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Hooking Kids on Learning

Above: SEEDS After School fourth-grader Brayden works on his fly-fishing skills prior to the family event at the Marion Mill Pond. The family event was part of a series of activities that taught students about water quality and ecosystems.

Dozens of excited SEEDS After School students from Marion Elementary School and their families gathered for a day of fishing, fun, and learning at the Marion Mill Pond.

In addition to the day of fishing, there were ten fish-themed activity stations including fish jenga, fly fishing for lawn trout, watershed art posters, fish keychains, and more. These activities were part of a series of lessons on fish and watersheds conducted at the SEEDS After School program.

The main goal is to teach students about the importance of watersheds. We are focusing on fish to do that because fishing is an important pastime in the community, and fish are just fun! – Erin Horton, SEEDS After School Site Coordinator at Marion Elementary School

Greg Potter, the Education and Diversity Chairperson of Trout Unlimited, brought a variety of displays and activities to engage children in learning about fish and their habitats including a stream-table to teach about maintaining clean watersheds and a work table for identifying macroinvertebrates in the water. Potter also demonstrated how to make fishing flies, allowing the students to select the tails and hackles. The children then got to use the custommade flies onsite and take them home afterwards.

The presentations and fishing were a big hit with the children! One second grader told Horton that she “really loved the science and learning about the bugs.” For another, it was his first time ever fishing and he loved it.

Above: Fourth-grader Bailey, a SEEDS After School student, identifies macroinvertabrates with the help of Greg Potter of Trout Unlimited.

Students have been learning about water quality testing, ecosystems, water filtration, and more during SEEDS After School sessions. This past winter, students used water testing kits donated by the Izaak Walton League of America Winter Salt Watch program to test sodium levels in the water at the Mill Pond. Each Friday students are sent home with an additional activity to share with family and friends, such as a ‘Beat-the-Barrier’ board game about Lampreys.

“Watershed education is important to SEEDS as part of our focus on offering ecologically rooted STEM learning,” said SEEDS Executive Director Sarna Salzman. “We are proud to have education partners like Trout Unlimited and the Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative among others.” This year, students at Marion will get to finish their school year with a field trip to Inland Seas Educational Association to learn more about macroinvertebrates while sailing on Lake Michigan!

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