Originally Posted September 5, 2023 by the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance: Foth Volunteers Make a Difference Along the Fox River
Fox-Wolf’s Trash Free Waters program partnered with Foth in De Pere to host a day of conservation, education, and team-building at Voyageur Park along the Fox River. Team-building events are a new opportunity offered by the Trash Free Waters program that strengthens employee relations, allow for team member connection outside the office, and makes a real impact by protecting our water resources. The event took place on Wednesday, August 30th, with Foth volunteers meeting at Voyageur Park and learning about Fox-Wolf’s efforts in the basin. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) prevention coordinator, Chris Acy, discussed his work in the watershed, highlighting both nusiance plants and animals in the area, efforts to prevent the spread of invasive species, and different ways volunteers can get involved in this work going forward. The group then traversed to the park’s south side fishing island to identify and properly remove purple loosetrife plants along the banks of the Fox River. Foth volunteers worked in small teams and efficiently removed over 20 purple loosetrife plants!
After a quick snack, the group learned about how chloride from deicing salts end up in the environment, and the impacts to our freshwater ecosystems and area infrastructure. They learned about Fox-Wolf’s partnership with the Izaak Walton League’s Salt Watch program, and were given Salt Watch kits, containers, maps, and instructions for monitoring along the riverbank. Volunteers grabbed their water samples and used the Quantab test strips to get the chloride reading for their respective monitoring locations. The chloride results were all between 1.2 and 1.4 Quantab units, which is 31ppm(mg/L) or less. As expected, the chloride levels were relatively low as it was August and the Fox River is large which results in the dillution of chloride. Five Foth team members signed up to volunteer for the upcoming Salt Watch season.
Next, volunteers learned about the importance of native plants for their benefits of increased water infiltration, erosion prevention, aesthetics, and pollinator food source. With shovels in hand, volunteers made their way to a native planting on the park’s east side to remove nuisance plants, allowing the native plants more room to grow. You can see what a difference they made from the photo below:
Heading back to the park pavilion, Foth volunteers continued with the native plant topic by making seed balls using compost, clay, water, and native seeds. Each volunteer made several seed balls that, once completely dried, can be thrown to easily grow native plants in their desired location. Before lunch, the group played two rounds of “pair-up” where they each had one word taped to their backs and used their communication skills to find their match. For example, the person with “salt” on their back had to figure out their word and find the person with “pepper” on their back, all without talking.
After lunch, the Foth team was divided into pairs for a team-bonding activity called “blind drawing”. In each pair, one teammate was blindfolded and given a pen and a clipboard with blank paper. The non-blindfolded team member was given an image of a skeleton key and had to use their communication skills to describe how to draw the image without saying what the image was. This activity produced a wide variety of drawings and lots of laughter. We discussed what methods of communication resulted in drawings that most closely matched the provided skeleton key image.
Finally, our last event for the day was doing a park cleanup. Spreading out with supplies in hand, the group cleaned up the park and along the Fox River Recreation Trail for over two hours–removing 116 pounds of trash! Specifically, the Foth crew cleaned up 22 bags of trash, 727 cigarette butts, 76 plastic bags, and 38 straws. Additionally, three volunteers won awards for “heaviest haul”, “weirdest item found”, and “largest item found”. The Foth environmental team did an outstanding job of improving the park and protecting our waterways.
If you are interested in learning more about Team-Building events hosted by Trash Free Waters, vist: www.trashfreewaters.org.
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