami County students this week, thanks to the river float program hosted by Brukner Nature Center.
The program, entitled “Wild About Water,” ran in conjunction with Brukner’s regular summer camp activities as an event for students grades sixth through 12.
Thursday’s “Wild About Water” installment followed a previous installment of the program held July 17. Both installments completely filled up in pre-registration.
According to wildlife educator Brian Ayres, the program provides an alternative to day camp programs for older kids looking to engage with nature.
“Our younger kids get to come to the week-long camps, but with our older kids, we want to do something a little more exciting,” Ayres said. “It takes a little more to keep their attention, so this is a fun option for them.”
Participating students began the day with seining activities to study organisms native to the river. Using seining nets and basic rock displacement, the students and Brukner staff measured the stream quality of the Stillwater River, which is known for its slow-moving, clean, clear water.
“Based on what critters we find there, it allows us to determine how healthy the river is,” said wildlife educator Brian Ayres. “We’ll actually send that information in to the state, and they’ll respond that the Stillwater River is very clean. It’s always a good thing for kids to see. It doesn’t involve anything too complicated, but it’s a good way to figure out the health of the river based on what’s living there.”
Following seining activities, students tubed down the river from Brukner’s main center to Brukner’s River’s Edge property on Calumet Road, taking time to snorkel in select areas of the route.
“Where it’s a little deeper, we can see minnows a lot of the time and some of the bigger things that live in the river,” Ayres said. “All along the way, we watch for turtle species, bird species, and whatever else we can identify.”
Excluding a stop for lunch, the tubing journey takes roughly three hours.
“A lot of the river is very slow-moving, so it takes a while for the tubes to get through,” Ayres explained.
The staff at Brukner hope the experience offers not only a fun outdoor adventure for kids, but also a bit of enlightenment on the importance of clean and healthy wildlife.
“Especially with doing the kick-seining and the work with the aquatic creatures, we hope that kids will see how that effects the health of the river. Our group last week enjoyed seining so much, we actually got behind schedule on tubing. At the same time, floating on the river is very fun for the kids.”
For more information, visit www.bruknernaturecenter.com.