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Water Scientists Work With YMCA Day Camp Kids to Sample Water for Didymo

Under a hazy sun with a cool breeze off the lake the morning of June 21, kids from the Grand Marais YMCA Day Camp came to the Letterecy Deck to learn more about Didymo, commonly known as rock snot. Minnesota Children’s Press coordinated the learning sessions.

The kids worked with scientists from the Sci­ence Museum of Minnesota to take samples of water from different places in the harbor and study them under a microscope. Seeing first hand what some kids said was “weird stuff,” they learned about Didymosphenia geminata, or Didymo.

Didymo is an invasive species that has been found moving into the streams and rivers that feed the big lake. Known by the nose wrinkling name of “rock snot”, this type of algae attach­es to plants and rocks in rivers and streams. It can produce thick mats that cover stream beds, making swimming, fishing, and other water ac­tivities undesirable.

YMCA Day Campers view water samples under a microscope. (submitted photo)

Waiting for their turns at the high powered mi­croscopes, the children colored worksheets that point out that a stream with Didymo has thick mats of the stuff on the bottom and probably has less habitat for fish and the insects they need for food.

Minnesota Children’s Press Chief Curiosity Officer, Anne Brataas, announced three projects to engage the Day Camp children in active, out­door, environmental learning. Letteracy Deck, Love Letters to Lake Superior, and Jolly Olo­gies

“Letteracy Deck’s sole purpose is to provide people of all ages a free seat for the best view of Lake Superior (the south end of Lake Superi­or Trading Post) to reflect and connect through handwritten letters or drawings,” Brataas said. “We call it Kindness Commons.”

The campers will be writing expository advo­cacy letters, “Love Letters to Lake Superior,” that will be addressed to media editorial pag­es, elected officials, environmental groups as well as friends, family members, and worship groups. All to give these young people a means of civic participation and environmental educa­tion.

Library Friends of Cook County, a local non-profit, has underwritten the Jolly Ologies project for the YMCA kids. The Friends goal is to see active outdoors and environmental edu­cation that encourages reading and writing. The deliverable from Jolly Ologie is a public edu­cation book on Didymo written, composed, ed­ited, illustrated, and produced by the children with support of Minnesota Children’s Press.

Minnesota Children’s Press is a Grand Mara­is based 501(c)(3) charity that mentors rural children in researching, writing, illustrating, publishing, and selling books through its Story Scouts publishing club. More information can be found at www.minnchildpress.org  and www.storyscouts.org.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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