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Students at Duluth Area Learning Center canoe and conduct water quality monitoring on Pokegama River with Rivers2Lake

Students measured the dissolved oxygen in the Pokegama River water. Submitted. Duluth Public Schools

DULUTH, Minn. — This month a group of Duluth Area Learning Center students explored the Pokegama River, a tributary to the St. Louis Estuary within the Superior Municipal Forest. They were accompanied by Rivers2Lake staff and ALC teachers Jamie Bennett, Todd Mickolajak and Phil Thouin, who is enrolled in the Rivers2Lake program.

Students conducted water chemistry analysis and classified aquatic macroinvertebrates to assess indicators of the river’s water quality. They practiced canoeing skills and teamwork as they maneuvered through the winding river.

The ash trees in this forest are threatened by the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that arrived in Superior, WI around 2013. A loss of the ash trees along the river banks could lead to drastic soil erosion and diminished water quality. Students evaluated restorative tree planting sites, and identified white cedar, red maple, and northern hackberry saplings in test plots.

These young naturalists are excited about the prospect of continuing stewardship along this waterway.

The following organizations offered their generous support and efforts to make this field day come to life:

. The Rivers2Lake Program of the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, which integrates the Lake Superior watershed into local education through inquiry and place-based learning, Great Lakes literacy, stewardship, and watershed restoration

. The Duluth Public Schools Office of Education Equity, which advocates for racial and economic integration, increased academic achievement and equitable educational opportunities for all students

. Duluth Area Learning Center staff, who offer students impactful, high-quality educational experiences