After receiving the Toyota H2O grant, the National 4-H Council is teaching youth the importance of protecting and conserving freshwater.

The Great Lakes Education Program a nationally recognized program of distinction by the United State Department of Agriculture and the National 4-H Council received the Toyota H20 grant for the program year of 2011-2012 in the amount of $10,000.00.  Toyota's support of 4 H’s youth-focused water quality initiatives funds the 4-H2O Community Projects program - a national environmental stewardship project currently serving California, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, New York City, Texas and West Virginia. Through 4-H2O Community Projects, youth learn to protect and conserve freshwater resources by participating in activities such as water-quality testing, watershed cleanup events and rain garden construction, while strengthening math and science skills.

The fall 2011 Great Lakes Education provided educational experiences to 930 students. Of the 930 students 270 of them participated as a result of the Toyota H2O grant.  The Toyota H2O grant will support the spring 2012 season which will serve over 1,900 students from across Wayne County.  The Toyota grant will provide 22 Detroit Public School classes scholarships for participation and transportation for the spring 2012 season which will represent 660 students. 

The first phase of the program begins in the classroom with their teachers utilizing the GLEP curriculum which includes activities that focus on water, land, people and life.  These activities are design to familiarize students with the Great Lakes and the ecosystems. The second phase of the program is a field experience aboard a fifty foot Coast Guard certified ship which is converted into a floating classroom.  The actual experience aboard the vessel known as the “schoolship” phase is designed to engage students in an exploration of the physical, chemical, cultural and biological dimensions of the Great Lakes watersheds specifically the Detroit River and Lake Erie.  Students perform a variety of water quality and water chemistry experiments and other activities designed to expand on the concepts introduced in the classroom.  Students participate in activities such as: weather observation, navigation, marlinespike and marine knot-tying, bottom sampling, plankton sampling, dissolved oxygen experiments, pH and carbon dioxide experiments, water clarity and color test.

 The post cruise phase of the Great Lakes Education Program is presented in the classroom by teachers utilizing the GLEP curriculum’s post cruise activities designed to reinforce the concepts provided in the pre cruise and cruise learning experience of the program.

Evaluations were conducted with teachers and adult chaperones. Teachers were asked to rate individual learning activities on a 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent) scale, in terms of how well they help achieve curriculum goals. Ratings ranged from a low of 3.75 to a high of 4.00, with a mean of 3.85 (3.59 to 3.80 for chaperones, with a mean of 3.70). When asked to rate the overall GLEP experience, the mean teacher response was a perfect 4.00 (3.88 chaperones). Teachers were asked to rate GLEP compared with other “field trip” experiences they have had on a 1 (much worse) to 5 (much better) scale, with the mean response being 4.78 (4.81 for chaperones). Teachers were asked how well GLEP helps them meet Michigan educational benchmarks on a 1(poor) to 4 (excellent) scale, with the mean response being 3.78.  Teachers reported using the GLEP curriculum, on average they completed 4 learning activities prior to their field trip, and an additional 2 following.  Of those teachers with previous GLEP experience, we found that 93% shared GLEP information with other teachers and/or school administrators;  59% sought more information on Great Lakes and/or ocean science; 67% included more Great Lakes and/or ocean science content in their classroom; 88% encouraged other teachers to participate; 22% visited the Great Lakes more often; 41% visited the Metroparks more often;   22% engaged in new stewardship activities; 19% involved their students in Great Lakes stewardship activities; and 89% felt a greater responsibility for the Great Lakes.


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