Rivers2Lake Education Program receives grant, expands program

Rivers2Lake, a mentoring program that helps teachers integrate Lake Superior into classroom instruction, has received a  $75,000 grant from NOAA’s Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education Training Program, with funds provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The funds allow the program, led by the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, to expand along Wisconsin’s South Shore during the 2016-17 school year, in partnership with the Bad River Watershed Association.

Seventeen teachers from schools in Superior, Ashland and Bayfield, as well as Floodwood, the Fond du Lac Reservation of Lake Superior Chippewa, Carlton and Duluth, Minnesota, joined the program this year. The teachers participated in a Summer Institute in August where they explored the watershed with scientists, resource management agencies, and tribal experts, and practiced place-based and outdoor learning techniques.

During the school year, Deanna Erickson, education coordinator at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Ryan Feldbrugge, education mentor at the Reserve, and Dr. Toben LaFrancois at the Bad River Watershed Association, will collaborate with the teachers in Rivers2Lake classrooms bi-monthly.

Rivers2Lake integrates the Lake Superior watershed into education as a foundation for engaging place-based learning, Great Lakes literacy, stewardship and watershed restoration. The NOAA grant allows the program to provide funding for bus transportation, on-water learning experiences in boats or canoes, and funding for classroom resources, with the goal of eliminating barriers to outdoor education in schools.

The program also helps teachers connect with biologists, research managers, tribal agencies, environmental educators and historians in an effort to bring real-world Great Lakes learning to students. Rivers2Lake collaborates with the Great Lakes Aquarium, Fond du Lac Resource Management, Northland College and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, among others.

The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, a research program based at the UW-Superior and jointly operated by UW-Extension and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a federal reserve encompassing over 16,000 acres along the St. Louis River freshwater estuary.


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