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2021 John Duncan Wilburn Adventure Scholarship Report

Thank you so much for awarding me with the John Duncan Wilburn Adventure Scholarship. I had such an amazing experience this summer! I have attached a couple of images from this summer and a short summary below!

This summer I worked with a Master’s student at JMU with her thesis research. We visited various farms along Smith Creek and a few of its tributaries in Rockingham and Shenandoah counties. Each farm had a different length of stream restoration under the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). In some streams, we were accompanied by cows who had not yet been fenced out, and in others, we had to walk through meters of riparian buffer that had grown over a decade of restoration. In the streams we would collect macroinvertebrates, which are great indicators of stream quality, due to their varying pollution tolerance levels and numerous years spent in the stream. I was also able to learn new indicators of stream quality, such as bank height and angle, and how to measure them. This experience also taught me new ways to measure habitat quality for the macroinvertebrates, like the Wolman Pebble Count and how R can be utilized to calculate canopy coverage. One of my favorite parts of my summer experience was being able to talk to all the farmers about what restoration efforts they had done on their properties. It was so amazing to hear first-hand how much hard work went into each project and how much pride each farmer has in all their restoration work. I am so excited for them to get the results of the study in the upcoming months so they can see how their hard work has paid off! We were also very lucky to have some volunteers from the NRCS and SWCD offices in Harrisonburg. They helped us sample at the farms and we were able to share all of our knowledge about the macroinvertebrates in the stream, while they were able to share their expertise and see firsthand how it pays off. I am really excited to bring everything I have learned this summer, from new data collection techniques to all that I have learned from all the people I have met, into my future endeavors.

Thank you so much again for making it possible for me to have this wonderful experience this summer. I cannot express how grateful I am for this opportunity and all the opportunities that might come from it in the future.

Kathryn Motley

The John Duncan Wilburn Adventure Scholarship is awarded each year to a college or university student to participate in an outdoor or environmental learning program or for other nonprofit outdoor learning institutions. Click here to read more about this memorial scholarship in honor of the life of John Duncan Wilburn.