A Weekend with GBO

I spent the weekend of June 23 in the lush, green, Chatahoochee National Forest for family fun, education, and youth engagement for GBO Day. The organizers, Get Black Outside (GBO), are a collective of black-led organizations dedicated to bringing outdoor activities to Black audiences. Both participants and organizers had the opportunity to experience snorkeling, macroinvertebrate sampling, and an educational hike along Coopers Creek.

Not including an unpleasant experience at a Disney World exhibit, this was my first time snorkeling. Previously, I wasn’t aware of freshwater snorkeling and was always hesitant to try anything like that in the ocean. However, I quickly grew to love it after acclimating to the chilly water and learning how to breathe with a mask on. When snorkeling in streams and rivers, it’s important to not walk in the water. Doing so stirs up the streambed, making it difficult to see. Therefore, we had to float down the creek, using our hands to slowly walk along the bottom and push ourselves along. We saw a wide variety of fish and even discovered a large gathering that we suspected to be spawning!

The other half of my day was spent doing macroinvertebrate sampling. We collected several macroinvertebrates amidst the dirt and organic matter by kicking up some of the mud at the bottom of the creek, then sweeping a net through the water. The selection pictured above greatly reflects Cooper Creek’s water quality. For example, crayfish (located in the bottom left cell) and stonefly larvae (located in the cell above the crayfish) are intolerant species. This means that the water must be of good quality. Otherwise, those species wouldn’t be able to survive and thrive there.

In conclusion, I met some incredible people, tried some new things and had an overall great time in the forests of Northern Georgia.

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