Read me a river

Students dive into an awesome array of skills at RappFLOW’s field day

Thursday, Sept. 22, was a day of discovery and learning down by the riverside in Sperryville, as young people from the county’s schools (public, private and home) “read” the waters and the land to assess the county’s environmental health.

By Daphne Hutchinson

At the annual field day sponsored by RappFLOW (Rappahannock Friends and Lovers of Our Watershed), high schoolers in the morning and sixth graders in the afternoon went from station to station, soaking up resource appreciation and protection.

It was a beautiful outdoor classroom — a setting shown by research to bring increases in knowledge gains and greater understanding of the lessons covered. And the lessons were all aimed at maintaining Rappahannock’s environmental quality into the future.

The kids assessed aquatic life scooped from the Thornton River and graded water samples to measure the stream’s health. They grasped the interplay of simple machines in a fly rod and the interconnection of temperature, turbidity and nutrients in a trout stream. They heard about responsible chemical use and water protection and conservation strategies practiced by a golf course that puts environmental concerns above the bottom line. They learned the benefits of conservation landscaping with native plants that provide the best habitat for native pollinators and wildlife. They went away armed with facts on the importance of riparian buffers and forest cover. Sure, these kids walked around looking down, but they were studying site maps instead of cell phones and scribbling ground cover identification instead of posting emoticons.

Young voices raised in the excitement of learning best show the impact and benefits of RappFLOW’s lesson plan:

“I found something!”

“Cool! Awesome!”

“I’m so fascinated! Please don’t make me leave now!”

To learn the fascinating things you can do to protect and preserve Rappahannock’s water resources, join RappFLOW. For more information on this active conservation group, visit