Vicksburg Environmental Science Club

Students planting a gingko tree on the grounds of Vicksburg High School are from left to right: Jacob Green, Chase Hill, Alex Harsha, Theresa Hawkins, assisted by Lisa Harbour, middle school science teacher and Liz Ratashak, high school science teacher. Students partially in the background are unidentified.

A new gingko tree will be planted on the Vicksburg High School (VHS) campus, this year, thanks to the school’s Environmental Science Club.

“When we asked, ‘What do you want to do for Earth Day?’ students replied, ‘Plant a tree,’” said Liz Ratashak, advisor for the VHS club. Prudential Nursery, a strong supporter of the community and schools, donated the gingko tree for the club to plant.

This is just one of the projects completed by the club since its inception in 2009, headed by science teachers, Lisa Harbour and LIz Ratashak, who have been inspiring and encouraging students to think, wonder and enjoy through the club.

The club originally started with the drive to recycle paper and has blossomed from there to include more environmental issues. Over the years, students have studied freshwater systems, invasive species, local ecosystems, and science in general.

Select Vicksburg Middle School (VMS) and Vicksburg High School (VHS) students have focused their attention on the environment, working in conjunction with Michigan State University (MSU) and Kellogg Biological Station (KBS).

Students are invited into the club by the advisors based on their interests and enthusiasm for natural sciences.

“We really encourage students to openly love science and discuss topics in science that intrigue them,” said Ratashak. “Our love for science really feeds our desire to encourage others to pursue their passions in science.”

Harbour and Ratashak have brought in field scientists from KBS to speak to the group every year. Several graduate students in science have been advisors to the club, bringing with them their knowledge of basic science research while also being role-models for student scientists.

The Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation (VCSF) has been instrumental in the club’s ability to expand their horizons. Over the past few years, club members have applied for, and received, several Curiosity Grants.

Trips to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Meijer Gardens, Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary, and, most recently, a canoe trip on the Kalamazoo River, have been funded by VCSF to expand the students’ horizons.

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