Students pick almost 2,000 pounds of frogbit

News Photo by Jordan Spence Christopher Standen, 10, and Brandon St. John, 11, pick up the invasive plant species frogbit with the help of Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative Coordinator Meaghan Gass, Friday at Duck Park in Alpena.

ALPENA — In one day Alpena students managed to pick 1,181 pounds of frogbit from local watersheds.

The Frogbit Challenge was a collaborative project between the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI), Huron Pines, Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary, Huron Pines AmeriCorps, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Frogbit is an invasive species, said 11-year-old Hinks Elementary student Brandon St. John.

“It’s dangerous to the lakes and it takes over in the water,” he said.

The initiative began in early summer and the goal has been to collect 20,000 pounds of the plant. This was the final phase of the project. The Hinks students focused their efforts on Duck Park. Besser students also gathered the plant at the park as well, and conducted a beach cleanup.

Lincoln Elementary first-graders skimmed the coastline of Rotary Island for the plant and picked up trash along the way lead by teacher Katie Thomson.

NEMIGLSI Coordinator Meaghan Gass said in total they collected 12 pounds of trash.

Hinks teacher Laura Wolosiewicz said this kind of project is a good way to start the school year.

“Nature is important to me and I incorporate it into my classroom any point in the year I can. It’s something I’ll reference all the time. Because our school is set around the woods we have a lot of naturally inclined kids,” she said.

These kinds of lessons help them to become good citizens as well, Wolosiewicz said.

“They are also using iPads from a grant and are creating a video about what they’re doing. They’re using research and facts to make a short film about frogbit. That’s cool to get their hands on technology. It also helps them to learn how to use good teamwork too, which helps to make it a good to start the year,” she added.

Alana Shalhout, 10, said she enjoyed her day out in the water.

“I liked picking it up because it helps the Great Lakes and it’s fun doing it with my friends. It’s fun to get out of the (classroom) seats because it’s a nice day. The only bad part about it is that it’s a little stinky,” Shalhout said.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.