DNR Detroit Youth Conservation Academy Session 2: Minerals management and historical resources

On July 19, the 40 youth and young adults, ages 16-19, participating in the Department of Natural Resources Detroit Youth Conservation Academy arrived at the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) in downtown Detroit, ready for their second session. Minerals management and historical resources were the featured topics of the day.

Mark Sweatman, director of the DNR Office of Minerals Management, and Peter Rose, Ph.D., DNR geologist, began the session by presenting on the importance of minerals management in Michigan.

According to Sweatman, the DNR manages minerals on 4.6 million acres of state-owned land and another 2.4 million acres of land owned or administered by the federal government, private citizens and other groups. Since 1976, this has generated over $2 billion into the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is then granted to communities throughout the state.

“This revenue has directly benefited the citizens of Michigan through funding of accessibility improvements at community parks, maintenance and enhancements at state parks, improvements of fish and wildlife habitat and so much more,” Sweatman said.

Sweatman and Rose also discussed the many professions within the DNR Office of Minerals Management, which include accountants, real estate experts, financial auditors, geologists and more.

During the morning session, representatives from the Michigan History Center (MHC), including Rachel Clark, education specialist, and Jill Arnold, reference archivist with the Archives of Michigan, talked with the participants about what the MHC is and does, specifically the Archives of Michigan and education. They presented students with examples of archival materials pertaining to Detroit, discussed how they are used by researchers, and how the MHC uses them to develop education programs.

After lunch, students were split into two rotating groups for hands-on field experiments. The first group entered the exhibit area of the OAC, and critically observed the surroundings of the first floor. They prepared a list of items that they believed included minerals and then identified what minerals might be found within them. The students then roughly estimated the percentage of minerals versus non-mineral content of the OAC.

The second group walked across Atwater Street to Milliken State Park and Harbor. They observed the rocks that make up the park seawall, writing down the rock characteristics. Moving to the OAC yard next to the building, the students also observed and wrote down rock characteristics from that location. They then prepared a list of differences and formulated ideas as to why they are different.

The day ended with the youth and young adults playing an educational game, led by MHC staff, designed by Breakout Edu.

The group will meet again on Tuesday, July 26 at Belle Isle Park where they will learn about forest resources and fisheries.

For the complete academy agenda, past blogs, photos and more information, visit www.michigan.gov/dnreducation and click on “Conservation Youth Academy 2016” found under the “Youth Programs” heading.