Our group first went to the lagoon to fish from the docks. Students successfully caught a few small Northern Pike up to 22 inches long, and one even caught a master angler black crappie thanks to the assistance of a few DNR officers. It was a whopping 19 inches even though the minimum master angler length is only 14 inches, and was very close to the state record of 22 inches. Even though it was cold and raining, the students stayed out on the dock fishing for over an hour.
We then went over the Saginaw Valley State University mobile research bus. They first had us travel to various locations along the bay to collect water samples in plastic sampling bottles. Our students then went on the bus to test the water quality by identifying amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus. They learned all about how the algae bloom in the bay is directly affected by the runoff from communities and farms. We also learned that the bay is typically safe to swim, but is unsatisfactory to most because of the muck (which is simply dead plant matter).
Finally, we went on a hike around the park to identify various bird, mammal, tree and fish species. On the hike we were able to learn about duck houses, see a beaver house, identify muskrats swimming in the lagoon, and learn why dead fish on shore are always missing their eyes (birds love them!).
It was an incredible experience that I suggest to anyone who has the time. You will learn a lot about history, ecosystems, and the human influence on nature. We will be going back again next year, and for years to come!
The best part about the day, however, was witnessing Mr. Jurek and JGHS receive the Green School Award for their efforts within the school and community to promote awareness of environmental issues.