Community and Youth Education
Throughout the year we offer workshops and presentations in the classroom and in the field on various environmental topics. Check our Events Page for programs offered year-round.
Contact our Environmental Manager, Melissa Kivel to learn more about these programs or to request a presentation or field trip for your community, school, or youth group.
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Mission: WET – Watershed Exploration Team
Since 2007, Friends of the St. Clair River has been evaluating streams and rivers around St. Clair County for a variety of biological, physical and chemical parameters. We have perfected the equipment and procedures to make water quality testing easy, fun and reliable for the public, especially students and families. Our Mission: WET discovery kit was created and field-tested by a team of biologists, educators and children to provide everything you need to begin exploring our watershed.
Mission: WET launched summer 2020 by putting kits in the hands of 25 local families. These families have been let loose to explore the diversity of the landscapes, waterways, ecology and life across St. Clair River’s watersheds and report their results back to us. Training is provided in the form of YouTube videos and an online platform to submit questions and share findings.
Our unique backpack kit is designed for naturalists of any age to delve into the fascinating freshwater world of ponds, creeks, rivers and streams. Aquatic habitats are filled with intriguing life and this backpack is designed to help families explore that diversity together. You’ll collect, observe, sort, and identify aquatic insects as a measurement of healthy water. Search for mayflies, dragonflies, caddisflies, water striders, snails, clams and more!
The Mission: WET kit includes a dip net for collecting insects, tools for sorting organisms, a magnifying lens, professionally-produced procedures, macroinvertebrate identification chart, tests for pH, nitrate, phosphate (using safe, easy TesTabs®), reusable data sheets and supplies to perform five chemical tests.
Mission: WET Phase Two is underway to get our kits into school classrooms. The kit complements and enhances classroom curriculum while deepening student’s knowledge of local ecosystems and provides hands-on field experiences. We are working with K-12 educators from school districts around St. Clair County and adjunct instructors at St. Clair County Community College.
Educational objectives of the program include: (1) Expand student awareness of the local environment and their role in the watershed and, (2) Expose students to research techniques used by scientists in the field to assess water quality.
Mission: WET enables students to learn about the importance of aquatic wildlife, to directly contribute to the science of water quality monitoring, and to measure progress on improving and protecting the health of our rivers. Students learn real-life connections between water chemistry, macroinvertebrate communities, and what that means for the overall ecosystem and we obtain real-time data about our rivers and streams.
Great Lakes Floor Map – New!
The Great Lakes Floor Map, a 9’ x 12’ teaching tool, engages learners of all ages about the Great Lakes and understanding watershed concepts. The map is produced by the Center for Science & Environmental Outreach at Michigan Technological University and is printed with the five Great Lakes, the boundaries for two countries, 8 states and 2 provinces.
The Great Lakes influence our lives in many ways---from drinking water, growing food, manufacturing products, and transporting goods. The Great Lakes make up 20% of the world’s freshwater and 95% of the United States’ freshwater. We all need to know and care about the Great Lakes! We are engaging students in learning about the Great Lakes and understanding the watershed concept with the help of the Great Lakes Floor Map. Watch this space for more information as our Education staff creates hands-on, interactive programming for students, families and our community.
This program was made possible due to a Winter 2019 crowd funding initiative. Special thanks to those that gave to support this program!
Amy Meeker-Taylor, Rebecca Gilbert, Robin Ganger, Kara McFadden, Sheri Amstutz Faust, Penelope Peck, Susan Thrasher Meeker, Anna Jamison, Gretchen Hui, Micah Hall, Jeanne Mackay, Mike Howe, Lisa Olszewski Motte, Laura J Funk, Jolene Vettese, Eric Prause, Kate May and Dawn Schweihofer.
Sturgeon Story Contest: Community Edition
Cast Your Vote! Help us catch a keeper
Friends of the St. Clair River’s Sturgeon Story Contest: Community Edition is a virtual, month-long voting competition that uses donations to determine the winner the contest. People are encouraged go online to cast a vote for their favorite Sturgeon Story and help us catch a keeper. The contest is open to anyone of any age in St. Clair County.
Since 2012, we have received nearly 1,000 posters from St. Clair County fifth graders sharing their Lake Sturgeon story through visual art, technical drawings and creative writing. Without wanting to skip a year due to COVID-19, we launched the contest with a twist so families could share their creativity and passion with the community.
Submissions may be Visual Art, like drawings and posters, Technical Drawings, like diagrams, timelines and infographics, or Creative Writing like poetry, short stories and original songs. Submissions may cover lake sturgeon biology, habitat, their connection to Native Americans, history of sturgeon in the Great Lakes, or how to protect fish, prevent pollution and keep water clean.
Finalist’s artwork are displayed at the annual Sturgeon Festival and the public votes for their favorite with pocket change. The entry with the most donations or “votes” is the winner. Winners may see their design appear on Sturgeon Festival swag. The money raised during poster voting, upwards of $400 every year, is used to provide a free Sturgeon Science School field trip for hundreds of area 5th grade students.
Wetlands are full of life. Wander them with us.
Wednesdays in June, July, and August
During this summer outdoor exploration program at the Blue Water River Walk County Park, get your hands in the water to dig for macroinvertebrates --- the important little aquatic bugs like insects, mollusks & crustaceans part of the wetland food chain.
Participants are introduced to wetland ecology, macroinvertebrate collection and identification. Participants will scoop, dig and identify macroinvertebrates living in the wetlands at the park. The wetlands are assigned a water quality score that ranges from excellent to poor depending on the type and number of macroinvertebrates found. Since the wetlands are part of a new urban park, these scores are important for tracking water quality over time.
Wetland Wanderings are once a month in June, July and August from 6 – 7pm. Blue Water River Walk County Park is located at 2200 Military Street in downtown Port Huron. Our program takes place under the park pavilion. These events are free, but registration is required.
Blue Water River Walk Field Trips
The Blue Water River Walk serves as a beautiful riverside habitat that’s a haven for wildlife, plants and people. Once an industrial wasteland, this 1-mile St. Clair River shoreline was transformed in 2014 into an accessible waterfront with a paved trail providing native plants, landscaping and habitat for fish and wildlife. This family-friendly Blue Water River Walk Scavenger Hunt will have you using all your senses to discover how people and wildlife use the Blue Water River Walk.
The Blue Water River Walk Self-Guided Tour was created for older students and adults. Download and print this free resource before your next visit to the Blue Water River Walk. This self-guided tour will provide critical thinking opportunities about the impacts people have had on our landscape over the last 500 years.
Pollution Solutions is a free, hands-on presentation that helps students relate the water cycle and pollution sources to their daily lives. Participants “pollute” a miniature watershed model of St. Clair County and then watch the effects of a homemade rainstorm and discuss water quality problems and solutions. Topics covered include the connection between the health of the environment and our everyday actions.
This program is appropriate for 3rd -12th grade classrooms, Boy and Girl Scout groups, fairs, festivals, and summer recreation programs. This program can be done in-person or virtually.
Sturgeon Science School
Coming soon . . .