Fifth-graders test waters at OU

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 27, 2015

 Upton student Christopher Heisler, 10, checks out a fox skull.

Upton student Christopher Heisler, 10, checks out a fox skull.

Photo by Donna Agusti


ROCHESTER HILLS — In the past nine years, almost 10,000 elementary school students have learned firsthand about clean water, nature and conservation from experts at Oakland University.

“We are educating the students about their footprint as human beings,” said Michele Arquette-Palermo, program director for the Clinton River Watershed Council. “We start with them now — so we can mold young people.”

The annual Clinton River Water Festival, held May 15 at OU, introduced fifth-grade students from Oakland County schools in the Clinton River watershed to the vital role that water plays in the region. 

The event offered indoor and outdoor sessions led by professionals from government agencies, nonprofits and natural resource groups, and OU student volunteers.

“Each student attends four to five presentations,” Arquette-Palermo said.

Students learned about water-related topics including stormwater and wastewater treatment, soil erosion, wetlands, creeks and streams, habitats, and sources of pollution.

“The fifth-graders are always so excited to learn about the importance of water and what they can do to stop water pollution,” said Kendra Agee, an OU graduate student volunteer.

Ava Lawson, 11, from Haviland Elementary School in Waterford, said she enjoyed attending the festival.

“We are learning about water,” she said. “And where the watershed is. We made a map of the watershed — and you get to be at a college where college students are.”

Students also participated in a variety of games that illustrated how salmon swim upstream.

“Only 10 percent of salmon survive, out of thousands,” said Rebecca Bruggs, a Haviland Elementary School teacher.

“When we hosted the first water festival, we had no idea this event would achieve this level of success, taking 10,000 fifth-graders on an environmental, educational journey,” said Reginald McCloud, director of OU’s pre-college programs. “I am absolutely thrilled with the school districts, the professional community and Oakland University for their continued support of this event, which has given so much to the future stewards of the Clinton River watershed and the environment as a whole.”