Nashville Zoo and the Harpeth Conservancy partnered through Lessons on the Harpeth to bring awareness to the importance of waterways to the Nashville community.
“As a science-based organization, sometimes the science can get in a whirlpool behind the scenes, and it can be hard to communicate everything that we’re doing,” said Molly Warner with the Harpeth Conservancy. “This is a good chance to be able to connect with the public and show them a little bit of what we’re doing behind the scenes and also educate them.”
Lessons on the Harpeth, an event put on by Harpeth River Conservancy, covers a variety of topics related to different animal taxonomy. Members from the community and Nashville ZooTeens got their hands dirty on Saturday, September 8 to explore the Harpeth River.
Throughout the program, people used netting and trays to catch and examine the creatures living in the river, before putting them back in their natural habitat. Attendees were able to determine the water quality based on the different species they found in the water.
Fifteen-year-old Nashville ZooTeen, Maya Evans, jumped at the chance to be a part of this program.
“I really enjoy wildlife and nature,” Evans said. “This is a good way to see how without the indicator species, we can’t know if the ecosystem is thriving.”
Within the first five minutes of being in the river, the group found many crayfish, fish, insects and other macroinvertebrates.
“I think it’s very important to foster an appreciation for your local watershed because they are extremely important,” said Glenn Rohrbach, Nashville Zoo herpetology keeper. “They are the source of some of our drinking water and what people do in their own yards affects the creeks and rivers, which ultimately impacts everyone in the area.”
Nashville Zoo monitors the population of Nashville crayfish, which are only found in Mill Creek in Nashville. Even though the Harpeth River Watershed doesn’t house the endangered Nashville crayfish, it is rich with other natural species that are important to the state and ecology of the river.
“Interest in the natural world is very important, particularly for young people and kids,” Rohrbach said. “The Harpeth River ties so many different people together and that’s one way of looking at how everyone in your community is connected and impacted by the local streams and watershed.”