SHINGLETON - After its fall programs, Clear Lake Education Center puts away the teaching materials, drains the water system, and closes up the camp for winter. It's not something they look forward to - it's something that has to be done.
But, this year programs won't end with falling leaves and drifting snows, Clear Lake has been able to create a sustainable and inexpensive means for bringing programs to the schools during their previously "shut down" months.
"We've struggled for years, trying to figure out how to continue our programs through winter with a facility that isn't winterized enough to feasibly keep open year round," says director/program manager, Mimi Klotz. The Center is nestled in the Hiawatha National Forest and is operated as a partnership between the Forest, the Delta-Schoolcraft Intermediate School District, and the Marquette Alger Regional Educational Service Agency.
Mimi Klotz, Director/Program Manager for Clear Lake Education Center, teaches “the Physics of Flight” to a group of MId Pen students.
Students investigate snow crystals on black paper in a winter ecology class.
Youth from Escanaba Upper Elementary School hold onto a hula hoop with ropes attached to it as Pam Roll teaches students about the web of life and the balance of ecosystems.
Clear Lake Staff enjoyed visits from schools like JKL Bahweting Anishnabe PSA, Munising Middle, Aspen Ridge Middle, Emerald Elementary, Mid Peninsula, and AuTrain-Onota this fall and looks forward to visiting area schools such as Escanaba, Bark River, Gladstone, and Rapid River Schools as well as others over the winter.
"This means we can keep working with students when before we would have missed out on so many opportunities to share our passion for outdoor and environmental education," says Nick Moreno, instructor for the Center.
Clear Lake understands that with current budgets, not all schools can attend programs at the Center. They feel that the content and messages of the programs are important enough to find a way to continue sharing throughout the year and to those schools that don't get to out to camp.
"Maybe by visiting the schools, we can encourage them to find ways to bring students to Clear Lake," shared Assistant Program Manager, Pam Roll, "and even if we don't see them at camp, students will benefit from these programs at school in so many ways. We bring a very concrete element to the curriculum with our hands-on, experiential lessons in programs such as Ecosystems, Raptors, Fire Ecology,
Wildlife, Physics of Flight, and Watershed Ecology."
The mission of Clear Lake Education Center is to connect people of all ages to the natural world. They achieve this through educational and recreational programs offered at the camp, and now with grant funding from different sources, including the Dagenais and Edward Sackerson Foundations, Hiawatha Interpretive Association, and the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition, they can achieve it throughout the year.