Fourth Graders Take in Field Trip to the Islands

October 16, 2017

The Lake always reminds us that she is the boss. Area 4th graders, their teachers, and all involved recentparticipated in a field trip to the islands that has been rescheduled four times. “The 4th time was the charm,” says one of the organizers, Erica Peterson with the “Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.” Last Spring’s trips were cancelled twice due to high winds and waves but last week we had postcard perfect conditions – blue skies, eagle sightings, and sunshine on Julian Bay’s singing sands beach.

The flexibility required to have a field trip on the lake makes this an adventure the children will always remember. 

Marengo Valley and Our Lady of the Lake field trips were the last of a series starting in spring of 2016. They were funded by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (NMSF) in collaboration with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. 

Thanks to funding from the NMSF’s Hollings Grant over 300 4th graders from the coastal communities of Hurley, Ashland, Washburn, Bayfield and South Shore spent a day realizing the interplay between the lake and islands, and their cultural heritage, local economy, and personal lives.

For example, the children were introduced to the ecological significance of the Chequamegon Bay and Apostle Islands to the area’s fishery and in turn it’s importance to all of Lake Superior. “The significance of the marine landscape to the local economy becomes vivid when put into historical perspective,” says Peterson. 

The children boated past an old brownstone quarry, a commercial fishing boat, and learned about the ‘why and how’ of logging, farming, and some Native American subsistence practices. “These islands have been a lure for centuries; everyone who visits finds a good reason to stay or return,” says Peterson. 

The children found out that ‘everyone’ includes bears, migratory birds and even fish like Lake Sturgeon and herring.

Experiencing a place is so much better than hearing about it. The children will write about their visit on post cards. When asked how many have ever been to the Apostle Islands National Park, only a few could raise their hands. 

“Everyone loved it and appreciated the opportunity,” says Zachary Larson, 4th grade teacher at Marengo Valley Elementary School.

The grant was made possible because the Chequamegon Bay Area has been a proposed national marine sanctuary. Both the “Friends” and the NMSF are non-profits who help to create opportunities for education, citizen science, outreach, and community engagement.  With help from the National Park Service’s interpretive staff, and the Apostle Islands Cruise Service, the field trip was well worth the wait.

More information on the NMSF can be found at

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