Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting celebrates traditional foods with Boat to School week

Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Middle School launched their first ever “Boat to School” week with hands-on culinary and fisheries educational activities.

Joseph K. Lumsden Bahweting Anishnabe PSA (JKL) Middle School launched their first ever “Boat to School” week with hands-on culinary and fisheries educational activities.

Tuesday, May 30 sixth graders enjoyed a herring taco cooking lesson and taste test with Michigan State University Extension nutrition educators.

On Wednesday, May 31 the sixth grade had a field trip to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Natural Resource Department (NRD) walleye rearing ponds and hatchery as well as Wilcox Fish House. At the walleye rearing ponds students broke into small groups for hands-on science activities. The classes learned how the ponds are drained and walleye are transported, helped find the average length for a sample of walleye fry collected with nets, viewed plankton under a microscope and learned about other invertebrates collected by NRD staff that share the pond ecosystem. While at Wilcox students watched whitefish processing in action and a few students even got to try filleting for themselves under the mentorship of Sault Tribe members Dan and Ralph Wilcox. They also learned about great lakes predator pray relationships through an educational game lead by Michigan Sea Grant.

Thursday sixth, seventh and eighth graders heard from a fisheries career panel which included speakers from Bay Mills Community College, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc., Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority: Preserving the Resource for Future Generations and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Natural Resources Department and Law Enforcement. The career panel shared:

  • How their different roles connect to fisheries management
  • What education and work experiences made it possible for them to get those jobs
  • Why treaty rights are important to them
  • What natural resources challenges they see for the next generation to address
  • What they love most about their jobs

“This experience has been beyond an eye-opening experience for both staff and students here at JKL. To experience the process of “lake to plate” has really generated an interest and concern for environmental awareness among students. They certainly have a new respect for our community resources and the environmental impact they have on protecting our fisheries and local ecology” said Heather Purple, middle school science teacher at JKL.

“Boat to School” week culminated in celebration of traditional food for all K-8 students with locally caught whitefish served for lunch in the cafeteria. The whitefish tacos were well received with 129 of the taste testers voting “Loved it” after trying the new recipe. Through their Good Health & Wellness in Indian Country grant the Sault Tribe Health Division funded both the purchase of whitefish and created posters to promote whitefish as the ‘harvest of the month’ or featured menu item. Other schools or agencies interested in these posters can contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The school hopes to make this an annual event and build in additional curriculum connections for other grades and subject areas. Special thanks to the school food service team for all their hard work, Sault Tribe Community Health Department’s Good Health & Wellness in Indian Country grant for funding many of the week’s activities, all of the career panel speakers and field trip hosts and the Michigan State University Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program for coordinating the week’s events. 

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