Watershed Moment for Grand Traverse Academy Students

Grand Traverse Academy, in conjunction with the Grand Traverse Conservation District, has taken on an environmental water quality initiative that exposes middle and high school students to pertinent water issues in the Grand Traverse region.

"It's an opportunity for kids to get excited about a math and science project that has real-world applications," says Kris Galoci, Grand Traverse Academy teacher. Ms. Galoci kick-started the first year of this watershed project, which enabled students to test the water quality of streams in the Mitchell Creek Watershed.

In 2010 and in past years, students have tromped through the muddy swamplands surrounding Grand Traverse Academy to explore and test the water quality and organisms in this marshy area. In order to reconcile the "mud problem" and minimize the impact to the wetland environment, Galoci prompted the students to map out an area for a new boardwalk. In determining the location of the new boardwalk, Grand Traverse Academy students used compass and survey chain to conduct compass traverse surveys.

In the future, students will utilize industry-grade geographical mapping software to for further analysis and characterization of Mitchell Creek watershed – the software also served as a tool in mapping the surrounding watershed. It's an innovative program, and Galoci hopes that next year, more schools will get on board.

In the meantime, the major issue is finding funding for the Grand Traverse Academy boardwalk. The boardwalk will likely be constructed with help from local grants, or, with lumber and elbow grease generously provided by Grand Traverse Academy teachers and parents.

Galoci also plans to get students involved in legislative issues related to this initiative. She wants students to present findings to East Bay township or local legislature. This would enable the students to take part in development proposals and determine how these proposals can impact the watershed. Galoci points out that this is a unique opportunity for students to get involved on a scientific and political level, hoping that it will propel some students into a career related to water or environmental studies. BN

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