For the past three years, the Benzie Community Water Council has provided a scholarship to Benzie Central High School alum James Robinson (class of 2015), who is attending the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute at Northwestern Michigan College. He wrote up an update for us, so we can follow his studies: check it out below.
Great work, Jamie, we’re very proud of you!!!
Freshwater Studies – Fall 2018 Update
It’s been a while since my last update, and a lot has happened since then. I thought I’d catch you up on a few of the highlights.
During the Spring 2018 semester, I wrapped up my last semester at Northwestern Michigan College. I served as Editor-in-Chief for the White Pine Press and, with the help of my staff, successfully published seven, high-quality issues of the student newspaper. I also had the opportunity to visit New York City with a group of White Pine Press writers, designers, and photographers to attend the spring convention of the College Media Association. Some of the highlights of this trip included
walking in Times Square, exploring the New York Public Library, and visiting the World Trade Center Memorial. We even won an award – 3rd Place for Best Two-Year College Newspaper! Most importantly, I finished the last few courses required for my associate’s degree and graduated [with an Associate's Degree] this past May with highest honors!
I’m now working on completing my Western Michigan University coursework through NMC University Center. Over the summer, I participated in two classes for my WMU degree: “Human Impacts on the Great Lakes” and “Freshwater Ecology.” For my Human Impacts class, we voyaged out into West Grand Traverse Bay on NMC’s research vessel, the RV Northwestern, and piloted a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to observe the impact of round gobies and zebra mussels on the lake bottom. For my Freshwater Ecology class, we spent a lot of time out in the field, collecting lake chemistry data and macroinvertebrate samples from regional lakes and streams to assist with the Leelanau Conservancy’s water quality monitoring program. I will be taking four more classes this fall: “Environmental Systems and Cycles,” “Environmental Policy,” “Sustainability Marketing,” and “Sustainability Operations.”
Along with my summer coursework, I’ve been busy working as an intern for the Aquatic Invasive Species Pathways Project at the Benzie Conservation District. Over the past three months, I’ve worked with AIS coordinator, Jane Perrino, and AIS educator, Jodi Monteith, providing educational boat decontamination with our mobile boat washing unit at a variety of locations in Benzie, Leelanau, and Manistee counties. I’ve assisted with several special events, including landing blitzes at Lake Leelanau and Crystal Lake boat launches and paddle tours on Little Platte and Bass Lakes. I even got to march in the Frankfort and Beulah 4th of July parades!
Additionally, I’ve helped develop curriculum for various AIS activities. One of these activities included tracing and outlining a huge map of the Great Lakes basin onto a large drop cloth so students could trace the route of invasive species entering the Great Lakes. I assisted with the implementation of this and other activities at two educational events at the Congregational Summer Assembly.
Because I’m so thankful for the support I’ve received from the Benzie Community Water Council, I am glad I was able to give back to the Benzie community. The past few months have been a blast, and I’m excited to see what comes next!