Monday, September 4, 2023

Episode 663 (9-4-23): A Water-and-Work Quiz for Labor Day

Click to listen to episode (5:03).

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-1-23.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of September 4 and September 11, 2023.

MUSIC – ~22 sec – Lyrics: “Wake up in the morning and get to work; wake up in the morning and get to work.  Got a lot of work to do, gonna go do it, gotta get to it.”

That’s part of “Get to Work,” by the Harrisionburg- and Rockingham County, Va.-based band, The Steel Wheels, from their 2019 album, “Over the Trees.”  It sets the stage for a water-and-work quiz game, honoring Labor Day by exploring some water-related jobs.  In this game, I’ll read 10 short samples of people describing their work connected to water; you’ll have a couple of seconds of river sounds to guess the job, then I’ll tell you the answer.  Let’s get to it!

No. 1.  I manage places where marine or freshwater creatures are grown for food, restoration, or other purposes. [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s an aquaculturist.

No. 2.  I ply big rivers on large, flat vessels full of coal, grains, and other goods.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC] That’s a crew member on a river barge.

No. 3.  I’m a scientist who studies fish.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s an ichthyologist.

No. 4.  I’m a scientist who studies inland waters, both fresh and salty.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s a limnologist. 

No. 5.  I respond to often dangerous emergencies with the aid of trucks, hoses, pumps, and other equipment.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s a firefighter.

No. 6.  I use filters, chemicals, and tests to treat water going from sources to customers.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That a water-supply plant worker.

No. 7.  I use filters, chemicals, and tests to treat used water and send it back to water sources.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s a wastewater-treatment plant worker.

No. 8.  I board huge ships in open waters, then guide the ships safely into port.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s a harbor pilot.

No. 9.  I work to ensure safe, accessible, and effective use of a water-recreation facility.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s a swimming pool manager, lifeguard, or water exercise instructor.

And No. 10.  I use powerful drills to provide access to groundwater.  [RIVER SOUNDS - ~2 SEC]  That’s a water-well contractor.

Other water-related jobs include boat building, farming, public health, managing lakes and dams, managing watersheds, identifying wetlands, and lots more.  As Labor Day comes and goes, here’s a big thank you to people who work to provide, manage, navigate, protect, and teach and learn about our common wealth of water.  

Thanks also to The Steel Wheels for permission to use part of “Get to Work.”  We close with some more music, this time by renowned musician and former Charlottesville, Virginia, resident John McCutcheon.  From his 1998 album “Four Seasons: Autumnsongs,” here’s about 35 seconds of “Labor Day.”

MUSIC – ~36 sec – Lyrics: “Labor Day, Labor Day, September or the first of May.  To all who work this world we say, ‘Happy Labor Day.’”


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The river sounds heard in this episode were recorded by Virginia Water Radio beside the New River at Radford, Va., on October 6, 2013.

“Get to Work,” from the 2019 album, “Over the Trees,” is copyright by The Steel Wheels, used with permission.  More information about The Steel Wheels is available online at  This music was used previously by Virginia Water Radio in Episode 558, 1-4-21.

“Labor Day,” from the 1998 album “Four Seasons: Autumnsongs,” on Rounder Records, is copyright by John McCutcheon/Appalsongs and Si Kahn/Joe Hill Music, used with permission of John McCutcheon.  More information about John McCutcheon is available online at  Thanks to John Plunkett of Appalseed Productions for his help in acquiring permission to use this music.  More information about Appalseed Productions is available online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


(Except as otherwise noted, photographs are by Virginia Water Radio.)

A Virginia Tech worker testing fire-hyrdrant pressure on the university campus in Blacksburg, March 10, 2017.

A well-drilling rig at a Montgomery County, Virginia, residential project, June 20, 2014.

A barge transporting stone on the Ohio River at Huntington, West Virginia, November 6, 2011.

A commercial ship on the Chesapeake Bay as viewed from Kent Island, Maryland, September 22, 2010.


The following information is from U.S. Department of Labor, “History of Labor Day,” online at 

“Before it was a federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual states.  After municipal ordinances were passed in 1885 and 1886, a movement developed to secure state legislation.  New York was the first state to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, on February 21, 1887.  During 1887, four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – passed laws creating a Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania had followed suit.  By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.”


American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, “What is Limnology?”  Online at

Encyclopedia Britannica, “May Day,” by Meg Matthais, online at

Fire Safety USA, “All [Product] Categories,” online at

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Ocean Service, “What is aquaculture?”  Online at this link.

NPR, “Harbor Pilots Reap High Rewards for Dangerous Job,” by Gloria Hillard, March 21, 2012.

NPR, “What is May Day?”  For the most part, the opposite of capitalism,” by Emma Bowman, May 1, 2023.

Tennessee Valley Authority, “Commodities Shipped on the River,” online at

University of New Mexico, “Position Classification Description: Aquatics Manager,” online at

U.S. Department of Labor, “History of Labor Day,” online at

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Learn About Private Water Wells,” online at

Virginia Cooperative Extension/Virginia Household Water Quality Program, “Wellcheck Contractor List,” online at

Karen Zraik, “What is Labor Day?  A History of the Workers’ Holiday,” New York Times, September 4, 2023 (first published in 2018).


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the “Overall Importance of Water” subject category.

Following are links to some other episodes on Labor Day or water-related labor.

Episode 279, 8-24-15 – Oysters, Nitrogen, and the Chesapeake Bay.
Episode 378, 7-24-17
– The Complicated Challenge of Cleaner Water.
Episode 436, 9-3-18 – Labor Day, “Sandy Boys,” and the Big Sandy River.
Episode 578, 5-24-21 – Water Well Construction is an Ancient and Modern Human Practice.
Episode 635, 8-29-22 – A Fishing Focus for Labor Day, Featuring the Northern Neck Chantey Singers


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8 – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.8 – Land and water have roles in watershed systems.
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Earth Science
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.
ES.10 – Oceans are complex, dynamic systems subject to long- and short-term variations.

2023 History and Social Science SOLs

Grade One: Commonwealth of Virginia
1.2 – The student will apply history and social science skills to explain how communities honor local and national traditions and recognize designated Virginia holidays.

Grade Two: United States of America
2.3 – The student will apply history and social science skills to explain how communities honor local and national traditions and recognize designated Virginia holidays.
2.13 – The student will apply history and social science skills to understand basic economic principles by identifying natural resources, human resources, and capital resources.

Grade 6: United States History: 1865 to the Present
USII.3 – The student will apply history and social science skills to understand how industrialization changed life in rural and urban America after the Civil War.
USII.8 – The student will apply history and social science skills to analyze the key changing patterns of society during the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

Grade 7: Civics and Economics
CE.12 – The student will apply history and social science skills to describe the United States economy.
CE.13 – The student will apply history and social science skills to analyze the role of government in the United States economy.

Grade 8: World Geography
WG.2 – The student will apply social science skills to evaluate the significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Grade 11: Virginia and United States History
VUS.10The student will apply history and social science skills to analyze how the nation grew and changed from the end of Reconstruction through the early twentieth century.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.