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Upper Peninsula students are winners of Environmental Service Award

Students at the Whitefish Township Community School in Paradise, Mich., undertook a project to make sure their community stays a paradise. Nominated by the school Superintendent Vince Gross, the students are the winners of this year’s Environmental Service Award.

Malina McKechnie, left, and Mary Verkennes, students at Whitefish Township Community School, stand behind "Brush Before You Hike" sign.

Malina McKechnie, left, and Mary Kerkennes of White Township Community School, stand behind the "Brush before you hike" sign. 


The annual recognition program recognizes students in grades 6-12 for completing a school-sanctioned, environment-based project that has tangible results. To qualify as environment-based, the project must provide a benefit for Michigan flora, wildlife, air, water, land, or ecosystems.

Teacher John Griebel said volunteers in grades 8-11 from his Earth Science class, completed a project to educate the public on identifying and reducing the spread of invasive plant species in Lake Superior State Park, Paradise Pathways, South Loop trail. Griebel and the students also wanted to educate the public on native plants found in the park.

Their goal was to improve the overall experience for visitors and residents. The students created interpretive panels to explain the danger of invasive species and to identify native wildlife, trees, and plants in the ecosystem. Griebel and the students worked with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) specialist Theresa Neal and members of the Tahquamenon Country Pathways Association on a botanical trail survey and to select interpretative topics.

Ben Degeler, left, and Keagan Davis stand behind the "Logging-The Original Renewable Resource" sign.

Ben Degeler, left, and Keagan Davis, of Whitefish Township Community School, stand behind the "Logging: the original renewable resource" sign.


Students worked in two-person teams to research narrative and graphics for the signs. Their final designs were sent for production, while an Earth Science and Civics class student construction crew dug holes and placed posts. The students made boot brushes to accompany the invasive species signage at the North and South Loop trailheads. Once the signs were received from production, students installed them on the posts. The project took approximately 11 months to complete.

The annual Environmental Service Award (ESA) competition, for middle and high schools, is sponsored by the Michigan Departments of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) in conjunction with an Earth Day poster contest (for kindergarten through 5th grade).

Winners of the Earth Day poster contest were also announced this week.