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Nurturing a love of nature

‘If we don’t take care of it, we can’t live here anymore’


Who would head outside in sub-freezing temperatures, as snowflakes are swirling, and jump in a creek? The Godwin Green Team, that’s who.

Bill Mull, seventh-grade science teacher at Godwin Heights Middle School, started the extracurricular club last year to increase student opportunities to get outside and learn. So far, membership is at 15 seventh- and eighth-graders.

Recently, the team visited a tributary of Plaster Creek near Hillcroft Park, just west of school, and tested the characteristics of the water for depth, flow rate, pH levels, E. coli content, and more. The students will test the stream periodically throughout the school year to see how it changes and to understand how those changes affect the levels of pollution.

Bill Mull gives directions to members of the Godwin Green Team prior to water sampling

Mull said that through its affiliation with the Groundswell program, a coalition of community partners that creates opportunities for hands-on environmental education, students could look at improvements that could be made for the health of the stream.

“We know now that we cannot take clean water for granted and that we need to work to preserve the health of our streams for ourselves and for the future,” he said. “Between what we do with Groundswell and in this club, we want students to understand that they can be stewards in this process and that their actions can have an impact in maintaining and improving stream health.”

Green Team member Nikolas Ransom, who said he camps almost weekly with his family, has a great appreciation for the outdoors. Nikolas said the Green Team matters because “We all live here.”

Seventh-grader Zadrea Rochelle said Green Team is the first extracurricular activity she’s joined.

Sidney Kremer collects water samples from a tributary of Plaster Creek dubbed ‘Wolverine Creek’ because it’s located next to the Godwin Heights Wolverines’ stadium

“I wanted to learn more about the environment,” she said. “Like Nikolas said, ‘We all live here.’ If we don’t take care of it, we can’t live here anymore.”

The club dabbles in a variety of activities, such as keeping the aquarium clean and the fish alive for the school’s Salmon in the Classroom program. Projects on the horizon for the group include growing native plants and tree seedlings, establishing a school recycling program and learning about orienteering and geocaching.

Mull said the Green Team hopes to conclude the year with a camping trip to the Yankee Springs State Recreation Area.

“I think our club is important in that it can foster an interest in the outdoors and nature that students in our district may not otherwise have access to,” he said. “Anytime we can get them outside, in a greenhouse, working with fish, or doing something other than sitting in front of a video screen, that will be meaningful for our students.”

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Bridie Bereza
Bridie Bereza
Bridie Bereza hails from Lansing and has worked in the Grand Rapids area as a reporter, freelance writer, and communicator since graduating from Aquinas College in 2003. She feels privileged to cover West Michigan's public schools and hopes to shed a little light on the amazing things happening there through her reporting.

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