Wetlands Day celebrates 10 years

World Wetlands Day provides an ideal opportunity to teach our children about the many valuable benefits of wetlands and wetlands stewardship.

Environmental Program true to its mission

BILL STEVENSON
Wyandotte Warrior

Long hailed as one of the premier environmental education events in southeastern Michigan, the 10th annual World Wetlands Day celebration held April 17, 2019 at Carlson High School did not disappoint organizers or those who attended.  More than 1700 students from Shumate Middle School, Carlson High School, and Riverview Seitz Middle School participated in the expo designed to be an engaging and fun way to learn about wetlands and other environmental issues.

Normally celebrated on February 2nd of each year, World Wetlands Day was postponed this year by a double whammy—the federal government shutdown and a lingering polar vortex.  Ironically, the theme for this year’s World Wetlands Day was “Wetlands and Climate Change.”

 Expo organizer and Carlson High School science teacher, Crystal Fowler said, “The event this year was a bit smaller with fewer environmental groups and less students from schools who had problems with the rescheduled date.  We were going to put a hold on the event for a year because of the shutdown, but groups were reaching out to me and hoping we could get something together even if it was smaller.  Everyone felt that World Wetlands Day was important and that it had tremendous impact on the students and general public who attended.” 

Environmental groups who set up learning stations throughout the gymnasium, included the Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy, the Detroit Riverkeeper, the Friends of the Detroit River, Lake Erie Metropark, Pte. Mouillee Sportsmen, the University of Michigan-Dearborn Environmental Interpretative Center, Detroit River International Wildlife Environmental Quality, the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Sturgeon for Tomorrow, Gibraltar Duck Hunters Ltd., and the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation. 

 In addition to the educational displays, active participants were able to get “hands on” experiences with a vast array of artifacts and native American rarities provided by several members of the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation.  Further, students found environmental lessons in “fun” activities such as trying their reel casting skills in a fishing activity with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from Humbug Marsh.  There was also a Wetlands Rumble game similar to Jeopardy where students competed by giving the correct questions to answers about their wetlands knowledge. 

Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge Administrative Assistant, Anna Cook, offered students a creative outlet where they could make and design their own model of fish.  “More and more, it’s important to make that creative connection to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education, by adding the Arts.  STEAM education deepens the learning

and seems to have more lasting impact,” Cook said.  “Kids like it when learning is fun!”

And fun, it is.—educating the next generation of environmentalists.

World Wetlands Day at Carlson High School originated in 2010, when Humbug Marsh was designated Michigan’s first and only Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention of 1971.  The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty, signed by 170 nations throughout the world that provides for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. 

The late Congressman John D. Dingell, recognized the first World Wetlands Day, saying, “World Wetlands Day provides an ideal opportunity to teach our children about the many valuable benefits of wetlands and wetlands stewardship.  I am proud of the work being done, and excited to see this type of commitment to future generations.”

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