Trail Creek Week: a hands-on Environmental Science event

N-D file photoA group of students from the MCHS Wolves Environmental Restoration Team, along with a wilderness inquiry leader, paddles down Trail Creek in a cleanup effort.

MICHIGAN CITY — Trail Creek Week is a five day, place-based environmental education event hosted by the Trail Creek Watershed Partnership this week. Trail Creek Week takes place on the banks of Trail Creek at Hansen Park.

Participants in the program attend interactive stations facilitated by local professionals from the Michigan City Sanitary District, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Barker Mansion and Civic Center, the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, the National Park Service and many others.

Each year since 2012, Michigan City has played host to the Wilderness Inquiry Canoemobile during Trail Creek Week. This traveling fleet of 24-foot handmade, wooden Voyageur replica canoes provides an opportunity for students to experience Trail Creek from a perspective not often seen.

"Our students love opportunities for hands on, experiential learning," said Barbara Eason-Watkins, superintendent of Michigan City Area Schools. "Trail Creek Week and Canoemobile get them engaged and active, and give them a deeper understanding of how the science and environmental concepts they are learning in the classroom apply to the world around them.”

In preparation for the event, a group of volunteers met the morning of Sept. 19 to clean out some of the log jams in Trail Creek. It was a partnership with the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, the Michigan City Sanitary District and the Michigan City Parks Department. About 1,000 Michigan City Area Schools students are expected to be paddling in giant wooden canoes on Trail Creek.

Environmental Awareness

After assembling in a large group at Hansen Park, students break into stations. These stations cover water quality and assessment methods, Michigan City history and the significance of Trail Creek and Lake Michigan, Water Safety and Great Lakes Fisheries and stream morphology. These topics examine the local ecosystem and instill in students an awareness of the incredible natural resources in their very own back yards. Students will touch native fish, poke invasive sea lamprey, change the shape of a stream to see what happens, learn how to fall out of a kayak safely and wear a beaver fur hat. They will identify small critters and learn about their ability to be used as water quality assessment tools. These experiences and many more await your group at Trail Creek Week.

Confidence

Many students arrive at Hansen Park never having had the experience of being in a boat. They are naturally apprehensive about getting into the canoes and paddling. While many students are nervous, they all arrive back on shore smiling and proud of their accomplishment.

Team Building

Students learn quickly that unless all 9 passengers paddle together, the heavy wooden boat doesn’t move. Upon returning from their paddle, many groups are high-fiving and making up paddle songs. 

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