PAINESDALE — The students at Jeffers Middle and High Schools in Painesdale have been to the forest at Lake Perrault and the Robert Brown Nature Sanctuary many times before.
But Tuesday they conducted the first BioBlitz they and the Copper Country have ever seen.
BioBlitz sounds like a term for a complex scientific procedure, but really its just shorthand for taking inventory of the natural environment.
In this particular case, the Jeffers students’ adopted school forest.
“It’s a place that the students are familiar with and really enjoy coming to, and so now we’re gonna get to know it that much better.” said Michigan Tech University Director of the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach Joan Chadde.
Usually BioBlitzes take 24 hours of environment monitoring, but these kids don’t have all day.
Fortunately, an experienced team of scientists taken from Michigan Tech, the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences, The Forest Land Group, Keweenaw Land Trust and Copper Country Trout Unlimited were there to help.
For three hours, collecting, monitoring and learning about as many species of local wildlife, invasive plants, and even forest trees as possible was the name of the game.
A Jeffers High School teacher says that any reason to get the students outside and interested in nature is a good one, the more engaging the better.
“Any time we can get students active and engaged is a positive thing. We come up here every year, twice a year as a whole school, and the students seem to love it, they really enjoy being outdoors in nature and unplugged.” said teacher Cindy McCormick.
The excursion’s necessary supplies were funded by a $400 grant from the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition. The Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative also supported the event.
Chadde says this funding, along with the first year data collected by the students may ensure this event happens again, if only to have a second set of data.
“That’s…what will make the data valuable. Once we get the second set of data, we’re gonna have something to compare it too.”
National Geographic Education has more information on BioBlitz’s here.