Kids in the Brandywine

OF COURSE, YOU JUST knew they were going to splash each other — just a little.

Then a lot, because they had clear-bottom buckets they were supposed to use to spy into the waters of the Brandywine Creek to find freshwater mussels. People got wet, sure, but they were having a good time.

The people from the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary just laughed along with them and let them splash. Soon enough, the work began — this is when science and career opportunities get fun. And interesting.

Kurt Cheng, shellfish specialist, explained to the group of about 16 the purpose of the expedition — to see if they could find freshwater mussels. He also explained what those shellfish did and how they are indicators of the river’s health. Soon, they were clambering into waders — though some came prepared with shoes that could get wet. Sari Rothrock, watershed planning specialist, helped with the preparations. At first about a quarter of the group were a little timid about getting into the river. Soon, most were eager to give it a try.

The Brandywine flows into Delaware from Pennsylvania, towards Wilmington, where it empties into the Christina River, and then into the Delaware River. The work they were doing will also help them understand that getting the water clean in the Delaware starts by making sure all the rivers and streams that flow into it are clean, too.

There were two bus-loads of teenagers that splashed around in the Brandywine — the first group is employed by the City of Wilmington in its summer jobs program. The Partnership usually takes interested teenagers for a day or more during the summer to give a glimpse into a jobs universe they might not otherwise know much about: environmental science.

The second group is employed for the summer by the Camden County (NJ) Municipal Utilities Authority.

“We like to help them see some job opportunities, sure,” said Lisa Wool, program director from the Partnership, “but we’re also looking to the future and hoping to get a diverse workforce in the field of environmental science.”

About Meg McGuire

Meg McGuire has been a journalist for 30 years in New York and Connecticut. She started in weekly newspapers and moved to full-time work in dailies 25 years ago. She knows about the tectonic changes in journalism firsthand, having been part of what was euphemistically called a "reduction in force" six years ago. Now she's working to find new ways to "do" the news as an independent online publisher of news about the Delaware River, its watershed and its people.

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