The fourth annual Trenton River Days brought the river to Trentonians at South Riverwalk Park.
Four years ago, the Mercer County Park Commission teamed up with the Watershed Institute to bring Trentonians and Mercer residents to the South Riverwalk Park so they can learn about the Delaware River.
“We thought it would be a great idea to bring some people together. You know, we got boat rides out in the river, we have canoe rides down here and teaching kids how to get out of the canoe. We want kids to be outside,” said Aaron T Watson, the Executive Director of the Merced County Park Commission
There were booths and tables for people to explore with activities that were fun for the whole family. On the edge of the park above the river guests were out bird watching and learning about the Microorganisms that live in the Delaware River. Tim Brill, Central Jersey Project Manager with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, was head of that table.
“I think it’s important for everyone to understand that we’re all connected, right? The whole ecosystem is part of a dynamic process of sustaining life. And if we don’t take care of it, it won’t be here forever” Brill said. “We have to ensure that we keep a clean environment for all the creatures, including us humans here,”
The goal of the day was to teach kids about the environment they live in and how to care for it. Steve Tuorto, the director of the science and stewardship department at the Watershed Institute, set up a small touch aquarium for children to come by and touch fish.
“I envisioned it as some sort of ecology lesson, you know, but really, it’s about touching a fish,” Tuorto said. “It’s just showing the diversity. There’s how many different species of fish in Delaware. All the fish in that tank was caught right from the Delaware so that people can see the…diversity of life.”
The type that kids were able to hold and feel were called shiners. “The common shiners native to the water also, but they’re an easy one to have, like a kind of a touch tank, you get people to have their first experience with waterways and the fish,” Tuorto said
Eve Mandel, from Bucks County, and her son, Carter, were at the tank. “He was touching the shiners, which is his favorite activity today,” Eve said. Carter added, “They’re slimy and fast!”
Mandel explained it is essential to learn about the waterways to help protect them. “You just need to be aware of the environment and to be mindful to recycle and not litter and do what we can to keep our planet clean,” Mandel said.
Overall, Kate Hode, watershed education fellow, explained that is the most important part of River days. “Our mission is very much water-based. So any activities that connect to water are very important to us…Our primary mission is to keep the water clean, healthy, and safe for everybody, and we are very much focusing on equity within the environmental sphere,” Hode said.