Pond Keepers

Bringing the wonder of pond life into classrooms

Students all over Ulster and Dutchess counties are becoming Pond Keepers through this innovative program designed to bring nature indoors. Participating classrooms receive a 10-gallon aquarium, stocked with local pond life, that stays in the classroom for two weeks. During that time, teachers and students learn how a variety of creatures are adapted to life in a pond.

The Preserve also provides teacher training prior to the program; two visits from an educator to introduce and wrap up the program; a curriculum packed with activities; a digital camera on loan to create projects that record what students have learned and observed; and a pond habitat poster, creature flash cards, and other resource materials.

Cost: $245 per class

To request a program and/or apply for a scholarship, please fill out an online application here. For further information, contact Christy Belardo, Citizen Science Education Coordinator at cbelardo@mohonkpreserve.org or (845) 255-0919 x1235.

Through observing the amazing creatures that live right here in our own back yards, we gain an understanding of pond habitat and the fascinating world under the water.

The Pond Community

Habitat is a creature’s address: it provides the food, water, shelter, and space needed for survival. A healthy pond provides habitat for a variety of creatures both in and around the pond. All together, these plants and animals make up the pond community-an interdependent ecosystem bursting with life!   

PDF: Pond Community

How do we collect pond creatures?

Collecting creatures from local ponds is always an adventure! We hold a special license from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation that allows us to collect creatures at certain locations. When we arrive at one of our ponds, we always make sure we are equipped with our boots, nets, collecting tubs, and buckets. Then, the fun begins! Our job is to ‘scoop goop’ which means to gently scoop up some of the plants, leaves, and other debris on the edge and bottom of a pond. This is the best habitat to find pond creatures and, if the pond is healthy, we’ll find a nice variety. The creatures we find have a lot to teach us about themselves and the pond ecosystem so we always make sure we treat them with care and respect.

PDF: Collecting Creatures

Meet the Creatures

When we create a pond for the Pond Keepers program, we fill it full of exciting local pond life like insects, tadpoles, snails, crayfish, and an assortment of plankton. We focus mainly on the insects found in ponds and their fascinating adaptations to life in the water. Many of the insects in our ponds, such as dragonflies and damselflies, are in their immature, or nymph stage, and will someday leave the pond as a flying adult. Others, such as the giant water bug, live their entire lives in the pond.

Some of the creatures typically found in a Pond Keepers pond are listed below, we hope you enjoy learning about them!

PDFs: Water Scorpion Creature Feature, Dragonfly Creature Feature, Giant Water Bug Creature Feature