Grant funding supports estuarine learningLocal teachers will learn more about the St. Louis River estuary and get help bringing that knowledge to their students through a new grant to the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Local teachers will learn more about the St. Louis River estuary and get help bringing that knowledge to their students through a new grant to the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The $106,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will fund the Rivers 2 Lake education program for teachers at six Northland schools. Deanna Erickson, education coordinator for the Lake Superior NERR, said Rivers 2 Lake will be the core of the reserve’s education efforts.
“We’re hoping to create longer-term relationships with schools so we can help teachers incorporate knowledge about our natural resources and our local economic resources and research into their classrooms,” she said.
The grant enables Erickson and an additional NERR educator to work with teachers at Superior Middle School and Lake Superior Elementary School as well as Carlton High School, Fond du Lac Ojibwe School, South Shore School in Port Wing, Wis., and South Ridge Elementary School in Culver, Minn.
The Rivers 2 Lake program will begin later this summer with teachers spending five days on the St. Louis River, starting at its headwaters in Northeastern Minnesota and moving down to Lake Superior. They’ll gain first-hand knowledge of the river and learn more about its role in the region’s economy and its importance as a natural resource.
Over the next year, the educators from Lake Superior NERR will work with the teachers to help them incorporate knowledge about the watershed into lessons for their students and to create outdoor lessons that can be taught at their own schools. The grant also will pay to transport students to outdoor education sites around the St. Louis River estuary and to provide classroom resources.
In addition to the valuable lessons about the river estuary, the River 2 Lake program offers opportunities to engage students in learning and develop their critical thinking skills through outdoor education, Erickson said.
The NOAA grant could be renewed for two additional years if funding is available.
The Lake Superior NERR was designated by NOAA in 2010 and covers nearly 16,700 acres of marshes, uplands, rivers and Lake Superior shoreline that are part of the St. Louis River estuary in Douglas County. With headquarters on Barkers Island in Superior, the reserve serves as a site to study natural resource management techniques and apply what is learned to problems facing coastal communities. The reserve’s educational programs enable people to experience freshwater estuaries and their unique resources, making it a community asset and a destination for students and visitors.