One summer morning, Annie and her brother Bradley venture down to a nearby stream to play, but find the water murky and devoid of frogs and minnows. They hear a splashing sound behind them, and are startled to see their neighbor, Ms. Carson, approaching them, wearing rubber boots and carrying a box of test tubes. It turns out Ms. Carson is an aquatic ecologist whose job it is to test the health of local streams. After Annie mentions all the green slime found in the stream, Ms. Carson explains that it is the result of a build up of algae caused by excessive amounts of nutrients flowing into the stream. Ms. Carlson and the kids then gather some water samples in test tubes, to which they add special chemicals that reveal that the water contains excessive amounts of phosphorous and nitrogen. Ms. Carlson explains that these are derived from fertilizer and pesticides that their neighbors have been using to excess. Upon hearing this news, Annie and Bradley begin a special campaign to get their neighbors to reduce the amount of chemicals they use in their lawns and gardens, which results in a healthier stream the following year.
Dr. Colin Polsky is Professor of Geosciences, and Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Polsky specializes in the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. His training and experience at the University of Texas, Penn State, Harvard, Clark, and FAU center on advancing knowledge of U.S. climate vulnerabilities, in both methodological and applied terms. He has published many articles and book chapters, including the 2013 and 2017 National Climate Assessments, and has served on several national scientific review committees. Jane Tucker grew up on the coast of North Carolina, and holds a B.S. and M.S. in Marine Sciences from UNC-Chapel Hill. Now living on the Massachusetts coast, she works at the Marine Biological Laboratory's Ecosystems Center in Woods Hole. She is part of a team of scientists that studies the ecology and biogeochemistry of the marshes, estuaries, and watersheds in the Plum Island Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research program and at other coastal sites. Her dry-land interests include gardening and dressage. Julia Miner is an architect, designer, and artist who has illustrated three books for children: Lighthouse Santa, The Unbreakable Code, and The Shepherd's Song.