GMS students install plants at Grayling Fish Hatchery raceway

School works with Au Sable Institute on five-year ecology project at historic local facility
A group of Grayling Middle School students conducted a class service project at the Grayling Fish Hatchery on Tuesday, helping with an effort to put native plants by one of the trout raceways at the historic facility.
Tuesday marked year two of a five-year project to put native plants at five areas of the Fish Hatchery, said Christine Nothstine, GMS student council advisor and STEM teacher. Last year, the GMS student council students completed planting on one of the raceways, and this year’s student council group (approximately 30 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students) planted vegetation on an adjacent raceway.
The project is part of the Au Sable Institute’s Restoration Ecology for Young Students (REYS) Program.
“At the heart of the REYS program is a desire to engage students in project-oriented learning that address environmental problems within their home places. Students tour their watershed, learn about biodiversity, and design and implement a restoration project that incorporates the use of native plants.  Since 2017 REYS schools have completed more than 30 restoration projects ranging from school gardens to assisting river restoration efforts. To date, students and teachers have installed and contributed more than 30,000 native plants to local environments,” according to the Au Sable Institute.
Nothstine said the endeavor included classroom work and lessons, and Tuesday’s planting event was the culmination of the learning effort. 
“The buy-in of the kids is tremendous,” Nothstine said. “To see them working so hard is worth it, to see them so engaged. The kids like this project a lot.”
“I love this day. The kids are having a lot of fun,” Nothstine said. “It’s fun seeing the kids having fun with a project.”
Next year, for the third phase of the endeavor, Nothstine hopes to have her STEM students grow plants for the effort to “bring more kids into the project.”
Paul Wiemerslage, Au Sable Institute Environmental Education Coordinator, said the organization works with several schools in the area on a variety of ecology and restoration projects, and students learn about watershed issues and solutions.
“This is one satellite project among an array of projects in northern Michigan,” Wiemerslage said. 
The projects are grant-funded and free for the schools, according to Wiemerslage.
Wiemerslage said Tuesday’s event at the Grayling Fish Hatchery went well.
“This is a big project. They’re going to put in 1,200 to 1,600 plants here,” Wiemerslage said.
The Grayling Fish Hatchery opened to visitors for the season on Memorial Day weekend. The facility is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Crawford County Avalanche

Mailing Address
Box 490
Grayling, MI 49738

Phone: 989-348-6811
FAX: 989-348-6806

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