Potential Students Projects:
Billion Bugs Project: The nine-spotted ladybug is a native bug in New York State, which was thought to be extinct. This ladybug was found once again in Long Island, therefore since it is native to New York State, RRS has decided to create a project that would reintroduce the nine spotted ladybug to the Rochester area. “Ladybugs help gardeners and farmers by eating tiny insect pests that damage plants. A ladybug can consume up to 60 aphids per day, and will also eat a variety of other harmful insects and larvae (including scales, mealy bugs, leafhoppers, mites, and other types of soft-bodied insects), as well as pollen and nectar” (New York State insect). This would be a perfect project to engage the students in community gardens across Rochester and also the Rochester River Charter School, restoring a species and its ecosystem.
This project is modeled after the successful Billion Oyster Project at the Harbor School, which was recently awarded $5 million in National Science Foundation funding and is a Clinton Global Initiative “commitment to action.” Similar models of dragonfly release programs exist elsewhere in New York State. (Potential Community Partners: Lost Ladybug Project.)
Genesee River Restoration: (Potential Community Partners: Center for Environmental Initiatives and The Genesee River Wilds, Inc.)
Sturgeon and Salmon Restoration Project: The Rochester River Charter School will partner with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to restore historic fish populations to the Genesee River. The Genesee Sturgeon and the Salmon are native species to the Genesee River and reintroducing them will benefit the health of the ecosystem. This project would involve students in different aspects. Some students would be growing the fish in an aquaculture lab, feeding them and monitoring them. Other students would be involved in the driving of boats, while others will release the fish and monitor the water quality and populations of fish through scuba-diving. This program will be named after Seth Green (1817-1888), the Rochester-born founder of the first fish hatchery in the United States who is buried in Mount Hope Cemetery. He is often referred to as the “Father of fish culture in North America.”
Boat Building/Restoration: Rochester has various sources of water that are neglected by the people either because they are ignorant of what goes on in them or they do not have the opportunity to access them. At the Rochester River Charter School, we will have a course called Marine Technology and another titled Marine Engineering in which students will learn how to build a boat every year and launch them at the end of each year after each student has received the safety boating license. These boats can be donated to different organizations who work in the water with young people. Also these boats can be used for the school’s work and also for community service, by educating other young people and older people about the history of the Genesee River and surrounding water bodies. Also with this type of education students will be able to explain what lives in the river, including extant, extinct, and endangered species. Students will learn various skills, including how to build and drive a boat, and also become educators by telling people about the work they do, what is being done, and what can be done to restore the Genesee River.
Another project is the restoration of boats in Rochester. In Rochester there are people who own boats and there are others who have abandoned their boats. These boats can be part of the RRS community service projects and summer jobs for the students. With the marine engineering and marine technology course, students will have the skills necessary to fix boats and through scuba diving many students can work scrubbing the bottom of the boats to keep them in good shape.
Hydroponics/Gardening: Students will learn how to grow vegetables through hydroponics. These vegetables will be used in their lunch and through aquaponics the fish that grow will be used for the restoration of the Genesee river, not for food. RRS will also have a garden in which the students will grow food, like that they learn both skills: hydroponics and conventional gardening. This will allow students to also get summer jobs in aquaculture labs and gardens across the city. Any fish raised by the school will be released into the Genesee River through a proposed Seth Green Fish Culture program that we hope to establish (see above). (Potential Community Partners: Off the Grid; The Seedfolk Store; Prosper Rochester, Inc.; The Gandhi Institute)
Bike and Build: Around the country there are multiple programs that bike across the country and help poor communities repair their houses. With RRS, we are trying to create a program that will allow students do the same type of work but within the Rochester community. Not only will the students repair homes, but they will also learn how to repair their bikes and in combination with other bike shops we can petition for better bike lanes in the city and also work towards having our own bike shop. This project will involve the students in the community and allows them to be more environmentally friendly and healthier, since they will not be riding cars and at the same time they will exercise.
Rain Barrels for a Sustainable City: The Cornell Cooperative Extension and the Save the Rain campaign in the past have worked in Syracuse to create rain barrels for its communities, in order to avoid the combined sewer system from overflowing after rain storms releasing untreated sewage into its waterways. At the Rochester River Charter School, students would like to create the same type of project in which the students will create the rain barrels and learn how to install them at people’s homes around the community, which will foster a sense of place, a connection to their community, and a new skill for potential jobs after graduation. This project is also essential for the environment because the water collected from these tanks can be utilized for gardens and the collecting of water will help RRS students protect their waterways by avoiding or minimizing the amount of storm water into the Genesee River.