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Trading Spaces: Urbanized Detroit to Forested Manistique, Michigan

Posted by Janel Crooks, Hiawatha National Forest, and Lisa Perez, Urban Connections Detroit, U.S. Forest Service in Forestry
Oct 20, 2014
A group of young people from Detroit walk a somewhat unfamiliar path along the shoreline of Clear Lake on the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan. The U.S. Forest Service teams with partners to help open the world of natural resources to children who live in cities. (U.S. Forest Service)
A group of young people from Detroit walk a somewhat unfamiliar path along the shoreline of Clear Lake on the Hiawatha National Forest in Michigan. The U.S. Forest Service teams with partners to help open the world of natural resources to children who live in cities. (U.S. Forest Service)

Detroit youth joined the U.S. Forest Service and traded their city lights and busy streets for an action-packed three days on the Hiawatha National Forest filled with views of trees, wildlife and dirt roads.

For most, this was their first time experiencing life outside the metropolitan area and entering the forest near Manistique, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The youth were filled with excitement and nerves as they prepared for their day that would be spent learning about different aspects of the Forest Service and information about the forest itself.

The young people began their morning learning how and why to use a compass, along with how to test clarity and depth of water in Clear Lake. They then received hands-on learning experience about what it is like to be a seasonal forest fighter. They were able to ask questions and tried on gear as they learned what types of opportunities are available and what types of work the forest firefighters do.

“I liked learning about the forest firefighters because it sounds cool that they get to go out and put out fires everywhere in the forest,” said eight-year-old Courtney.

In the afternoon, youth and their families enjoyed hiking through the forest around Clear Lake with a silviculturist who showed them the different types of forest trees and discussed the different duties that a forester has.

For some young urban dwellers, looking at and touching live fish is a new experience. The U.S. Forest Service programs help to teach young people the value of open spaces and conservation. (U.S. Forest Service)
For some young urban dwellers, looking at and touching live fish is a new experience. The U.S. Forest Service programs help to teach young people the value of open spaces and conservation. (U.S. Forest Service)

Also in the afternoon the kids spent time with some of the Forest Service’s seasonal fishery employees. The kids learned how to test the water temperature and what types of information they look for when they catch the fish. The staff also used a net and caught a few fish to give the kids some insight on what a day-in-the-life looks like for a member of the seasonal fishery staff.

“This was my first time at a forest and aside from all the mosquitoes my experience here was great,” 18-year-old D’Andre Carter said. “The area was certainly different from Detroit, but it was pretty and I would definitely consider coming back.”

Throughout the entire day the youth were all smiles and fascinated at this new adventure they were on. The kids ended their day by cooling off in Clear Lake and looked forward to the next two days they were able to spend learning and exploring the Hiawatha National Forest.

This trip was made possible by the agency’s Urban Connections Program that works with partners, such as Our Global Kids, engaging urban communities and underserved youth to help sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands.

A youngster from Detroit dons an oversized firefighter’s shirt to experience what is might be  like on a firefighting team. (U.S. Forest Service)
A youngster from Detroit dons an oversized firefighter’s shirt to experience what is might be like on a firefighting team. (U.S. Forest Service)
Category/Topic: Forestry

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Comments

Paul
Oct 24, 2014

These programs are so valuable to kids and the future of our environment. Thank you, Forest Service, for doing this!