Jean Hedren is a Realtor serving Douglas County, Washburn County, Bayfield County, and Sawyer County, Wisconsin. She is also on the board of the Gordon-St. Croix Flowage Association, which organized the event and originally published this report.
Photos courtesy Jean Hedren
Maybe you noticed 18 or so kayaks piled up on the shoreline of the North Shore Resort in late September, or maybe you saw a large group of kids running around the shore or paddling kayaks offshore. On Tuesday, September 29th, 31 4th and 5th grade students from North Star Community Charter School and Solon Springs Schools participated in an educational and recreational day at the Gordon/St. Croix Flowage, offered through the Gordon/St Croix Flowage Association. The goal was to acquaint local students with the valuable and exciting resources right here in their own back yard. Thanks to Brad DeColon for the original idea.
The morning sessions were classroom activities and took place at the Solon Springs Community Center. Students were divided into four groups and rotated among a Watershed Game focusing on healthy lakes (taught by Dave Blumer, GSCFA Lake Consultant and former teacher), a loon informational group activity, (taught by Lorna and Roger Wilson) and water safety instruction (taught by John Kudlas from the Barnes LEEP program, which advocates “No Child Left On Shore”).
At noon, the students were taken by bus (one of which got “lost” temporarily and went to the Gordon Dam) to the North Shore Resort where Brad and Jean Bowe provided an outdoor lunch (compliments of Brad). After passing out life vests to all (Water Safety instruction example) groups were directed to one of two pontoons or to the dock for kayak instruction. The “pontoon classroom” drivers were Brian Olson, also head of the Northwood North Star Community Charter School, and Roger Wilson of the GSCFA; and the instructors were Dave Blumer and John Kudlas. The students had opportunities to learn about water quality. They tried out secchi discs and Oxygen/temperature meters, and how to obtain water samples. They concluded with AIS (aquatic invasive species) identification and netted their own samples to scrutinize and compare to plant keys.
The kayak learning groups were assisted by two of the teachers (Beth Kessler of Solon Springs School and Laura Brasch of Northwood School), Lorna Wilson and Lynn Zimek of the GSCFA, as well as other teachers’ assistants from each of the schools. Many of the students had never been in a kayak, but all were eager for the opportunity, after some on-shore instruction. The weather cooperated with sunshine and no wind, and the kayaking was a successful experience, with only one student having an unscheduled swim in the Flowage.
Many individuals from the schools, and the GSCFA assisted to make this event a success, and we thank all of them. although not all are mentioned. In particular, we thank all of the individuals who brought kayaks to the North Shore for the kids to use. We obviously could not have done this without them. Also Kathleen Wolleat, GSCFA member and photographer, was on hand to capture some real action photos, some of which appear here. And last but not least thanks to Brad DeColon who is so generous in assisting and supporting Flowage Association endeavors.
There are few places in this country where such an opportunity for outdoor learning is available to grade school students, and we were happy to provide this event. It was a day to remember, or maybe do again!