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Regional teachers learn from the watershed

Tom Howes from the Fond du Lac Resource Management program gives teachers a close up look at flowering wild rice during the Rivers2Lake Summer Institute. Submitted

Beginning today, 12 regional teachers and two instructional coaches from the Superior School District will travel gravel roads in the upper watershed of the St. Louis River as participants in the Rivers2Lake Education Program.

Over four days, they will experience the Lake Superior Watershed through field research and collaboration with scientists and other experts who study ecological issues. Working with staff at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Superior Rivers Watershed Association in Ashland, Wis., they will gain skills in outdoor education and Great Lakes science to take back to their classrooms.

Teachers from Bayfield, Maple, Port Wing, and Superior, along with teachers from Cloquet and Duluth, Minnesota, are participating in the Rivers2Lake Summer Institute from July 31-August 3, and will be traveling the watershed from Toivola, Minn., to Port Wing, Wis.

Following the Institute, Deanna Erickson, education coordinator, and Ryan Feldbrugge, education mentor, both with the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, and Dr. Melissa Kjelvik with the Superior Rivers Watershed Association, collaborate with the teachers each month to bring Lake Superior learning into their classrooms for the duration of the 2018-2019 school year.

Rivers2Lake integrates the Lake Superior watershed into education as a foundation for engaging place-based learning, Great Lakes literacy, stewardship and watershed restoration. The program helps to network teachers with biologists, research managers, tribal agencies, environmental educators and historians in an effort to bring real-world place-based learning to students. The program funded through grants from the NOAA Bay Watershed Education Training Program and Wisconsin Sea Grant.

The Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, based at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and jointly operated by UW Extension and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is a federal reserve encompassing over 16,000 acres along the St. Louis River freshwater estuary.