Friday, June 27, 2014


Last night, we had an excellent presentation by April Claus all about herps (otherwise known as reptiles and amphibians). She taught us all about our native species and how to identify them in the wild. We also got to see some live specimens! Some of the species she brought included a Rat Snake, two Corn Snakes, a Musk Turtle, a Garter Snake, a Milk Snake, a Spotted Salamander, a Spring Peeper, and an American Toad!

After that fantastic presentation, April Claus led us on a very successful hunt for frogs, toads, and salamanders.  Almost immediately, we found American Toads no bigger than nickels and heard Green Frogs and Bullfrogs.  We also had a great find: a Gray Tree Frog!

walking to a stream, we began a search for salamanders that had everyone scrambling through mud and water for a variety of salamanders, including Northern and Mountain Dusky, Spotted Salamanders, Slimy Salamanders, and a lot more!

We finished our hike with a Spring Peeper and a few more salamanders and exited the woods while listening to a chorus of Gray Tree Frogs.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

PA Fish and Boat Commission Hatchery

Today we traveled to the PA  Fish & Boat Commission fish hatchery in  Linesville.
The hatchery was a big facility with huge tanks of various types of fish, for example there were  walleye,  brown  trout,  bluegill and three species of catfish.  Although  many species can be found in these tanks, only walleye, muskellunge, channel catfish and several other species are bred. In early spring, fish are trapnetted in the 2,500 acre PA Fish & Boat Commission sanctuary that flows into Pymatuning reservoir. The fish are bred by mixing the eggs from female specimens and the sperm from male specimens.  Both fish frye and fingerlings are then stocked after being raised in holding tanks.

The Night Sky

On Wednesday night, the Creek Campers went to Allegheny's planetarium to have Dr. Lombardi give us a presentation on the night sky. He first presented us with a slide show that showed us how to see the constellations and the different galaxies. After the slide show, Dr. Lombardi turned on the over head planetarium to have us try and find the constellations on our own. He also explained that A.M. means ante (before) meridian and that P.M. means post meridian. The meridian is the great circle of the celestial sphere that passes through its poles and the observer's highest point. Dr. Lombardi did a great job, and the planetarium was a very cool experience!


Canoe Trip on Sugar Lake

Today we where supposed to go canoeing on the French River, but due to high water and fast water we went to Sugar Lake. When we got there we waited for fishing boats to go in the water then we got are life jackets, ores, and canoes. Then we where off in the water. we went around the whole lake. Towards the the end of the trip on the lake, we all had a big water fight! After that we got back to the van and started jumping off a dock into the water. We where all tired in the car ride back.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


The bats we saw were the big brown bats and the little brown bats. The big brown bats are two times bigger then the little bats. I've never seen a bat in person and seeing one for the first time is the best. I think they are very cute


Dam tour

When we all when to the Dam I've never been to one before. The time and effort that goes into keeping them running is a lot of work. The gates that keep the water back are very big and the machine to lift the gates are very large and must be very hard to maintain. Hey Joe the tree uses for the Dam is flood control, low flow augmentation, and recreation.   


Lunch!! June 25th

Today, we got hot dogs from Eddie's. A local place that has foot long hot dogs with a plethora of toppings. There was a torrential downpour happening at the exact moment we were getting hot dogs so, we ate in the van! The hot dogs were killer and the french fries were also amazing. After we finished eating a terribly healthy lunch, we haaad to get ice cream. Across the road from Eddie's was a small ice cream place called Casey's. All the ice cream was homemade. To say it was delicious is an absolute understatement. I got Cinnamon Bun. There was large chunks of an actual cinnamon bun in it. Everyone else said they loved it too. Lunch was exquisite.


Yesterday we went upstream on Woodcock Creek to meet up with Jay Gerber of the PA Department of Environmental Protection. He showed us how to electroshock fish. He would lead the pack with all of us
following with nets.
As Jay went fish would be stunned and we would scoop em up. we ended up with 13 different species including but not limited to: yellow bullhead, several species of darters, mottled sculpins, and creek chubs.

The Spillway in Pymatuning National Park

      In the small town of Linesville is a must see attraction, The Spillway in Pymatuning National Park!  In the Spillover, there is a variety of wildlife for people to see, including Mallard Ducks, Canadian Geese, and an abundance of Carp.  At one particular spot in the Spillover, the water pours into a small pool that lets out in the other end of the Pymatuning lake.  In this larger pool, there are many carp, and out of the pool as well. Many visitors even bring whole bags of bread to feed the Carp, Ducks, and Geese, which honestly is not the best idea, but it is a lot of fun!  If ever in the town of Linesvilles, make sure to stop at the Spillway, you will not be disappointed!    

Carr-den Garden

This morning, we braved the rain to visit a garden on Allegheny College's campus.  This garden, located out of Carr Hall and called the Carr-den, grows vegetables, fruits, and herbs that make their way to the dining halls.

First, we were inside Carr Hall for a quick lesson on why they grow their own food and the plants themselves.  We learned about the plant families and companion planting.  It was pretty surprising to learn that broccoli and kale are in the same family!  We also tried to identify seeds with limited success - we were able to identify the peppers and peas, but the lettuce and broccoli were much more difficult.

Then we went outside.  We were able to see the entire garden of fruit, vegetables, and herbs.  The garden is located on a hill, so they use raised beds to decrease the water runoff.  After all, all of the water makes its way into French Creek.  Everything grown in the garden is organic.  A special compost is created on campus, creating a unique cycle.  The produce from the garden is taken to the dining halls.  Then the excess is thrown into the compost bins around the halls and added to the compost, which is put on the soil to help the plants grow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Owl hike with Professor Mumme

    Last night the Creek Campers joined Allegheny professor, Ron Mumme, on owlsome owl sightings.We started out by walking around campus to see if we could sight some screech owls.  Which we did see and got some great pictures taken by fellow camper Garret. The owls would flee back and forth between the trees and the college buildings. In total we saw five screech owls who were short and fluffy little creatures with wide eyes. After being on campus we then drove to Greendale cemetery to try and locate the Bard owl, unfortunately the Bard owl did not appear and instead everyone was concentrated on the grave yard's spirits.

Meranda crotsley visiting

Today Meranda Crotsley came by and talked about the coal mines in Pennsylvania. She brought a lot of cool items that people that worked in the mines used. We learned about how going in the mines is really bad and how you may die when your in it. She also thought us that over time water finds its way down the mines and getting into the bedrock and causing it to break down the iron. Water can always find a way out and when it move out it can causes a lot of  iron to settle in the water making it hard to with stain life.

Stream Tables- Hannah

Yesterday afternoon us creek campers went to the Alden building to see a model of how a stream changes over time. Sam talked about why these changes in the river occur and what causes them. Camille talked to us about the Geology of the river, and she told us lots of cool facts about rocks. At the end of the presentation we got to play in the water and sand!


Macro invertebrates and Water Chemistry

Today we went upstream in the Wood Cock dam area. 
Temperature: 20*C
PH: 7.1
Total dissolved solids: 120
Turbidity: 20
Dissolved Oxygen: 13.5
Alkalinity: 126.5
Nitrogen: 0.5
Phosphorus: 0
Pollution Toleration Index: 36.4 (Which is Fair)
Number of Taxa: 9

We found different macro invertebrates than yesterday. We found 3 Water Penny larvae. That's really exciting because the Water Penny Larvae show good signs good water quality.We also 3 Crayfish. We didn't find any yesterday downstream. So it was pretty nifty. 

There was a less abundance of different species. We found 9 different species compared to the 16 from yesterday. The 9 species we found show signs of good water quality because they are sensitive to pollution.
Emily and Mimi

Monday, June 23, 2014

Research Project and Macro ID

A far cry from this morning's in-the-field stream testing, we spent the evening testing two methods of insect identification.  The first method was the traditional dichotomous key, with paragraphs of field marks and characteristics of each macroinvertebrate we attempted to identify.  We managed to stumble through three identifications, but we struggled with the terminology and the lack of clear pictures.

Then we were introduced to the other method.  This method was a new, interactive website created by Carnegie Museum of Natural History.  This website had great photos and a lot of information that was very easy to navigate through.  Using this new website, we identified three macroinvertebrates accurately and quickly.

Identification Website

At the end, we had a discussion on which source we preferred, as well as the pros and cons of each.  The website was clearly the favorite, but we recognized that the website needs WiFi and a device that has to stay dry - which certainly aren't guaranteed while testing a creek!

water chemistry Hannah and Chris McAfee

this morning we went to downstream Woodcock creek. The main things we looked at were water temperature, pH, total dissolved solids, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, alkalinity, nitrogen, and phosphorus. we took 2 samples of water from the creek and did test on them for each category. We also looked at Pollution Tolerance Index and the Number of Taxa. We tested for these by kick netting. Kick netting is when two people hold each side of a net and another person stands in front of the net to kick up sediment from the bottom of the creek to catch micro organisms. We received good results from the majority of our tests. We got a lot cool looking micro organisms as seen below 


Opening Day!

Today was our first day at camp. Everyone met and got to know each other through some games. At dinner we played a fun game called whip around. The point of the game was to learn a little bit about everyone by asking questions. After dinner we did a geo cache to get to know the campus. we had a ton of fun making the ultimate name by combining all our name tags together. It got to the point where no one could pronounce it. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Are You Ready!?


Time is moving quickly, and Creek Camp is almost here!  Not to worry though, your counsels have an amazing week full of fun.  We have been working hard to make sure that everything is perfect for when you all arrive! Below is a picture of us (Will, Camille, Kaitlynn, Kelcy, Jake, Taiji, and Graham) getting ready for one of your first activities, but we can't tell you exactly what it is yet!  All you need to know is that we are more than excited for the week that we are all going to spend together!  Make sure to rest up, check your packing lists, and get here quick!