Students study Lake Michigan shoreline, erosion prevention measures

From the bluffs to the beaches, erosion hazards on Lake Michigan's shoreline are everywhere. Now, one school district is working with community partners to make sure the next generation learns how to protect that shoreline.  

"Everyone has a stake and everyone has a role to play. In keeping our coastlines healthy," said Adam Bechle, Coastal Engineering Outreach Specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant

Adam Bechle

Adam Bechle

Bechle is among the organizers and community partners of a new program underway for Racine Unified School District (RUSD) students.

"Being cognizant of what they can do to help keep plutons and nutrients out of their storm drains even if it’s pretty far away from the lake," Bechle said.

Lake Michigan shoreline in Racine

Lake Michigan shoreline in Racine

The program focuses on the next generation – and their understanding of maintaining Lake Michigan's coastlines which have endured several years of record high water levels – leading to erosion on the beaches and bluffs. 

Funding for the pilot is being provided through a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Students will primarily study Racine's North Beach.

"We’re looking at mostly 7th-grade students," said Janell Decker, RUSD Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

Janell Decker

Janell Decker

Decker said this year, staff and faculty will review the necessary training. Then, students will travel to the beach for hands-on experiences next year. If all goes well, the program will expand.

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"It kind of builds on multiple touchpoints on how water affects our community," Decker said.

Lake Michigan shoreline in Racine

Lake Michigan shoreline in Racine

Decker said the goal is for students to not just to learn what they can do to protect the shoreline, but also the promising futures that can rise from one of our greatest resources.

"The careers and the planning and how many pieces of our community infrastructure is attached to our lake," Decker said.

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