Coulee Region Chapter hosts a memorable STREAM Girls Day

On Saturday, August 21, girls from across Southern Wisconsin came together at the West Fork of the Kickapoo River to learn about one of their home waters. Nine girls participated in the event, which was led by volunteers from the Coulee Region TU Chapter.


The West Fork Sports Club dried out from a recent flood just in time to host the event. STREAM Girls is a program with Wisconsin roots – our own Heidi Oberstadt developed and organized the very first program years ago in Stevens Point.


STREAM Girls is Trout Unlimited’s watershed STEM program for girls that builds confidence and breaks down barriers in science and the outdoors. Through the eyes of a scientist, artist and angler, girls make a personal connection to their home waters.


STREAM Girls is a partnership between TU and Girl Scouts USA. Typically held as a multi-day event, volunteers were able to condense the basic requirements of completing the program, and earning the STREAM Girls Patch, into one day.


The program was put together and led by Shannon Quie (see interview, page __) with assistance from Rebecca Rand. Coulee Region TU leaders Fred Spademan, Jason Freund, and Cameron Quie provided volunteer support.


After a brief meet and greet, the girls broke into two groups and headed out with Shannon and Rebecca on a Streamwalk. The girls made observations about the stream and its surroundings. The girls also learned to identify riffles, runs, and pools.


The girls came back together and discussed what they had seen and then had some time to record their reflections and observations into their field notebook.


Next on the schedule was a fly casting demonstration and practice session. Rods were rigged up and hula hoop targets were set in the lawn. For safety, they just used a piece of yarn at the end of the leaders.


An activity called Go with the Flow followed.  The girls went back to the river and took measurements of its width and depth at certain locations. A bobber race ensued and the girls timed how long it took to travel 30 feet on the left side, right side, and middle of the river.


Volunteers then helped the girls use their measurements to calculate the flow in cubic feet per second!


By this time the sun had poked out and the August heat started to set in.  Time to head back to the water – with kick nets, ice cube trays, magnifying glasses, and macroinvertebrate charts.


Professor Jason Freund showed the girls how to use a kick net to sample the aquatic insects in a riffle. The girls found lots of caddis larvae, a few nymphs, and a bunch of crayfish.  The largest was given the nickname “Big Jimmy”.


The last kick net survey surprised everyone – they managed to catch a brook lamprey! The girls learned that these lamprey are actually fish and that they don’t pose a threat to the other fish in the river since they eat mostly dead and decaying material in the stream.


After identifying some of the creatures living in the river, the girls headed back to the shelter and did some fly tying. Cameron Quie led the girls through the steps of tying the woolly bugger, which when wet, looks like the crayfish they were catching in the river.


Next, the girls went on a scavenger hunt looking for the nine ingredients of a healthy stream – water, riffles, rocks, trees, wood, short plants, sky, animals, and bugs.


The last activity involved making a bracelet with beads that represented each of the nine ingredients from the scavenger hunt. The bracelets were made with recycled fly line.


At the end of the day, the girls had time to share some of the things they had learned and what their favorite part of the event was.


These STREAM Girls all had a great time exploring the watershed together. Thanks to the Parents and Girl Scout Leaders for supporting and encouraging their STREAM Girls. And thank you to the Coulee Region TU Volunteers for your efforts in making this event memorable for all involved.


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