Beach cleanup on Thunder Bay

ALPENA – Sixth grade students from Thunder Bay Junior High participated in the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program by helping to clean up trash at Mich-e-ke-wis Park on Wednesday. The students swept the beaches and the park looking for every kind of trash or litter from plastics to cigarette butts, and kept data on their findings.

“The students weigh the trash to measure their findings, and categorize it into different areas such as smoking, food related and plastic or not plastic,” Michigan Sea Grant extension educator Brandon Schroeder said. “It’s part of the Great Lakes wide adopt-a-beach network. All the data they collect is put into a database to monitor the pollutants possible in the Great Lakes.”

According to Schroeder, there previously was no data available for this area, so the students are contributing to help better the understanding of the environment.

The sixth-graders also participated in environmental research, learned how to identify different animal species, learned about the difference between invasive phragmities and native plants, and took water samples to determine the pH level of the water.

Another beach cleanup took place on Wednesday at Bay View Park by high school teacher Melissa Smith’s chemistry and wildlife sciences classes. The high school students participated in the adopt-a-beach program and documented the trash they found and weighed it to determine the amount picked up.

The high school students also were measuring different factors that affect the beach and water.

“We take data on the weather, pH, do water sampling, check the water for bacteria, monitor the temperature and wind effects on the lake and beach,” Smith said. “The data we collect from the trash cleanup is submitted to the Alliance for the Great Lakes to compile and put into their database. That way they can monitor the different types of debris around the Great Lakes and the major impact debris and different types of trash have on the lakes.”

The high school students will be going on the Lady Michigan later this fall for further testing of the pollutant and plastic levels in Lake Huron and Thunder Bay, and to take more water samples to use in their chemistry class for testing.

For more information on the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program, visit

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.