West Michigan Environmental Action Council and Project GREEN will be taking a bus full of urban students on an educational excursion to Lake Michigan as part of an effort to help connect Grand Rapids youth to Michigan’s natural resources on a more personal level.
“To The Lake” will bring an estimated 40 middle school students to PJ Hoffmaster Park in Muskegon on Thursday, August 11. This will be the first trip to Lake Michigan for the vast majority of the students.
“Last year, only 4 in 40 kids in the program had ever seen Lake Michigan in person!” said Rachel Hood, WMEAC Executive Director. “Our community is teaching these kids to plant gardens, appreciate and conserve water and live sustainably. Part of that is developing an appreciation for our state’s natural resources. And to truly appreciate those resources, you have to experience them.”
On the Lake Michigan shore, the students will experience a dune ecosystem tour before enjoying lunch and an afternoon of beach amusement.
Project GREEN is a community service/learning program geared towards middle school students in Grand Rapids. Created through a collaboration of the Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department, the Grand Rapids “Our Community’s Children” initiative, WMEAC, and the Kent MSU Extension, the program is a response to Mayor George Heartwell’s call to “Green the City.”
The three-week program is designed to teach kids about city government, community environmental needs, and of civic engagement. Participants have conducted tree inventories, measured the tree canopy in local neighborhoods, led a recycling campaign, contributed to parks design and upkeep, and taken part in watershed management.
Project GREEN is primarily funded by the Douglas and Maria DeVos Foundation as part of the I Believe, I Become initiative. To The Lake is partially supported from proceeds raised during the Grand River Water Festival and an in-kind donation from Dean Transportation. Fundraising for the event is still underway and donations can be made at wmeac.org.