Lincoln Ele. class receives donation from Rotary Club

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Tina DenBleyker’s third grade class with the Rotary Club of Alpena at Lincoln Elementary on Monday. The class received a $280 check from the Rotary Club for helping in different cleanup projects at Rotary Island.

ALPENA — One class at Lincoln Elementary received a $280 check from the Rotary Club of Alpena on Monday for the different activities that the class has participated in at Rotary Island.

Tina DenBleyker’s third grade class received the check from the Rotary Club for helping cleanup on the island and also doing research while at Rotary Island.

Bob Lang, President of the Rotary Club, said the class once picked up between eight and 22 pounds of trash at the island and the Rotary Club appreciates the help from the club.

“The children have helped out a lot,” Lang said. “It’s a place where the community can come and enjoy what’s there.”

Rotary Club President-elect Bob Barringar said when talking to the students, they told him that they usually go to the island outside of school to participate in different activities.

“People can bring their kids to the island and have fun,” Barringar said. “This is a positive thing that the kids are doing.”

The gift was an unexpected one to the class because DenBleyker’s classes have been helping at Rotary Island for three years. DenBleyker said the focus is Place Based Stewardship Education, which is taking the classroom outside.

“We’re moving outside to local community areas to teach them what I would use a textbook for,” she said.

Some different items that the students learn about are marine debris, studying the effects of pollution, and math when they are graphing.

“It hits all the standards and it’s very intentional, so we’re not just out there doing a field trip collecting debris,” DenBleyker said. “Marine debris is the big piece and the second piece is the science of habitat restoration, so we tie that specifically to monarchs and native planting.”

DenBleyker said during the summertime, she collects monarch caterpillars and then during the school year, her class releases them.

“I teach them the science of monarchs and the lifecycle,” she said. “We also talk about the plants and how everything feeds off from each other and just the whole process.”

DenBleyker said every year gets a little bigger when her class helps out at Rotary Island.

“This gift of $280 will be put into helping our projects so it will be used to provide more plants and to put some modifillment containers out there,” she said. “It might be used for signage too or butterfly houses. It could really be used for many different things.”

The gift will also go toward supplies for marine debris and signs at Rotary Island to educate the community.

“That’s the next step,” DenBleyker said. “You educate the kids, you educate their parents, but you also want the community to be educated and appreciate it too.”

The students in DenBleyker’s class drive the questions and even though she’s the teacher and has standards to follow, her students are excited, writing, and digging deeper.

“They’re going home and they’re coming back with more information that I didn’t even ask them to do, so the excitement is just contagious,” she said.

Right now is quiet time for DenBleyker and her class due to winter, but when spring comes, the class will start again with projects.

“They drive the projects because they live in the community so they use the park, their parents use the park, everybody uses the park,” she said. “What kid wants to learn about this in a textbook when you can take it outside and do it?”

DenBleyker said she’s going to contact the North Eastern Michigan Rehabilitation and Opportunity Center because they build butterfly houses so that’s an outreach to the community that the class can be involved with.

Julie Goldberg can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5688.