Community Connections


The Onaway High School Service Learning class, led by Scott Steensma and open to all 9-12 graders, has 11 years of experience connecting students with community partners through individual student projects. These student driven projects are passed from class to class with new students select an existing project to maintain and enhance. Each year students work closely with community partners arranging site visits and providing updates. Current projects include the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Salmon in the Classroom project, the Sturgeon for Tomorrow Sturgeon in the Classroom project, using the school's greenhouse to grow plant through the use of raised beds and hydroponics, growing plants, working in the school forest property owned by Onaway Schools, caring for animals that include a rough green snake, rats, gerbils, finches, hamsters, turtles, piranha, angelfish, tetra, goldfish and guppies, the school recycling program, and sea lamprey.


Power in Partnership


Through funding provided by Our Fisheries, Our Future the Service Learning class braved cold weather and rain to visit the Swan River weir to collect salmon eggs to raise in their classroom. Their tour was led by Pat Van Daele (Unit Fisheries Technician Supervisor) and Julie Shafto (Great Lakes Creel Clerk and member of Hammond Bay Area Anglers Association and Lake Huron Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee). The students were able to witness how salmon are captured at the weir and eggs collected, learn about careers in fisheries, and ask questions of researchers from Michigan State University's Department of Fish & Wildlife. The class also traveled to the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians hatchery near Pellston to pick up a live Lake Sturgeon to raise and later release. While there, students were able to tour the hatchery, talk with hatchery personnel, learn about careers related to fisheries, and learn about the heritage of Lake Sturgeon and their cultural and ecological importance.

Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences

Through Our Fisheries, Our Future and the mentorship of their instructor, students were able to acquire salmon eggs, hatch them, raise them, and release chinook salmon fry into the Ocqueoc River. As part of this project, students were able to visit the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service station in Alpena, MI. They connected with fisheries biologists and had the chance to pilot an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) in the onsite dive tank. Back in the classroom, students learned about aquatic environments through testing water quality biweekly (ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate), performing water changes based in accordance with their collected data, collected and reported temperature, growth and mortality data, adjusted feed amounts based on collected data, learning about salmon life cycle, and sending monthly updates to the Hammond Bay Area Anglers Association. In addition, students shared all they learned with elementary classrooms through outreach presentations.

32 Students are involved in this project.

1 Teacher are involved in this project.