This past July, Sr. Marya Czech, SND, Assistant Professor of Biology & Health Sciences, led her Topics in Biology (BIO 499) class on a camping trek of the Great Lakes. With the promise to "get wet in every Great Lake except Ontario," the five-person crew camped in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

Biology class explores Great LakesArmed with their love of the outdoors, Biology major John Danziger and Environmental Science majors Sam Alvarado and Amanda Stroud traveled with fellow student and Adolescence to Young Adult Education major Jill Hojnacki.

After long days of exploring and learning, the students took turns preparing their own special recipes each night and made sure to delight the palates of both the vegetarians and meat eaters among them.

The five-day, four-night immersion experience offered many highlights:

  • Assist the US Fish and Wildlife Service electrofish streams north of L'Anse Township Peninsula
  • Collect stream and water data
  • Help several agencies identify the historic range of native brook trout in the Keweenaw Peninsula
  • Participate in the Great Lakes Brook Trout Venture
  • Make site visits and collect rocks at Red Rock Cliff Beach and Huron River Falls
  • Explore geological differences of agates, sedimentary materials, igneous and the Mariah comet splash
  • Learn about the usage of the Great Lakes in the Keweenaw Bay
  • Visit the L'Anse water treatment plant, L'Anse power plant and Certainteed Ceilings power plant
  • Discover the use of low-timber products to power an electric plant and the use of the steam from the electric plant to assist the ceiling tile industry
  • Explore the Monarch butterfly habitat and one of the largest tombolos on the Great Lakes
  • Work with a biologist to assess Misery River and learn about the US Fish and Wildlife Service's sea lamprey control program

Biology class explores Great LakesOne of the highlights for the group was the visit to Point Abbaye County Park. "Our hike to the actual point of the peninsula involved rock climbing and a little scrambling," noted Sr. Marya. However, she says, "the view was well worth the effort. Of course, we could have taken one of the walking trails to the point, but that would have been too easy.

"The Keweenaw Bay side was noisy with waves and whitecaps while the Huron Bay side was as still as glass. We stood on the oldest exposed bedrock in North America, and the southernmost extent of the Laurentian or Canadian Shield. Small washouts gave us an idea of how water can sound like thunder as it crashes into the deepening caves it carves."

What suggestion do these stalwart learners offer? "Our suggestion for management, protection, and preservation of the area is to create a small field and research station for colleges and universities willing to form a consortium of environmental programs."

To educate the Lourdes community, the class shared their experience and photos during a presentation. Those gathered learned the importance of maintaining the balance of native species both on land and in water as well as tips on how to assist in these important endeavors.