It’s almost certain that neither the Native Americans nor the early settlers sat on the banks of the Grand River some 200 years ago and lunched on single-serving bags of popcorn or juice boxes. But it is highly likely that they, like sixth-graders Eric Brunett and Ben Haley, spotted blue heron, scarlet tanager and Baltimore oriole as they paddled along.
“We also saw turtles, a pileated woodpecker and a plastic chair,” added Eric, who was traveling about a 10-mile stretch of the river with nearly two dozen of his classmates at Goodwillie Environmental School. Sixth-graders make the trip every year in a pair of birch bark canoes made by former Goodwillie students.
“We’re learning about the different parts of a canoe, the strokes and how to control it,” explained student Nastia Lychuk.
More than that, teacher Beth Dondit said, the trip culminates lessons in the area’s history and culture — including about Rix Robinson, a fur trader in the 1800s who is known as Ada’s first white settler. Ecological study by way of water quality testing and wildlife also were part of the journey.