My field work in Southern Trinidad has come to an end. From January 15th-23rd I have conducted my last set of macroinvertebrate sampling for my research. After getting all my sediment samples, I added ethanol to kill off any decomposing bacteria and to preserve any macroinvertebrates. Because these organisms are small and there is a lot of sediment left in the collected samples (even after rinsing them through a net), I had to carefully look through each sample and individually extract all the macroinvertebrates. I spent an average of two hours sifting and observing each of the 6 samples. Between the collection and processing of these samples, macroinvertebrate samples are much more challenging than collecting and processing water samples! I really enjoyed doing it, though. These organisms are incredibly interesting and diverse. As of now, I am currently working on my final research paper. With my maroinvertebrate results, river water analyses, and fecal coliform tests, I have enough information to start drawing conclusions with the help of my mentor, Dr. Monica Palta. I am set out to answer my big question: What is the impact of agriculture on water quality in Southern Trinidad?
This research project has so far has had a major impact on me. The research project itself is trying to figure out how agriculture can affect water quality and stream organisms. Seeing that human activities can affect nature and ecology, is not new to me, but new to many of the local people of Southern Trinidad that live on and use these rivers. As an environmental science major and a person of Trinidadian heritage, completing this research project is just the first step for me in my career goal of developing meaningful solutions to environmental problems that affect undeserved communities of people. The fact that people I know and care about are the ones impacted by the particular environmental problems affecting rivers in Southern Trinidad makes my project of particular importance to me. The feeling of success and fulfillment I receive after completing every experiment is what motivates me to want to wake up every day and continue to do this for a living.