Ecology Project

In 2016, an anonymous member of ELPA has made a generous $1250 donation to sponsor an educational program to foster appreciation for our natural resources. Fourth and fifth grade students from Charleston Elementary School Students participated in a hands-on ecological program run by Siskin Ecological Adventure during the 2016-2017 school year. Siskin Ecological Adventures is a division of the Coutts-Moriarty Camp, a small non-profit educational institute dedicated to educating, challenging and inspiring participants of all ages.

During the project, students were given the opportunity to learn, explore, and make real life connections with the Echo Lake Ecosystem. Siskin instructors made three 1-hour classroom visits at the school and conducted full-day field trips in the fall, winter and spring. Students learned about plants and animals living in and around the lake, the good and bad effects of native and non-native species on the lake, and the health of the ecosystem and how citizens can help. Students used microscopes to examine the natural organisms in Echo Lake’s water. They learned about R-selected and K-selected species, about how crayfish help keep the water clean, about Eurasian water milfoil, and more.

Classroom visits built the scientific language necessary to utilize outdoor investigations to instill a deep appreciation of both the ecological and economic importance of Echo Lake.  Familiarity with college level “Nerd Words“ — such as “oligotrophic,” “poikilothermic,” “benthic macro invertebrate,” “zone of hypoxia,” and “biomagnification — fostered an increased sense of academic self-confidence among students.

On Tuesday, September 26th, 5th and 6th graders from Charleston Elementary School visited Echo Lake to celebrate the conclusion of the hands-on ecological program. 


This fall’s culminating field trip was devoted to enjoying the lake. Students and instructors launched a flotilla of kayaks and canoes from Jean and Bob Wilson’s shore land property at the north end of the lake and paddled to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Access. They were then bussed to the east side of the lake, where they wrapped up their visit by participating in a “learning chain” (see Kayla’s letter below) and hiking the beautiful shore trail of the Lydia Spitzer Demonstration Forest held by the Vermont Land Trust and managed by the NorthWoods Stewardship Center. The NorthWoods Stewardship Center is a non-profit educational, research and conservation service organization, whose mission is to connect people and place through science, education and action.

Coupled with hands-on investigations, science inspired art, and seasonal trips to Echo Lake itself, the project has instilled a deeper understanding and appreciation of the role Echo Lake plays in Clyde river water system and in the Charleston community.

In Their Own Words

To see what these student stewards have experienced in their own words click the student names below to see their personal letters describing their experience and what they learned. They learned from us — we can all learn from them. Let the learning chain continue.