By Mary hursh
September will be a busy month for Wawasee High School freshmen, area elementary students, adult volunteers and WACF Education Coordinator Pam Schumm.
The Wawasee Watershed Rafting Adventure involving freshmen will launch from the new Between the Lakes Property on Pickwick Drive. The rafting adventure runs from Sept. 4-6 with a Sept. 7 rain date. Ten students, a teacher, and an adult volunteer will be riding together in a large raft to study the lake. This is the third year for the rafting trip.
“On the trip, students will learn about the watershed. Before they go, they will study a field guide to learn about Wawasee, lake changes during the season, and plants and animals they will see on the trip. They will do water tests and much more. They will observe such plants as arrowhead, pickerel weed, water lilies, coontail, duckweed, and creeping water primrose. Students will collect plant samples and put them in individual baggies which may be shown at one of the final games. Some of the wildlife they will see include the green heron, great blue heron, sand hill crane and wood ducks. Muskrats, beavers, frogs, turtles, and snakes may also be visible,” said Schumm.
After putting in at Between the Lakes, students will paddle into Mud Lake where they take their first water samples and collect aquatic plants and algae both native and alien. They take their second samples in the channel between Wawasee and Syracuse lakes. Then they travel into Syracuse Lake to take their final sample.
To learn what is happening in the water, students do tests for dissolved oxygen, nitrate/nitrite, phosphate, pH and temperature.
After taking the rafts out, students play a Trivial Pursuit game and leave by bus to go back to school by 2:45.
“Over 30 volunteers, mostly retired teachers, help run the activities each summer. Without them, we could not offer these wonderful opportunities,” said Schumm.
Elementary students will have a chance to learn about the watershed, nature and water quality by participating in several activities on their own field trip. “We usually have a large group presentation and then follow that with four to six small group activities. The children rotate through each activity. Elementary programs last two hours. Two classrooms run through in the morning per grade level and two run through the program in the afternoon. It takes three days to get through all three schools. We want the children to be good stewards and they can teach their parents.”
The first grade students learn about adaptations. The second grade learns about the birds. The third grade learn about trees. The fourth grade students have a Bug Fest. The sixth grade learns about alien species and limiting factors. The field trips for first and sixth grade usually take place in May.
“Each trip is designed to support several of the state standards for each grade level,” said Schumm.
Schumm is retired from Wawasee High School as a biology, human genetics and physical science teacher. She received her BS in biology and her MS in science education. She was a boys swim coach, a girls volleyball coach, and a cheerleading coach. She was an announcer for swimming for 27 years. She kept the clock for volleyball for 10 years and was a track announcer for 15 years.