IRON RIVER - Seventy three children, ages 6-15, and 20 adults attended the Aileen Fisher Environmental Day Camp at the Iron County Museum recently participating in workshops and learning a wide range of environmental topics.
Volunteers from Michigan State University- Cooperative Extension, U.S. Forest Service, the Timberwolf Alliance, educators, scientists and lay people with backgrounds in environmental concerns offered assistance in presenting the day camp.
The youngest children re-used cardboard from cereal and cracker boxes to construct "Magic Recycled Wallets," and then put them to use with local museum currency, "Iron County Cash," to make purchases from the museum gift shop.
Other craft activities included re-purposing print material to make bookmarks, and fashioning picture frames and jewelry with items from nature.
Participants also developed a timeline illustrating rates of decomposition of trash items.
"It was surprising that often the things that have limited use, such as a Styrofoam cup, are the trash items that have the longest decomposition time or may be around indefinitely," a spokesperson noted.
A popular activity during the camp was making plaster casts of wolf tracks. Many participants learned about wolf behaviors and social structure of a pack, as well as broadening their awareness of common misconceptions of wolves.
Older children took a walking tour of the Dober Mine Treatment System to learn how water from a mine pit, made acidic by mineral waste, must be restored to a neutral pH before entering the Iron River.
They also walked the Apple Blossom Trail and learned how to identify two local invasive plant species - Buckthorn and Honeysuckle - and used several methods of eradication.
Renewable Energies were demonstrated through the construction of hand-held wind turbines and the use of solar cookers and ovens.
At the close of the day, participants were encouraged to think of themselves as Environmental Stewards just as Aileen Fisher was an example and who the camp is named after. Fisher, is a naturalist, poet and children's author who grew up in Iron River.