A new program is working to make it easier for kindergarten through 12th grade students across the Upper Peninsula to get hands-on experience in environmental education while helping their communities.

It’s called the Upper Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, and it’s being organized by the Superior Watershed Partnership with the help of a recent grant from the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust. The goal of the initiative is to help teachers and community partners create long-term research projects and expand students’ abilities through place-based learning.

“So it’s education where your kids are getting involved in their local communities,” said SWP Program Manager Jennifer Hill. “They’ve found again and again that getting kids outside and giving them real-world relevant projects really gets them excited about learning.”

Core study areas including the STEM fields, social studies, and the arts will be involved in stewardship projects. One such project aims to strengthen the dwindling monarch butterfly population.

“There are many, many fewer butterflies than there have been, and people are very worried,” Hill added, “so, with the help of the National Forest Service and other community partners, we’re raising milkweed that students can then plant in critical habitat areas.”

Educators or students interested in being involved in the initiative are encouraged to call the Superior Watershed Partnership at (906) 228-6095 ext. 15.