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spotlight on mc environmentalists

Monday, February 12, 2018 16:14 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

The spotlight from the governor's office is shining on Michigan City High School for its environmental work along the lakefront.

The environmental restoration team at the high school is one of three recipients of the 20th annual Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence.

The award is for restoration work at Hansen Park along Trail Creek during the 2016-17 school year.

''These awards recognize Hoosier organizations that employ innovation, energy efficiency, pollution prevention and environmental stewardship,'' said Bruno Pigott, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

The project included the removal of invasive species and establishing a native plant buffer to help filter storm run-off into Trail Creek, a Lake Michigan tributary.

The work also involved monitoring the water quality of Trail Creek which runs beside the park used by schools at various grade levels for field trips to teach watershed best management practices.

Shannon Eason, assistant parks superintendent, said the work couldn't have been done without the team because the city doesn't have the expertise in-house to perform such tasks.

She congratulated the teachers and especially the students who are ''out on the ground getting their hands dirty, getting this work done and training themselves for possible environmental careers in the future.''

Nicole Messacar with the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District helped create the team now in its second year.

She said it's a club of about 30 mostly freshmen that meets occasionally during the school day for hands-on projects, guest speakers and other learning experiences related to the environment.

''It's hard work. We're out there cutting down invasive species and spraying chemicals. I take the kids out in hip waders right into Trail Creek,'' Messacar said.

According to IDEM, the other winners were Roche Diagnostics Operations in Indianapolis, a private company that converted 98-percenet of its halogenated hydrocarbon refrigeration systems to natural refrigerant systems from 2002 to 2016, along with Purdue University.

Information from climate research at the West Lafayette campus was developed into an online tool for helping farmers with planning, purchasing and marketing, IDEM officials said.
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