On the Ground Jr: Middle school students from Mesick Consolidated Schools improve wildlife habitat within the Little Betsie GEMS

Students participated in a pollinator relay race using hula-hoops and ball-pit balls.

On Thursday, May 2, 2024, 41 5th-grade students and 2 faculty from Mesick Consolidated Schools came out to the Little Betsie Grouse Enhanced Management Site (GEMS) in Benzie County as part of MUCC’s On the Ground Junior (OTG Jr.) program. OTG Jr. is a fully funded field trip program for grade school classrooms that works to get students hands-on experience with improving wildlife habitat in their local communities.

Students Completed a Variety of Projects

The kids exited the bus full of energy and excited to spend a school day in the great outdoors! Students rotated through four different stations where they completed activities relating to wildlife and habitat. At one station students planted milkweed seedlings that will provide important resources for the monarch butterfly. At another station, students built brush piles that will provide cover for small mammal species and nesting grounds for gamebirds. For the last two stations, they learned archery skills and participated in pollinator-habitat educational activities such as a pollinator relay race. During archery, students learned the importance of hunting, why we hunt, and how to obtain their hunter’s safety certificate. The pollinator relay race taught students the importance of pollination and how the process works while allowing them to also burn off some energy.

Students pose with a salamander they found while building brush piles.

Students Made a Lasting Impact for Wildlife

In total, students impacted 2 acres of wildlife habitat with this project! Through the OTG Jr. program, these students learned the importance of taking care of our natural resources and how to directly improve wildlife habitat to ensure that the species we know and love today will be around for many years to come.

Are you interested in learning more about the On the Ground Junior program? Visit our website at mucc.org/on-the-ground-junior-linked. We offer a variety of OTG Jr. projects in the spring and fall months. Would you like your classroom to become a part of the OTG Jr. program? Contact our Habitat Program and Partnerships Coordinator Sarah Scheitz at sscheitz@mucc.org for more information.

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