The Next Generation of Water Stewards

REGION – Got water? Yes, a lot of it. But we need to take care of it so it's a precious resource for generations to come.

Meet the students and teachers of the Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative (GTSI). The end of the 2010-11 school year wrapped up the first year of the GTSI ( The project combines teachers, students and community partners in water-related education across the region. In its inaugural year, the initiative worked with cross-curricular teams of teachers in four schools – Central Grade School, Grand Traverse Academy, West Middle School and West Senior High School.

Students at Central Grade planted a rain garden to help with rainfall and melting snow runoff. A group of Grand Traverse Academy middle and high school students conducted water testing in creeks near their school. Some of their classmates created hydroponic growing systems in which blue gill were bred in tanks and then the fish waste was pumped up to feed the plants.

In addition to student projects, the initiative also offers professional development and online resources for regional water study for all teachers.

The GTSI was launched after the Grand Traverse Conservation District was awarded a $200,000 stewardship grant in 2009 from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. The GTSI is one of only eight regional hubs for the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative in Michigan, which was started in 2007 to help children become caretakers of the environment.

Area schools interested in becoming one of the program's target schools and getting actively involved in learning more about the Grand Traverse watershed should contact Leslie Mertz at, 941.0960 ext 23. BN