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July 3, 2012

GREEN BAY -- Classes may be out for the summer but a group of teachers from across the state are grabbing test kits and hitting the water as part of the Department of Natural Resources' Lake Michigan Watershed Field Experience course. The course is taught by DNR educators in partnership with local water experts.

W.G. Jackson
More than two dozen educators spent last week in Green Bay learning about Great Lakes water issues, including a day aboard the W.G. Jackson.
WDNR Photo

More than two dozen educators spent last week in Green Bay learning about water issues in the Great Lakes and their Wisconsin tributaries. Nearly every day involved classroom study as well as a field trip.

"The trips give teachers the chance to perform duties like stream monitoring and water quality testing, while learning how to take those experiences back to the classroom to teach children," explained Kim Anderson, DNR natural resources educator. "Teachers receive Project WET and Great Lakes In My World curriculum guides to help them plan lessons around water issues."

Project WET stands for Water Education for Teachers, a national program administered in Wisconsin by DNR educators.

Water samples
Samples were taken from the bottom of Lake Michigan to see what life is living on the lake floor.
WDNR Photo

Michele Hilbert, who teaches in the Milwaukee Public School District said, "I comprehend more deeply how our individual choices and public policies affect our watershed. Because of this course I am better able to guide my fifth graders' understanding."

Most of the teachers taking part have a science background and teach students ages five to 18.

On their first day, the group traveled to Manitowoc and boarded the research vessel W.G. Jackson. Once on board the group collected water samples from both the harbor and out in the lake. They look at water clarity, oxygen levels, and organisms from the lake floor.

Two days later they found themselves in waders in Duck Creek in Brown County, taking water samples in search of life in the creek bed. The creatures they found help determine the health of the watershed.

Creek sampling
Teachers use nets to collect sediment and life from the bottom of Duck Creek.
WDNR Photo

"This hands-on experience really gives these teachers an idea of what it's like for their students doing these projects," Anderson said.

"Activities like this are a great springboard for further questioning and analysis. I have a running list of lessons I plan to incorporate next year," explained Hilbert.

This watershed educational opportunity was made possible thanks to a B-WET grant DNR received from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). DNR was one of 12 groups across the Great Lakes to receive this grant.

While teachers were learning in Green Bay, another group was doing the same in Milwaukee. A third course will take place in Kenosha August 6-10. For more information about the DNR's water education programs, visit the DNR website at and search for "Project WET."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kim Anderson - 608-261-6431; Carrie Morgan - 608-261-6431; or Trish Ossman - 920-662-5122

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 03, 2012

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