New video celebrates environmental education efforts in Tippecanoe County

November 15th, 2019 by

If the next generation of young people is going to care for our environment properly as they grow older, then they need to learn more about local waters and how to protect them, and that is one area where Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) hopes to make a difference. As part of our education and outreach efforts, Jay Beugly, an aquatic ecologist with IISG and the Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, works with local schools to teach students about everything from water quality and macroinvertebrates to fish and other aquatic wildlife populations. 

In this new video, Mary Cutler, a naturalist and environmental educator with Tippecanoe County Parks and Recreation, talks about working with Beugly to teach learners of all ages about the health of the Wabash River. In August, fifth-graders from Battle Ground Intermediate School participated in the Battle Ground River WRATS (Wabash Rafting with Adventurous Tomahawk Scientists) program. The students took a rafting trip from Mascouten Park to Fort Ouiatenon, learning about the history, geography, wildlife and water quality of the Wabash River along the way. Cutler, Beugly and other scientists completed fun, educational activities with the students to finish their rafting day. 

“We’re so fortunate over the years to have partnered with Sea Grant, and specifically with Jay Beugly, to extend some of the environmental outreach that connects to tributaries, larger waterways and the fishery populations in our community,” Cutler said. “Through the expertise of Jay and some of his other colleagues, they’ve brought information about how the river health is reflected in the populations of the macroinvertebrates and the fishes that we find in those small tributaries and the larger waterways.”

If you would like to connect with IISG about educational opportunities for K-12 students, please contact Education Coordinator Terri Hallesy.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue Extension.


Writer, Videographer: Hope Charters, 765.494.1614,

Students are welcomed aboard the Lake Guardian research vessel

May 16th, 2018 by

Not every day do students board a ship and learn about the research conducted out on Lake Michigan. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) Community Outreach Specialist Kristin TePas recently organized tours of the U.S. EPA research vessel, the Lake Guardian, for 140 students and chaperones from four Illinois and Indiana schools.

Students from Chicago’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School boarded Lake Guardian just off Navy Pier with their science teachers Cheryl Dudeck and Melanie Yau, who in previous summers, completed a week-long shipboard science teacher workshop on the research vessel. Earlier in the day, Deb Broom’s class at Portage High School in Portage, Ind., and Marta Johnson’s students from South Shore International College Prep in Chicago toured the ship as well.

Students from King College Prep inspecting quagga mussels with their science teacher

While aboard Lake Guardian, students learned from the ship’s crew about aquatic invasive species like quagga mussels in the Great Lakes, got a hands-on experience with research samples, and met the ship’s captain. The crew shared with students stories about life on the ship and demonstrated the equipment researchers use to monitor water quality on the lake. Paris Collingsworth, IISG Great Lakes ecosystem specialist, was on board to share some recent research findings.

Students picking up trash from beach on Ohio Street

Middle school students from Discovery Charter School in Porter, Ind., also joined their science teacher Amanda Renslow aboard the research vessel. In addition to the ship tour, Renslow’s students engaged in a beach cleanup at nearby Ohio Street beach. Students tracked each item of trash they collected for further discussions about recycling and sustainability back in the classroom.

Alongside the beach, Allison Neubauer, IISG Great Lakes outreach associate, led an activity for the Discovery School students to guess how long common items thrown in the trash, like juice containers and newspaper, take to break down in the environment.

For more information about the research vessel, including information about ongoing projects, visit Lake Guardian.

Students near Lake Guardian on Navy Pier

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