CLEAR LAKE — The 27-year-old Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy received a national award.
The 2018 North American Lake Management Society’s annual symposium was held in late October and early November in Cincinnati, Ohio. CLTLC Executive Director Bridget Harrison attended the conference to accept the Leadership and Service Award for Significant Community Education and Outreach Efforts.
Headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, NALMS’ mission is to forge partnerships among citizens, scientists and professionals to foster the long-term management and protection of lakes and reservoirs. The Indiana Lakes Management Society is an affiliate of NALMS.
Harrison was hired as the conservancy’s first employee and executive director in 2015. The CLTLC was nominated for the award by Kathy Schenkel of Clear Lake.
“She’s a friend of the conservancy,” said Harrison. The CLTLC operates through community support. Its goal, as stated on its web site at clearlakeconservancy.org, is to “help preserve, protect and manage the natural environment within the watershed and township for future generations.”
The conservancy garnered NALMS recognition for two facets of its outreach, a 12-year-old Kneehigh Naturalist program and the new “Ask Bridgett” blog.
“It can be very effective in some of the hotter topics around the lakes,” Harrison said, still a little shy about the spotlight.
The most recent question posed to Harrison was about the Michindoh Aquifer, a tri-state underground water source an Ohio company wants to tap to serve Toledo suburbs.
“Ask Bridgett” debuted in June at the web site as a way for the conservancy to communicate with the public. It has dealt with subjects like lake turbidity and runoff.
“We try to research and provide facts and information,” said Harrison. One of the questions emailed to her asked why there was a proliferation of aquatic plants and algae in Clear Lake this year. Harrison and retired Tri-State University professor Pete Hippensteel checked into the situation and discovered that a very rainy May had caused some erosion and phosphorus runoff at local farms, which were aware of the problem and working to remedy it.
“I think we’re pretty lucky in our watershed with our farming community that we have,” said Harrison.
The Knee-high Naturalist program, presented annually in the month of July, consists of four hour-and-a-half workshops. Children of all ages are welcome with an adult chaperon. The idea is to educate children to be naturalists in their backyards, on the playground and in their communities.
“We provide real examples of how they can make a positive impact on our environment,” says the web site. Tracey Hughes and the conservancy’s education committee organize Knee-high Naturalist. The 2018 program included fishing, a farm tour complete with hay ride, beekeeping demonstration by Terry Dalrymple and a talk by a Pokagon naturalist. After the workshops, Harrison said parents and children are asked about their interests and what workshops they might like to see the next year.
“A huge thank you and congratulations to our volunteers who make our outreach and education work not only possible but incredibly meaningful and effective,” it says on the web site. “The work of our Communication and Education Committees is greatly appreciated.”
Along with Knee-high Naturalist and “Ask Bridgett,” the CLTLC offers a variety of services and outreaches.
“Our adult programs are open to anybody and everybody,” said Harrison.