Representative Darrin Camilleri of the 23rd District and Metroparks Director, Amy McMillan, joined high school students as they learned about and performed environmental testing thanks to grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency and a partnership between Metroparks, Central Michigan University and Gibraltar Carlson High School.
As water quality and climate change continue to make headlines and cause concerns for communities, it is important to teach future stewards about environmental testing and citizen scientific research to support promising solutions. Gibraltar Carlson High School sophomores, juniors and seniors worked with Metroparks staff and Central Michigan University experts as they performed hands-on water and environmental research this past October.
Every year Huron-Clinton Metroparks interpretive staff reach thousands of Southeast Michigan students through field trips, educational programs and virtual learning opportunities.
“Creating the environmental stewards of tomorrow is one of the best ways to ensure creative solutions to struggles and issues around our environment both globally and locally here in our communities” says Amy McMillan, Metroparks Director. “We are always looking for new partners and new ways to impact students in positive ways and that’s just one of the reasons we’re so excited about this project”.
Metroparks has partnered with Central Michigan University to provide high school students a unique opportunity at Lake Erie Metropark. Through a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency along with testing kits provided by The American Chemical Society, CMU is conducting an environmental and water quality research project using partners to train and engage students in testing and stewardship efforts. The project is called H2OQ, and the goal is to create a greater understanding of water quality issues within communities and create citizen scientists and future stewards out of students by collecting and analyzing real-life data across the state.
As part of a field trip experience at the Lake Erie Metropark Marshlands Museum on Monday, October 11, Environmental Science students from Gibraltar Carlson High School worked with Metroparks Interpretive Staff and CMU experts to test and document water chemistries from sites within the park. The data students collected went into a Global Information System (GIS) dataset for scientists to have access to – allowing students to see first-hand how they can impact research by becoming citizen scientists themselves. Inputting data into a GIS dataset allows scientists and others to access the same types of information in multiple locations and see recordings over time from different dates.
During the field trip, Representative Darrin Camilleri of the 23rd District and Metroparks Director, Amy McMillan, joined high school students to see the work and hear from students about what they were learning. Students got to interact with the State Representative and teach him about what they were doing, but in between water tests, they also had an opportunity to ask him questions about government and his goals as a State Representative. One student even brought up an issue that was frustrating to her and he used the opportunity to teach the class about how they can interact with local government and suggested who she should send an email to and voice her concerns on the issue. Camilleri used this engaging opportunity to inspire teenagers to pay attention to local government and be involved in the process as they grow into adulthood.
CMU is partnering with 5 organizations across Michigan to complete this project. Each partner pairs with a teacher in their community, and they, along with CMU experts, teach students about water quality issues and engage them in research and stewardship. Those pairs then train an additional 40-60 teachers to use the testing in their own classrooms and communities. Each teacher is provided with a water testing kit and support for classroom data collection, analysis and stewardship action.
Partner organizations include:
- Huron-Clinton Metroparks – Lake Erie Metropark
- Grand Valley Metropolitan Council – Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds
- Chippewa Nature Center
- Flint River Watershed Coalition
- Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative
It’s all made possible by a grant awarded to CMU by the Environmental Protection Agency and testing kits provided by The American Chemical Society.