TICONDEROGA-The Lake George Association's Floating Classroom program, now in its 21st season, is back out on the water again.
"Already this summer we've taken out students from Corinth and South Glens Falls, and later this month, schools from Ticonderoga, Glens Falls, Hadley Luzerne and Hartford will join us," said LGA Executive Director Walt Lender of Ticonderoga. "Recently we took out a group we've never taken out before, and a group some people might be surprised by - the staff and directors of the Lake George Park Commission."
Early this month,10 LGPC staff members and commissioners traveled out on the Floating Classroom for a hands-on study of the science of Lake George. Hardly neophytes to the watershed's environmental concerns and problems, LGPC commissioners and staff benefited from this opportunity to leave their desks behind and get out on the Lake together, while also increasing their knowledge of the Floating Classroom program.
"This program is a great resource. It's both educational and fun. Emily DeBolt is a first class instructor, and I was really pleased to hear that virtually every student in the watershed, when they are in sixth, seventh or eighth grade, is getting out on this boat and learning about lake protection. For us here at the LGPC, being out on the Floating Classroom was a great motivator. It was great just to get out on the Lake together, and to remember why it is that we are all working so hard to protect this lake," said Commissioner Jim Kneeshaw.
"We know that educating our young people about the lake, the natural resources and the concepts of environmental protection is the best way to ensure a healthy future for the lake and our world," said LGPC Executive Director Mike White. "The Floating Classroom is the best of the best programs anywhere."
On board, park commission guests measured the lake's clarity with Secchi disks, and even tried their hand at capturing zooplankton, the basis of the lake's food chain.
"We like to see a wide variety of plankton because that indicates a reasonably healthy lake environment," said DeBolt. "Our Secchi disk readings confirm Lake George as an oligotrophic lake, meaning it is low in harmful nutrients, high in dissolved oxygen, and able to support a wide variety of life. Secchi readings also indicate the clarity, age and relative health of a lake."
"By making people aware of how humans affect the lake, we hope to bring along a new population of folks interested in good stewardship," Lender said. "Aboard the Floating Classroom, we bring this message to over a thousand people every season, and it's great that the park commission is now more familiar with the program and has a clearer understanding of what we are doing."
A new aspect of the Floating Classroom program this year is educating people about Lake George's most recent threat: the Asian Clam.
While most Floating Classroom participants are with a group - either a school, scout troop, homeowners association or other organization - the LGA will offer Floating Classroom trips for tourists and the general public on Wednesdays this July and August. Reservations requests can be made online or by calling the LGA at 668-3558.