Program aims to educate local youth on our unique water system

Pershing Park lake Michigan
Photo credit: Scott Olsen/MyEyes Photography

The Healthy Beaches program takes approximately 1,500 seventh grade Racine Unified School District (RUSD) students on field trips to the beach. There they learn about what makes our beaches healthy and what threatens them and the Great Lakes as a whole. After the classroom lessons, students head to the beach to test the quality of the water, observe and record beach conditions, and identify potential pollution sources.

Field trips take place on Zoo Beach, Racine, throughout the month of May, generally Tuesday through Thursday in the morning and again in the early afternoon.

The program is coordinated through a partnership between the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps (Corps). The Corps provides workforce development, and a High School degree program for those in need. It includes young adults aged 17-25 who lead and instruct the 7th graders on the field trips. The Healthy Beaches program has been made possible by a generous grant from S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. The program has led to full district-wide integration of Great Lakes learning in a local context.

To protect the future of the Great Lakes, we need to invest in our next generation of environmental advocates. This means giving kids a fun, hands-on experience at the beach to help them learn about the importance of their watershed, how it works and their impact on beach health. The program is now in its eighth year and some Corps members were once RUSD students who remember participating in beach field trips and are enthusiastic to pass on their learning to the current 7th graders.

For more information and details on the field trips, please contact Todd Brennan at tbrennan@greatlakes.org or 414-559-0317.