Students to compete for new kayaks by volunteering

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 9, 2013

 One of the kayaks to be given away by the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee is on display at Lake Shore High School.

One of the kayaks to be given away by the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee is on display at Lake Shore High School.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — With its mission to conserve and protect Lake St. Clair, as well as protecting the lakes enjoyment now and for generations to come, it only seems fitting that the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee would promote fun on the lake, as well as its cleanliness.

And with a year-long contest for high school students, the group is doing just that.

A $1,500 grant from IBM enabled the committee to purchase three 12-foot, one-person kayaks — plus paddles and personal flotation devices — to be given away to the student at each of the city’s three high schools that gives the most time to the committee’s projects by May 23. Projects the students can help with include the Nautical Coast Cleanup, the I-94 entrance and exit ramp cleanups and storm drain stenciling.

“The kayak program is perfect for the enjoyment of Lake St. Clair,” said Committee Chair Joe St. John, explaining that the Shore-Pointes Triathlon has boosted the popularity of the one-person boats in the area. “We’re getting the kids involved with our projects. They’re going to have to work for it, but they’re fun jobs — they’re fun projects to work on and I think it’s just an exciting project.”

Waterfront Committee member Christian de Ron applied for the grant through his employer, IBM. They hope the contest raises awareness of the committee and its environmental work with the younger generation, and gets people out on the lake who might not have access to boats any other way.

“It gets people on the lake and enjoying the lake,” de Ron said. “This is a way to get them to start interacting with boating.”

St. John said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the grant.

“We couldn’t spend the city’s money to do something like this,” he said.

Students can pick up applications at South Lake, Lakeview and Lake Shore high schools, and then pick a project and start getting involved in the efforts to keep the lake clean.

“That’s the main thing,” he said. “We want them to volunteer, and we want to create a lake awareness at the same time.”

The teen years are a great time to introduce students to environmental awareness, de Ron said.

“To get them to start participating (is) helping the environment for the rest of their lives,” he said.

Students are also encouraged to come up with their own project to support lake health, de Ron said.

“If they did come up with one of their own … they are more than welcome (to) come and talk to us and get approval,” he said. “All the hours associated to that project would also be calculated.”

Applications for the kayaks are due May 23, 2014, and the winner from each school will be chosen at that time. For more information, email