MARQUETTE - A river gurgles peacefully as it winds through thick forests and open fields until it empties into a lake. Trout splash in the cool water as water birds dive for food on the sandy bottom. Deer use it as a water source - as do the people who have settled along the shores.
Marquette area teenagers will soon get the chance to record the sounds and sights of a watershed as part of a program called "Listening to the River."
"We're working with teens to not only help them discover their own watersheds, but we're getting tools in their hands, so that they can capture important things about the watersheds," said Chris Kitzman, coordinator of the project in Traverse City and former Marquette resident. "The kids will learn more about the watershed, so that they become better stewards, but they're also teaching their families and community members through some exciting multimedia."
Kitzman recently visited Marquette, bringing the project, funded by the National Science Education Foundation, to the Upper Peninsula Children's Museum and Superior Watershed Partnership.
Together with other local agencies, UPCM and the Partnership will engage youth 11 years and older in the exploration and preservation of their watersheds in Marquette for the next eight months.
"Rather than telling a story in a written format, they're using audio recordings, digital cameras and video to collect the sight and sounds of the watersheds," Kitzman said.
Teens will explore water flow, changes in the rivers due to human impact, historical and cultural elements, habitat and other environmental issues.
"We really give the voice to the youth to help them develop a sense of place," she said. "If they care about their place, they'll take better care of it."
Mary Martin, education coordinator for the Superior Watershed Partnership will be leading the project along with Jim Edwards of the UPCM.
"One of the big things is to get kids out to a watershed and allowing them to make their own observations and ask questions," Martin said. "It's a great opportunity for kids in this area."