Wawasee High School freshmen, WACF begin water conservation program

SYRACUSE – Wawasee High School started a new tradition today with their first ever freshmen rafting trip held at the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation’s newest property known as the Between-the-Lakes Preserve, previously the Searfoss family homestead.

Students got the chance to take a break from the classroom and learn how to build a watershed, how water flows and how humans disrupt and disturb the watershed.

Pam Schumm, retired Wawasee Biology teacher and WACF educator, along with several other teachers, administrators, and law enforcement officials led students on a rafting tour on Syracuse Lake where they tested the water and collected plant specimens.

The goal of the rafting was for students to have a much better understanding of water quality and human impacts after the watershed experience, as well as foster a relationship between the students and nature.

The tour began today with approximately 60 students and will continue Thursday and Friday with about 75 students rafting those days.  “We are trying new ways to meet state standards for 4th and 9th grade students, but do it in a fun way that gets the kids out of the classroom,” Schumm said.

The Kosciusko County Soil and Water Conservation District supplied the rafts for the tour. Kosciusko County SWCD does a similar program for Warsaw Community High School with Grace College’s Center for Lakes and Streams. They were only able to host one school, so Schumm spearheaded a program for Wawasee.

Kathy Tittle, former art teacher, volunteered to chaperone students on the rafts. Tittle commented, “This is something the students may remember years from now. They learn from activities. They learn from doing.”