NEW BUFFALO — Visitors to the April 18 New Buffalo High School Ideas Fair had the opportunity to learn about efforts to save local beaches, keep kids safe during the Prom, combat invasive species, and much more.

Planting dunegrass to preserve dunes along Lake Michigan is a current New Buffalo High School Envirothon Class community outreach project.

Enrique Arana said students in the class are looking to replenish native dunegrass along local shores, and have reached out to Chikaming and New Buffalo township officials to find an area to begin the project with a volunteer day.

He said the dunegrass will be raised in a greenhouse at the school (garden crop seedlings from that greenhouse were on display at the Ideas Fair). Once in place. the beach grasses help hold the sand in place. Without them, erosion from high winds and the lake can result in jagged cliffs and rocky shores.

At a nearby Women in Engineering booth, NBHS sophomore Paige Bluschke explained a wood (or paper) fired rocket stove that students (both male and female) made in a Smartlab class recently.

She said the fire is inside a metal tube covered in cement while copper tubing carrying water circles it, with the water heated on its way through.

Eleanor Serocki of the Southwest by Southwest Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) and Ralph Whitsel of Cub Scout Pack 552 (also involved in efforts to organize a local Boy Scout Troop) had tables set up near each other in the “blue gym”.

Whitsel said he is interested in seeing of the two groups can team up and help each other out.

“We do a lot of tree identification plant identification,” he said.

Serocki said the area CISMA is working with Michigan Sea Grant this summer on a program called Michigan Paddle Stewards.

“That is teaching throughout the state as they go out on paddle days on kayaks or canoes how to identify invasive species they find so they can help us track and monitor them.”

Kyra Arvanitis was one of the New Buffalo HIgh School students who recently went on a trip to Spain and shared that experience at an Ideas Fair booth.

Arvanitis said about 20 students went to Seville, stayed with families in the area, and toured scenic parts of the country. She also showed several students at the Ideas Fair how to dance “The Sevillana.”

Stacey LaRocco and her daughter, Audrey, provided plenty of information on natural areas protected by Chikaming Open Lands at the Ideas Fair.

The first of a set of brochures describing COL nature preserves (made possible by a Pokagon Fund matching grant) were at the table.

“Over the past several months we’ve been working with Fusion Design of New Buffalo to develop this online mapping and print system,” Stacey said, adding that the information also can be viewed on a cell phone and is interactive.

A gathering space shelter and compost toilets are slated to be added at the Flynn Woods Preserve this summer.

Gabby D’Arcangelis said the New Buffalo High School SADD Chapter is promoting the AAA promise not to drink and drive for prom (which is scheduled for April 27).

Kristy Good from the New Buffalo Public Library was promoting upcoming events including a Teen Advisory Board-sponsored Giant Game Day for younger children at 1 p.m. May 4.

“They are building all of the board games for it … oversized Pac Man, giant Twister, life-size Hungry Hungry Hippos.”

A viewing of the first episode of “Stranger Things” is set for May 31.

Sonya Heath said the New Buffalo High School Peer to Peer effort involves more than 20 students helping those in the elementary, middle and high schools both socially and educationally.

“We try to encourage good behavior and working with classmates and their teachers and people in the community. We try to prepare them as bees we can for life,” she said.

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