Local high school students learning real-life effects of Great Lakes water quality

The Great Lakes region’s abundance of fresh water makes it a special place to live.

That’s one of the reasons local educators are committing chunks of their curriculum to environmental issues, and especially water quality.

It’s certainly the case at Bay-Arenac Community High School where students are currently in the midst of the Cross-Curricular Fisheries Unit, a week-long foray into learning about the importance of fresh water, fisheries, and their place within the Bay region as a whole.

Samantha Lichtenwald, biological and environmental sciences teacher for the high school, is responsible for organizing much of the event. Lichtenwald utilizes both place-based stewardship and project-based learning methodologies in connecting students to the physical world around them.

"There’s a lack of understanding of the importance of our Great Lakes region. Students often struggle to see the connections between course content and real life," Lichtenwald says.

"Living in this area, we need to grow our understanding of the importance of the Great Lakes and how human behavior affects our environment."

Beginning Monday, April 29, students were introduced to the importance of water quality throughout each of their courses, be it science or English class. On Tuesday, the students took a field trip to Bay City State Park, where they received a days-worth of hands-on learning experiences. Wednesday featured a speakers series and Q&A session with the school’s community partners.

Preparation time is scheduled for Thursday, which leads up to the big event on Friday, May 5. It’s then when students are scheduled to showcase what they’ve learned to their parents and teachers at the Culminating Symposium and Monarch Festival.

For Lichtenwald, it’s an opportunity for students to not only connect with the natural world, but the older residents they may not identify with. And vice versa, too.

"No matter who we are, young or old, we all live here," she says.

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