Monthly Archives: March 2013

“Water” You Going to Do?

Hey kids! Where does water come from? If asked, could you explain where the water from your faucet, hose, shower, etc. comes from? Well you are in luck because we are going to share this amazing secret with you!

Let’s start with the water cycle. Water leaves the ocean, streams, rivers, lakes, etc. when the sun warms the surface of the water. The warmth of the sun causes the water to evaporate and become a gas as water vapor. The water vapor then rises into the atmosphere and forms clouds as it cools and condenses. The clouds can only handle so much condensation, so when the clouds become so full of water vapor that they cannot hold any more, they must release all that water. The water falls as liquid or solid precipitation as rain, ice, snow or other forms. The water will then do one of the following things: fall onto or runs into surface water such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, or oceans; infiltrate into groundwater; be absorbed by plants; or evaporate. Plants not only absorb water, but they also release water vapor into the atmosphere through transpiration, the process of water vapor evaporating from the leaves.

Have you ever thought about where YOUR drinking water comes from? We often just turn the faucet and don’t even give it a second thought as the water pours out. All living things need freshwater to survive and that is one of our most important non-renewable resources we have here on this planet. Let’s look at all the water we have in our world and see how much freshwater we have to use as drinking water.


This 5 gallon bucket I’m holding represents ALL the water we have here on Earth! All that water is pretty heavy…

Now let’s separate the salt water in the oceans from the freshwater on the Earth.

The water in the large bucket represents all the salt water (97.5%) and the water in the smaller container represents all the freshwater (2.5%) on Earth.

Now that we have separated those two, let’s talk about where we have freshwater on this planet. It is found in surface water like ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, as well as in the atmosphere, underground, and in animals and plants. There is also freshwater that is inaccessible to us because it is frozen in glaciers and ice caps.

The container on the left represents the amount of freshwater locked in glaciers and polar ice (1.74%). The container on the right represents the amount of freshwater that is not frozen.

The freshwater represented in the container on the right in the above picture represents our drinking water source. However, not all of that water is available to us for human consumption. If we separate groundwater and atmospheric water (0.76%) from what is the Earth’s surface, we are only left with a teaspoon (0.72%).

That teaspoon is the only fresh surface water we have?

We can tap into some of the water represented in the container on the left for our drinking water such as the fresh groundwater, but the rest of it is inaccessible. The water in the teaspoon represents the available surface water we have at our disposal to use as drinking water.

I’m shaking my head at the crazy difference between the amount of salt water on our planet and the amount of fresh water we have for drinking water.

Even though there may seem to be a lot of water on Earth, only a little of that is freshwater that can be used for drinking water. It’s really important that we take care of that water! But how? Here are a few things YOU can do to help protect this precious resource:

– Take shorter showers. The average shower uses 7 gallons per minute. Have a competition with your family to see who can take the shortest shower. The winner gets to choose dinner one night that week!

– Don’t let the faucet run continuously when you brush your teeth. Only turn it on when needed to get your toothbrush wet before and to rinse if off afterwards. Or, fill up a cup before you brush your teeth and only use that water. Wonder how much water you use when you let the faucet run continuously? Find out in the quiz at the end of this post!

Anna saves water when she is brushing her teeth because she doesn’t let the faucet run!

– Use a reusable water bottle like a stainless steel or a Nalgene instead of drinking bottled water. Tap water composition is more closely regulated by the government than bottled water and it costs less to drink your tap water. Also, the bottles are made from plastic that contain unhealthy chemicals and have been linked to various health problems.

The water bottle says it all, don’t you think?

– Get involved! Volunteering in your community is a great way to give back to the environment. This past weekend at the Red Clay Valley Clean Up, over 700 volunteers (myself included!) dedicated their Saturday morning to picking up trash along approximately 44 miles of roadways and streams in the Red Clay Creek Watershed. Interested in getting involved? The Christina River Watershed Clean Up is coming up on April 6th from 8am-12pm. Delaware Nature Society sites Cooch-Dayett Mill and the Dupont Environmental Education Center are located in close proximity to the Christina River and will be participating in the clean up. If you’d like more information or are interested in volunteering check out this link: Also, the Young Friends of the Brandywine Conservancy will be hosting the Annual Brandywine River Clean Up later this month on April 20th from 9am-1pm. If you’d like more information or are interested in volunteering to clean up the banks of the Brandywine, please contact Kathy Freney Smith at 610-388-8315 or


Now I have a challenge for you: find out where your drinking water comes from! Ask your parents and do some investigating to find out where your water comes from.   In Delaware, many public utility or private companies draw their water from groundwater or surface water. Groundwater is extracted from aquifers, areas underground that hold water.  For example, Artesian Water Company provide Delawareans with groundwater as their drinking water supply. Other companies such as United Water draws drinking water for their customers from the White Clay and Red Clay Creeks. These companies treat the water from the time it is extracted from the creeks to the time that it flows out of your faucet, but it’s important that we take care of the streams and minimize water pollution. You may ask “If the companies treat the water, why should I care about keeping it clean?” Even though the water is treated before it comes out of your faucet, the dirtier the water is the harder it is to clean. It is a lot more work and much more expensive to make the water drinkable if the water is polluted.

We can do something now to save and protect our water resources. Share these tips with your family and friends! Together, we can make a big difference by making small changes in our lives. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Suess’ The Lorax sums it all up quite nicely: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”



-You will save money drinking your tap water because it only costs $0.0015 per gallon whereas bottled water costs $1.27 per gallon.

– 1.5 million tons of plastic go into manufacturing plastic water bottles.

– Less than 1% of the Earth’s water is potable.


See if you can guess some more fun facts about water, take the quiz below!

Your Score:  

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Get Unplugged!

Hey kids! How much time do you spend outside each week? According to a recent study, the average child spends 54 hours in front of screen per week – that’s more than two full days! Our life is so tuned into technology, but the Delaware Nature Society wants to challenge you to “Get Unplugged!” by getting outside and having fun in nature. We made it really easy for you by creating a family program for each of the 10 activities listed on the Delaware Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. What’s that you ask? Keep reading to find out, and don’t forget to check out the awesome family programs at the bottom of this blog!

Delaware Governor Markell wants to see kids outside too! Governor Markell and other adults like him care so much about kids having a positive outdoor experience that they have launched an initiative called Children in Nature. This program is made up of a number of task force groups and committees who promote kids’ development, healthy lifestyles, and academic achievement through spending time outside. They created the Delaware Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights to help achieve these goals. This Outdoor Bill of Rights is a list of activities created to get kids outside and have fun in nature, and it’s a pretty awesome list if I say so myself.

Anna, Christy, and I took a look at the list of activities in the Outdoor Bill of Rights and decided to see if we have accomplished everything on it between the three of us. (Just because it’s technically for kids, doesn’t mean we can’t try to complete this list as well!) In this post and another to come, we will share some gems from our past and recent outdoorsy adventures with you. Check it out!


Go Outside and Play! Grab a friend and go for a walk through a field or a forest and see what you can find. Tracks? Holes? Nests? Scat? Wildlife? The possibilities are endless. Since I started working for the Delaware Nature Society and living at Ashland Nature Center (just one of the perks being an intern!), I’ve hiked each of the trails here many times. I love that no matter how many times you can hike a trail, you never see the exact same things twice!

Taking a walk with a friend is the best way to spend an afternoon!

Another fun thing to do outside is spend some time watching the clouds float by. Find an open spot in your backyard and lay on your back in the grass. Count the clouds or see if the clouds are making any cool shapes! Anna loves searching for fun shapes in the clouds.

On a nice day at Ashland, Anna likes to watch the rolling clouds.


Catch a Fish. Grab a net or a fishing pole and see how many fish you can catch. I’ve caught fish before just using a stick and some fishing line! Each summer, the Delaware Nature Society offers a number of different fishing camps. Each year, the interns on that trip must participate in a special tradition – they must kiss the fish they catch! Both Christy and Anna have upheld this tradition, check out these silly pictures!

Maybe Christy was hoping it would turn into a prince?                        Anna REALLY loves fish.                             Photos by Derek Stoner.


Camp Under the Stars. If you’re feeling adventurous, grab a tent and spend the night outside. Never been camping before? Start simple by setting your tent up in your backyard! Spend some time looking at the beautiful night sky, see if you can find any constellations or count the stars that are out that night. Catch fireflies and make some s’mores. Lay in your sleeping bag and listen to the sounds of the night and see if they sound different from what you may hear during the day. Did you know that you can determine the approximate air temperature outside by the number of times the katydid says its name? Count how many times the katydid says its name in 15 seconds and then add 40 to that number – you should get the approximate air temperature.

Christy camped under the big western sky in Guadalupe State Park in Texas. Photo by Nate Maier.

After you’ve become a seasoned camper and feeling super adventurous, you can strap everything you need to survive to your back and go backpacking! I was backpacking for a weekend on the Appalachian Trail in northern New Jersey when this picture was taken. It was too goofy not to share with you.

I’m rockin’ the headlamp look on the Appalachian Trail, don’t you agree?


Climb a Tree. This is one of my favorite activities! I love scrambling up the twisty branches and checking out the view. It’s amazing how much more of the forest you can see just a few feet above the ground. Sometimes on a hike, it’s more fun to just “hang around” in the trees…

Christy is a monkey hanging around at Middle Run! Photo by Derek Stoner.

Trees are not only great for climbing, but also for jumping in their fallen leaves! A favorite fall time tradition of Anna’s is to gather a big pile of leaves and jump on in. Let’s be real, you can’t simply walk by a big pile of leaves without jumping in, it’s hard to resist!

Anna couldn’t resist jumping into this big piles of leaves at Ashland!


Play in the Waves. I love going to the beach, it’s one of my favorite places. Whenever I would go down the shore as a kid I would spend almost the entire time in the ocean. What am I talking about? I STILL do that now! Anna loves the ocean too. This past summer she played in the Pacific waves another way, she went surfing! She loved the experience, even though she did end up swimming with some Leopard sharks…

Anna and her friend Jill caught some mad waves when they went surfing in California!


Try a New Nature Activity! It’s always fun to try something new! Ever been kayaking? Grab a friend and get on the water!

Nothing but smiles on the reservoir!

Or grab a dive buddy and get in the water and go scuba diving!

Christy dove right in!

Or if you’re not interested in being anywhere near water, try going on a bird walk! Grab some binoculars and a field guide and count how many different kinds of birds you see. Anna enjoys birding because she says there is no other activity where you see such pretty colors in nature.

Anna loves birding!


The Delaware Nature Society has written a program for each number on the Delaware Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. If you complete 7 out of the 10 you’ll get a Nature Family Outdoor Fun Kit. Check out the descriptions of the programs below, they sound awesome!

Saturday, March 23rd 1-4pm – Go Outside and Play! Take a fun nature walk through fields and forests and play nature games as you look for wildlife. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.

Sunday, March 24th 2-4pm – Discover Wildlife in Your Neighborhood. Invite House Wrens and Chickadees to your yard to nest by building a bird box with your family. Help reduce insect populations as you enjoy watching parents busily feed hungry babies. Craft your own bird house using simple tools. (Cost includes materials for one box per family). Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.

Saturday, April 6th 1-4pm – Explore Delaware’s Culture. Take a hike around the historic Cooch-Dayett Mill where the Battle of Cooch’s Bridge was fought in the Revolutionary War. See what lives in the Christina River that flows here. Tour the inside of the old grist mill and see how they used the river to grind flour and other products. Program meets at Cooch-Dayett Mills.

Saturday, April 13th 1-4pm – Play in the Mud. Look for animal tracks and learn how to find signs of animals. Make some tracks of your own in the mud and make a track snack and take-home craft. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.

Saturday, April 27th 4:30pm – Sunday, April 28th 10:30am – Camp Under the Stars. Camp out at the Bucktoe Creek Preserve near Kennett Square, PA. Bring your own tent, use one of ours, or sleep in an Adirondack Shelter (first come-first served). Bring your own dinner, take a night hike, morning walk, and enjoy a campfire. Program meets at Bucktoe Creek Preserve.

Sunday, April 21st 1-3pm – Plant a Seed. Help us plant seeds around the farm, from sunflowers to spinach. Sow the seeds of multiple gardens on the farm, and end with a potting a plant in a pot that  you decorate yourself that you can take home. Program meets at Coverdale Farm Preserve – entrance on Way Road.

Saturday, May 4th 1-4pm – Climb a Tree. Take a walk at Ashland Nature Center to learn about some of the different trees here and collect leaves to “press” so you can keep them in your own tree book (one per child). Climb up onto the “Climbing Sycamore tree of Ashland”. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center. (Hey, I climbed this tree last weekend!)

I climbed the Ashland Sycamore! It’s one of the BEST climbing trees.

Saturday, May 18th 1-4pm – Catch a Fish. Use our fishing poles at the Coverdale Farm Preserve to go fishing in the farm pond. Try to catch bluegills and bass with an expert. Program meets at Coverdale Farm Preserve – entrance on Way Road.

Saturday, June 1st 9am-3pm – Play in the Waves. Family Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Trip. Take a trip to the Delaware Bay to discover horseshoe crabs and the shorebirds that depend on their eggs for food. Hold horseshoe crabs, learn about how they live and their body parts, look at migrant shorebirds through a scope and binoculars. Afterwards, have some beach time to play in the sand and the waves! Meet at Ashland Nature Center – van transportation provided.

Saturday, June 15th 10am-3pm – Try a New Nature Activity. Family Nature Fun Day! Come to Ashland for a day of trying new things in nature. Choose between going on a bird walk, catching insects to identify them, pond dip-netting, and nature photography. We supply all of the equipment. Bring a lunch and have a family picnic at Ashland at noon. Here a story from a professional story-teller at 12:30pm. Program meets at Ashland Nature Center.

Don’t be left inside! Register for the “Get Unplugged!” series at or call us at (302) 239-2334.


Look for part two of the “Get Unplugged” post coming up later this spring, where I will feature the rest of the activities on the Outdoor Bill of Rights!