The Glen Lake Association’s Discovery Boat/ Schoolship Program was started in 2012 at the Glen Lake Yacht Club in Glen Arbor. GLA’s watershed biologist, Rob Karner designed the program for the children of Yacht Club parents aiming to educate and raise awareness about the preservation and protection of our area’s greatest resource, our many bodies of fresh water.
Though initially not open to the general public, the program proved so successful that in 2017, the Discovery Boat program was opened up to all, particularly to GLA members, riparians and the local community. Karner, along with assistant watershed scientists, Laura Wiesen and Joe Blondia, take eight pre-registered guests out on the water to perform experiments and explain the biology and unique natural features of the watershed and how to protect it. Not only are the trips educational, they’re also a fun way to experience one of the region’s favorite pastimes—a day on the lake.
The Discovery Boat program has been extremely popular, with many of the eight scheduled July and August rides filling up as early as April. The program was never designed to be a money maker, but rather a learning experience.
Using a rented pontoon boat from Glencraft Marina, the GLA invites adults and children ages five and up to participate in the educational cruises. Tickets are $10 for GLA members and $25 for the public.
The onboard curriculum varies and is tailored to the interests of the participants of each session. Topics range from discovering how the glaciers formed the lake and surrounding hillsides, wetlands, and streams, to the chemistry of the water. The biology of the lakes’ plants and animals and the ecology of how all the parts work together constitute another portion of the educational rides. Finally, participants hear about and discuss how the changing climate and invasive species in the area impact our watershed. The life cycle of Swimmer’s Itch and how to avoid contracting it is another important topic that is addressed.
Registration for Discovery Boat tours can be done easily by going to the GLA website listed below, with educational “virtual tours” also found in video form on the webpage when the season hits unexpected snags, as in 2020.
Watch the video here: https://www.glenlakeassociation.org/discovery-boat/