Last week, 7th and 8th graders from Skowhegan Area Middle School came to the Maine Lakes Resource Center for a day of water and land activities focused on living lightly in the watershed, as part of a program put on by the Maine Congress of Lake Associations.
Aboard the Melinda Ann, captained by Phil Mulville of the Maine COLA, and the Colby Compass, captained by Becky Forgrave, a junior at Colby College, the students participated in a “lake check-up” of Great Pond to evaluate the health of the lake. They measured clarity, caught and identified plankton, pulled up sediment from the bottom of the lake, and used a remotely controlled submarine to get a look at what the lake looks like to the animals living in it.
On land, Drew Mealor and Emily Arsenault, juniors at Colby College, taught the students about watersheds, shoreline development and buffer strips, to demonstrate how runoff from the land reaches the lake. Bruce Rueger, from the Colby College geology department, led the kids on a virtual tour of the watershed and the hiking trails in the Kennebec Highlands.
This program is continuing for the next two weeks, with more students from Skowhegan and also Messalonskee Middle School. This program gives the local students a chance to see themselves in the watershed and learn that their actions do have an effect on the environment, both positive and negative.
Funding for this program comes from Maine EPSCoR and the National Science Foundation in a grant focused on lake sustainability using the Belgrade Lakes region as a model for understanding the interconnectedness of environmental and human systems. The busses transporting the students were paid for by Colby College’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement.