Wednesday morning I met with a wonderful group of people with diverse backgrounds for planning a collaborative effort to bring our local communities together in a citizen science project focused on the Hoffman Forest public areas of the White Oak River. Jessica Hult of the White Oak Region Izaak Walton League and her son, homeschooler and Boy Scout, Luke, Kris Fowler of North Carolina State University, Fred Cubbage of the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University, and our new board member Dr. Pat Curley, Director of The Science House at the Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST), North Carolina State University, and myself all met to combine our efforts in developing a plan for wildlife camera traps to monitor for species in the Hoffman Forest and determine water sampling plans for our local homeschooled children and Boy Scouts.
The goal of our citizen science project is to create STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) opportunities to groups that would otherwise have limited access to these types of educational programs, and connect our local citizens with their natural systems that provide so much.
The Hoffman Forest houses the headwaters for the Trent, White Oak, and New Rivers and serves as a natural filtration system, pulling pollutants out of storm water before it enters the rivers. Given the burdens the White Oak River already faces with overloading of storm water creating abundant bacteria loads to the point of shellfishing closures, it is of utmost importance to understand the key functions of our natural systems and their interdependence. That public education is where I come in.
Nicole L. Triplett, White Oak-New Riverkeeper