CALUMET TOWNSHIP - Spotted knapweed is an invasive species in Michigan, and on one section of Calumet Township Park it's particularly bad, so Washington Middle School seventh-grade students worked diligently Tuesday to dig up as much of the plant as possible.
The students were taking part in the family and community day for teacher Darrell Hendrickson's science class' Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative program. The day was intended to show parents and members of the community the efforts of the class at the park and the school forest across M-203 from the park.
Social studies teacher John Larson, who was supervising the students digging up the spotted knapweed, said the effort wasn't just about the plant.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Washington Middle School seventh-grade students Jade Duquette and Robert Hill measure the circumference of trees in the school’s forest on M-203 across from Calumet Township Park Tuesday during a community day highlighting the efforts of science teacher Darrell Hendrickson’s Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative program at the school.
"We tie science and social studies in terms of community involvement," he said.
Larson estimated the area the students cleared of the knapweed was 1.5 to 2 acres in size. Last fall, the students removed about 86 pounds of the weed from the park.
Taking part in the knapweed removal was Abbie Newman, who said she also took part in efforts at the park earlier in the school year.
"We helped clean up spotted knapweed and did a beach cleanup at the beginning of the year," she said. "I enjoy doing it."
Abbie's mother, Joy Newman, said she was impressed with what the students were doing at the park, and the hands-on experience they got.
"I think it's awesome," she said. "We didn't have this when we grew up."
The beach cleanup produced some interesting items, Joy Newman said.
"I'm always amazed at the number of cigarette butts," she said.
Math teacher Michelle Bosscher, who was supervising the beach cleanup portion of the event, said cigarette butts are always the number one item in terms of quantity picked up each year on the beach.
Bosscher said she's been involved with the efforts at the park for four years, and she thinks it's having a positive effect.
Hendrickson said the community event was the fourth for the LSSI program, with which the school has been involved for six years.
The LSSI is part of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, created by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. It provides grant money to schools in the Great Lakes watershed for environmental and stewardship projects.
Hendrickson was with students and parents in the school's 27-acre forest. Students were measuring tree diameters and estimating lengths.
The parents and community members who attend ask good questions about the program, Hendrickson said.
"I think most parents are curious," he said.
More people took part in the community day event this year than last year, Hendrickson said.
"I'm hoping it's gaining popularity," he said. "(Attendance) definitely went up this year."