Return to ECHO Homepage
Below The Surface

Friday, April 24, 2015

Hubble 25th Anniversary

By Jessie Forand/ECHO

Saint Michael's College Associate Professor Physics John O'Meara participated in our Earth Day programming this week, talking about the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Prof. John O'Meara speaks in front of a collection of images from the Hubble Space Telescope. (Jessie Forand/ECHO)
O'Meara expalined that the Hubble is used because, of course, it provides better images since there is no air in space, but also because it can see the ultraviolet and infrared views that others miss.

Hubble has seen six missions and 33 astronauts since April 24, 1990. And when something needs to be fixed, O'Meara said crews' work is difficult, much like paying with Legos while in the dark, wearing mittens, and moving at a rate of about 5 miles per second. Workers practiced in a swimming pool.

Take a look photos from O'Meara's talk, and visit for more information.

Monday, April 20, 2015


As excited as we are for some good muddy fun with the rain that's predicted all week (just in time for our 10th Annual ECHO Earth Weeks MudFest, of course!), let's take a minute and remember the sun, the warmth, the beauty that we saw right from our building just a few days ago:

Photos by ECHO's Jessie Forand 

Share your "sunspiration" photos on our Facebook page, tag us on Instagram, or email Keep 'em coming, it's going to be a soggy few days.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Signs of Spring at ECHO

By Jessie Forand/ECHO 

As much as we love winter in Vermont, we ECHO staffers couldn't be more excited about the arrival of spring! From the now-thawed Lake Champlain to critters in our own backyards, we've been snapping away and enjoying the outside world. 

Elizabeth Nuckols, ECHO's youth education specialist, described hearing the spring peepers for the first time on April 13. She keeps track of their arrival and remembered hearing them on April 2 last year. Guess we weren't the only ones upset about the chilly arrival of spring! 

Take a look at what else we've found: 

Steve Perkins, director of development and communications, found this beauty in his backyard. It's a galanthus - commonly known as the snowdrop. 

Nina Ridhibhinyo, groups program manager, came across this wood frog, one of the first to emerge, while driving on Monkton Road in Charlotte. This serves as a great reminder to drive carefully, as these guys are on the move! 

Steve Smith, director of animal care and facilities management, came across this guy on a morning walk with his dogs. Moving slowly, it was there on Steve's way into the woods and back home, having moved just a few feet in the 42-degree temperatures, which is cold for most amphibians' taste.

Linda Bowden, guest experience liaison, said her sure sign of spring is the arrival of the docks, which are installed each year right outside our building. Jessie Forand, new this year, explored with her camera:

You might have seen this video, too - an ECHO staffer captured a precious moment with her grandson and it has taken our Facebook feed by storm!

Thanks for enjoying the season with us! If you have signs of spring to share, email

USGS Research Project Comes to ECHO

By Jessie Forand/ECHO 

On Wednesday, April 15, John Erbland, Hydrologic Technician with the USGS South Carolina Water Science Center, sat in the springtime sun just outside ECHO’s doors.

For 12 hours, he was perched, participating in a research project underway by a hydrologist at the agency’s Montpelier office.

Data collecting equipment (Carrie Ladd/ECHO)

From Whitehall, New York, to Burlington and Canada, seven points along the lake were simultaneously being used to collect data from USGS Lake Gauge, like the one located outside of ECHO, record real-time water and air temperatures, lake level, and wind speed data for Lake Champlain.

These nifty sensors are constantly sending and receiving data, Erbland said, and every 30 seconds they take an average of the data levels from 10-17 satellites, helping to create a strong triangulation for the most accurate information.

The USGS Lake Gauge at ECHO (Jessie Forand/ECHO)

Erbland said the project will help develop a flow model for all points where gauges are located. For the research, he was to be on-site from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Wednesday then for 6 hours Thursday, to check for redundancies.

Coming new to the sensor thanks to this study is a permanent marker, inserted right into ECHO’s deck, to allow for future tracking, too. All the agency will have to do is set its equipment up at the marker’s site and go!

To learn more about the USGS Lake Gauge visit ECHO or check out the USGS website

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Ice Break-Up

by, Caroline Ladd

(Caroline Ladd/ECHO)

It’s a beautiful day here on Lake Champlain! The sun is out, the temperatures are up, and the ice is GONE! We could not ask for a better view here at ECHO!

If you may have noticed, just yesterday, the lake was still covered by some ICE! Here is a photo of the lake last night at sunset, as you may notice, there is quite a bit of ice still on it! It looks like glass and actually the noise it makes sounds like glass too!

(Caroline Ladd/ECHO)

Have you ever wondered, How does lake ice melt?

When the snow melts off the top of the ice, it leaves the ice exposed to direct sunlight. The ice then acts as a greenhouse for the water, directly reflecting the sun so that the water heats below. All you need is 3 feet of water that is above 35 degrees to melt an inch of ice!

When we get an incredibly windy day like yesterday, the continuous movement of the water breaks up the ice into small pieces. The continuous movement also ensures that the warm water is being rotated towards the top to increase melting.

Once the ice is broken up, the surface area is decreased and therefore the water continues to heat up the ice even quicker than before. This is why in just a matter of a few hours, the lake can go from being frozen to completely open waters, just like it did today!

I think it is fair to say, it FINALLY feels like spring out there! Enjoy the open waters, and don’t forget to make your one drop mission to help keep Lake Champlain beautiful!

Caroline Ladd/ECHO

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We're thinking MUD!

By, Caroline Ladd, ECHO

What’s one necessity for mud season? MUD BOOTS! 

(Jessie Forand/ECHO)

We have taken photos of our own mud boots, but we want yours as well! So submit a picture of yours to instagram and tag us! @echo_vt

(Caroline Ladd/ ECHO)

Going along with the Mud Boots theme, here’s an idea of what to do with those muddy boots! We never want them on the floor, outside, or on a rack because they are FULL of mud, especially here in VT. This cute DIY mud boot mat is an easy way to store those muddy boots this season.
These mud mats take only 3 steps:
  1. Find a tray, roughly the size of a door mat. The trays must have a curled up lip so that the stones don’t fall out! (this tray will work!)
  2. Go to any craft store, outside, or maybe you have stones lying around. You need stone about 1-2 inches in size. (3-4 bags of these will do the trick)
  3. Finally, just poor the stones in the tray and wala! You’ve made a stylish way to store those muddy boots!

What's great about this DIY project is that its easy and CHEAP!

Along with mud boots, our pinterest account has given us awesome ideas that make this mud season, well, bearable! Make sure to follow us on Pinterest if you haven’t already. We have some awesome ideas pinned for MudFest, Earth Weeks, and much, much more!

REMEMBER: MudFest starts Saturday, April 11!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Muddy your senses!

By Caroline Ladd, ECHO

Up here in Vermont, there’s nothing like the MUD that we see during our so called “spring.” Although mud season definitely has its ups and its downs, I think we can all agree, the best part about this season is that MUD IS FUN and we can play with it in a variety of ways. There are a variety of crafts, recipes, and activities that all celebrate MUD!

For a recipe, here’s a dessert that will please all ages! Oreo Dirt Cups are a perfect way to taste mud season! (although this mud and these worms taste a little different!)

Oreo Dirt Cup, Photo by

In the mood for a different MUD dessert? Try making this Mississippi MUD pie! Rich chocolate-y flavors with a decadent oreo crust! YUM! Count us in!

Mississippi Mud Pie, Photo by

Don’t want to taste the MUD? Feel the MUD!
Who doesn’t want to dig for bugs in the MUD? Check out this recipe to make MUD Playdough! This is a pretty clean way to let anyone play with mud INSIDE!

Bugs in the Mud, Photo by

Is it time to learn? Lets do some Muddy Math! Mud is a great way for kids to learn measurements and the different consistencies that result!
1,2,3, GO!

Mud Math, Photo by

Well, that’s a wrap for all the MUDDY treats that we have for you. Have suggestions or MUDDY tricks of your own? Visit our Facebook and Twitter page to let us know!