This week the Education Department has shifted gears out of the field and woods and into the lakes and streams that the Great Lakes state is known for. It has been a week of water festivals to remind people about how precious the resource we have is and educate them about what makes Michigan so unique. Our team visited both Oakland University and Macomb Community College to share information about Michigan and its waters with elementary students on a field trip.
At the Lake St. Clair Water Festival hosted at Macomb Community College, Tyler and Ann Diepenhorst (our new Assistant Camp Director) talked about Michigan mammals. They focused on how each mammal interacts with water in their habitat. Whether it is clean water to drink, water to clean themselves with, a means of transportation or safety water is vital for the mammals in our state, including humans. Over the course of six hours, our two educators interacted with more than 250 kids. They gave seven mammal presentations throughout the day. The primary age group was fifth-grade students in the afternoon and fourth-grade students in morning.
On Friday, I joined Tyler and Ann for some field time. We visited Oakland University for the Clinton River Water Festival. This festival was a similar format working with upper elementary students in classroom-sized groups of 25-30 students. This time Ann ran point on the mammal presentation and Tyler contributed a skulls presentation. My portion was teaching the students about the importance of wetland habitat and of course the waterfowl that live in the wetlands. This event is just as big and we worked with nearly 500 students as we worked in two different areas of the campus.
Other outreach booths that were presenting included, drain commissioners, conservation districts, waste management, osprey banding and the Cranbrook Institute of Science. All with a focus on connecting kids to the outdoors and highlighting local waterways in the Metro Detroit area.
Both of these events were great ways to expose students to the importance of water in our state. It was a long day for the kids and presenters. However, all of the groups agreed it was a nice break from the standardized testing they have all been taking over the last few weeks. The kids wrapped up the days with plenty of sunshine and had many smiles to take back on the bus ride home with them.