Pine Lake Field Day 2013 - Charlotte Valley Central School students assist Professor Zsuzsanna Balogh-Brunstad and Kyle Benjamin '15 in sampling water quality from Pine Lake.

TAP-US Field Day a Success at Hartwick College’s Pine Lake Campus

June 12, 2013

Hartwick College's Pine Lake Environmental Campus recently hosted a Field Day event full of activities to help attendees to Think, Act, and Protect the Upper Susquehanna (TAP-US) River watershed. On Friday, June 7, about 125 fifth and sixth grade students from Riverside Elementary School, Charlotte Valley Central, and Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton Central School as well as the Oneonta Adult Education program engaged in a number of experiential learning activities designed with a hands-on approach to learning in mind.

The Field Day event was the culmination of a year-long effort to train regional K-12 teachers and students about the Susquehanna River and its connection to the Chesapeake Bay. 

"The focus of TAP-US is to get students and their teachers outside the classroom to learn about their natural environment," said Brian Hagenbuch, director of Hartwick's Pine Lake Institute for Environmental and Sustainability Studies and director of the TAP-US initiative. "As demonstrated by the lesson plans developed by our first cohort of K-12 TAP-US teachers, hands-on learning in the field can be fun and provides a real world context for what is taught in the classroom."

During Friday's Field Day, 13 Hartwick students assisted Hartwick faculty and local school teachers in engaging the visiting schoolchildren in hands-on learning activities. Fifth and sixth grade students sampled Charlotte Creek for aquatic organisms, tested Pine Lake soil and water quality, identified trees and invasive species, visited an archaeological dig, and participated in a scavenger hunt and watershed field games. 

"The Field Day created a valuable opportunity for Hartwick students to teach what they have been learning, as well unforgettable field-based experiences for the children," said Hagenbuch. "It's a chance for local students to gain a first-hand understanding of the importance of of our watersheds and how we can all work to protect them."

Suzanne Johnson, a sixth-grade teacher at Riverside Elementary School, was among the first group of teachers to enroll in the TAP-US training last summer.

"TAP-US made it possible for me to bring my students into the wild as opposed to trying to bring the wild into my classroom," she said. "It's much more motivating for them to have those experiences where they get wet, whether it's rain or walking in streams. Enduring the Mud Lake Bog hike has become a metaphor for being able to 'endure' classroom challenges. For me, this experience has not only helped me to turn my students into much better advocates for a cleaner world, it has helped me, too." 

Funded by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Chesapeake Bay Watershed Education and Training Program (BWET), the TAP-US initiative has received funding for the next year and is currently recruiting teachers to participate in a weeklong teacher development workshop in July.

For more information on the program, visit the TAP-US website at To request more information how to participate in the TAP-US collaborative, contact Hagenbuch at 607-431-4518 or

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
Phone: 607-431-4031