Iron Mountain Middle School students take part in watershed education project

A unique watershed education program involving Iron Mountain students helped them develop a great appreciation, knowledge and stewardship for water resources.

Students from Iron Mountain Schools participated in a unique learning experience as part of the district’s “Project Based Learning” model initiated the final six weeks of the school year. Approximately 30 seventh and eighth grade students from Harvey Johnson’s class were involved in a watershed education program designed to create increased awareness, knowledge, appreciation and stewardship of our local water resources. The program was coordinated by Michigan State University Extension and myself.

Students were engaged in a number of water resource-related classroom activities throughout the six-week program. These included creating model watersheds, identifying water resources, water quality testing, investigating water conservation methods and recognizing the recreational values of water. The intent was to provide real life scenarios students could relate to, allowing them to make choices about how they treat water resources.

Several field trips were a big part of the learning opportunities associated with this Project Based Learning program. Students were able to tour the Iron Mountain/Kingsford waste water treatment facility to see where water goes after residential and commercial use and how it is treated. Students were also treated to a watershed tour of Dickinson County to help identify how natural and manmade watersheds function. A special field trip was devoted to water quality testing of Antoine Creek at three different locations to evaluate stream quality.

Two separate, all day excursions took place that provided an in-depth view of water as a resource. The first was at Upper Pine Creek. Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) provided personnel to explain fisheries, wildlife and fire management within the Pine Creek watershed basin. Students were able to witness stream shocking, wildlife management and fire protection while connecting the interactions between land and water within a watershed. They were also treated to lunch, which included lessons about healthy food choices.

Students spent another full day at Lake Antoine fishing, learning how to clean fish, making fish print t-shirts and enjoying the recreational value of Lake Antoine. They also enjoyed a hot lunch that included grilled fish! The day included a visit from local DNR conservation officers who addressed regulations and natural resource stewardship, along with a representative from the Lake Antoine Lake Association who talked about citizen involvement in lake protection and put up a wood duck nesting box.

Partners who contributed significant value to this program included Dickinson County Land Conservation, Lake Antoine Lake Association, Iron Mountain/Kingsford Waste Water treatment facility, Michigan DNR, MSU Extension, MJ Electric and property owners John Fornetti and Rick Trepanier.

MSU Extension encourages participation in new experiences that are safe and expose youth to science involvement with 4-H Science: Asking Questions and Discovering Answers.

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