Education and Outreach

By: Nancy Burmeister
Secretary, MRWA

During the month of May, the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly education committee taught 576 third graders important lessons. These children learned about watersheds and why we need to protect and respect our Muskegon River and its watershed. They learned about salmon and butterfly migrations. They scooped macroinvertebrates out of the water and studied them. They planted trees. They talked about pollution and what they can do about it.
At Big Rapids NorthEnd Park, they watched the Muskegon River flow by and discussed its flow from Higgins Lake to Lake Muskegon and then Lake Michigan.
At Cranhill Ranch, they examined “bugs” scooped out of a pond and were amazed at what leeches can do!

At Twin Lake, they discovered a virtual tadpole nursery where they set the nets aside and just scooped up tadpoles by the handful.
Now and then, nature decides to offer a special learning experience, and we were treated to one of those at Twin Lake. Our study tray had a number of “finds” in it as we continued to travel back and forth from lake to picnic table. We noticed that one of the dragonfly nymphs had climbed on top of a large gilled snail and sat perched atop it for quite a long time. As new groups arrived, they asked about that little dragonfly nymph, and we discussed her. Over a period of two hours, we watched as the nymph went through metamorphosis and became a dragonfly, spreading her wings and flying away. Many of us missed her first flight, but we were not disappointed! She left behind her exoskeleton so that we could study that under our magnifying glasses.

We work hard to protect and preserve our watershed but teaching children to do so is quite easy. As they learn about this river and all of its wonders, they grow to love it. When we love something, we take care of it. This month, each of those children came away with something to share. They will help to protect, preserve, and RESPECT the Muskegon River Watershed because of memories like that dragonfly!

Already looking forward to next spring!