The Water Justice Lab (WJL) launched in the midst of the pandemic in June, 2020. This three-year collaboration between Riverkeeper and Media Sanctuary will establish a water quality sampling lab in the NATURE Lab Environmental Education Center. WJL will educate diverse communities about water justice and how to make a difference, develop the advocacy capacity of the North Troy area, and strengthen a network of environmental justice advocates focused on water issues in the Hudson River Watershed.
The first year of Water Justice Lab culminates with a virtual gathering of advocates from Hudson River Watershed communities to strengthen a network of environmental justice advocates including youth, focused on water issues:
WJL Youth Scientist Fellows participate in monthly sessions, including water testing, research, and radio production. Youth Scientist Fellows will develop science and media skills to communicate activities for outreach and education. Youth Scientist Fellows work with co-fellows under the supervision of the WJL Scientist Mentor, as well as interact with staff from Media Sanctuary and Riverkeeper. WJL Crew will:
Note: In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Media Sanctuary staff and youth will not engage directly in water sample processing, except through training and audio storytelling.
Genesis Cooper, a student at Lansingburgh High School, is in advanced math and science programs, and has been a high honors student since elementary school. Genesis is in various school clubs, and works to help other organizations in her community.Working in WJL, Genesis hopes to help her community understand more things about their own home that they don’t really know about, like local economics, environmental racism, and local politics.
Genesis Cooper’s main focus is to help and educate those around her by volunteering her time. She helps run the Justice4Dahmeek organization that was started by her father, Massiah Cooper. They go around the city and hold events to educate the community on police brutality and inequality in America. Genesis has also volunteered her time at The Sanctuary for Independent Media, and has been an Uptown Summer leader for the summers of 2019 and 2020. In 2019, she ran the face painting table at the Spirit of the Suffragettes concert series and community resource fair at Freedom Square. She is thinking about attending Howard University and possibly becoming a teacher. Genesis has interests in many subjects including science and hope to educate the youth on many different topics about the world around them.
Gabby Espada is a ninth grader at Lansingburgh High School. She is in advanced science and top of her math class as well. Gabby enjoys hands-on activities in science, and she’s a very social and outgoing person. She strives for the best and is an extremely determined teen. Gabby likes having her voice heard and making a change. She does as much as possible in school such as: drama club, soccer, volleyball, track and field, basketball, student council, and tutoring. Gabby is a determined teen ready to take on anything that comes her way.
Gabby Espada has been involved in many movements including: Justice for Dahmeek, suicide prevention movements, and Dance for Donations, She’s also worked with kids and animals. Gabby attends the STEP program at R.P.I. and takes architecture and coding there. In Dance for Donations she danced and taught others dances for donations for leukemia. She has experience working with people of all ages.
Shansanique Pollack is currently attending Lansingburgh High School and just graduated 9th grade year with high honors. She is also involved in her school’s advanced programs including advanced science, advanced math, and both Pre AP history and ELA. As a WJL Fellow, Shansanique is excited to deal with science that could also help the community learn more about what’s around them and help educate the community on what it can do to improve.
Throughout her life, Shansanique has always tried to improve the lives around me in any way possible and to help spread useful information. When she’s older Shansanique wants to be able to use her career to help people in any way possible. She’s hoping to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology for college and go into computer science, hopefully using computers in new and exciting ways to change communities and people for the better.
Jared Wesley Singer looks forward to help and learn from others as the Water Justice Lab Scientist Mentor. His education in chemistry was redirected by a love of nature and desire for a sustainable and equitable society: Circa year 2002 at University of Utah, classwork on global resource limitations yanked him off the standard industrial chemistry track towards an environmental/analytical perspective. The climate change dialogue fired up his passion and he set to work on environmental research projects as an undergraduate, including a research fellowship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in 2006. Also while at Utah he forged connections of art, nature, science, and fire in the department of ceramic arts. This led fortuitously to the New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University, where he studied for his Ph.D. in Material Science and continued his art practice in ceramics (2010 to 2013). At RPI since 2013 Jared has honed his analytical science skills, executed practical maintenance of lab facilities, and collaborated with diverse people and projects in Earth Science and Engineering.
Jared Wesley Singer continues a personal art practice, and engages in wilderness adventures and food preservation as a hobby/lifestyle. The opportunity for NATURE lab collaborations binds together his loves of science, art, and nature; meanwhile the opportunity brings new challenges to teach, mentor, and guide youth North Troy.
Riverkeeper’s annual fundraising gala “The Fisherman’s Ball” will be held virtually on Tuesday September 15th from 6-8 pm. There will be awards, live music, and educational discussions about protecting and restoring the Hudson River Watershed. In this segment Jared Wesley Singer (Water Justice Lab Science Mentor) raises awareness for the fundraising effort with stories and quotes on the topic of community science and water justice. For registration information for the Fisherman’s Ball fundraising gala, please visit: “Riverkeeper.org”
Dan Shapley (Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Lab Director) discusses seasonal sampling of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, water quality testing program, and provides an update on their adaptations to COVID-19.
Jared Wesley Singer (WJL Science Mentor) discusses the opening of the WJL program and highlights of the inaugural season.
WJL Youth Science Fellows (Nique, Genni, and Gabby) discuss what water justice means to them.
Ophra Wolfe (of Newburgh Clean Water Project) discusses PFAS pollution in the Newburgh City water supply and effects on the health and well-being of the community. PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are highly toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative chemicals that were released into Newburgh City’s water supply since 1990s, although the toxicity was poorly understood at that time.
Dr. Sasha Wagner (Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Science at RPI) is interviewed by Jared Wesley Singer of the Water Justice Laboratory. Sasha studies dissolved organic matter (DOM) in soils, rivers, and oceans. The dissolved organic matter is an important link between life on land and aquatic ecosystems. To learn more about Sasha Wagner’s work, check out Sasha’s laboratory website at “www.swagnerlab.com”.
Dr. Yanna Liang (Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Environmental and Sustainable Engineering at the University of Albany) discusses PFAS pollution remediation with Jared Wesley Singer of the Water Justice Lab. It’s fortuitous that our interview occured on Friday July 31st 2020, since on the previous day the NYS Department of Health officially established maximum contamination levels (MCLs) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at 10 parts per trillion (ppt), each.
John Lipscomb (Captain of the Riverkeeper Patrol Boat, the “R. Ian Fletcher”) discusses the river patrol and the role of citizens and organizations to protect the environment.
Erin Blanding is a producer and host of “People’s Science”, a HMM series that interviews women of color in STEM fields. In this interview the Youth Science Fellows of the Water Justice Lab (Nique, Genni, Gabby) discuss a range of topics with Erin including her interest in science, the success of the People’s Science series, and impacts for Racial Justice in America.
HMM Producer Erin Blanding speaks with Nature Lab Water Justice Fellows Genesis, Nique, and Gabby, about their roles in fighting for water justice for everyone and everything.