MCHS science teacher Andrew Jasicki, who was awarded a Unity Foundation Teacher Innovation grant, recently put forth his best efforts in a restoration project at Fedder’s Alley. Read below to hear his story.
NEWS DISPATCH, MICHIGAN CITY — The restoration project at Fedder’s Alley resumed Tuesday with volunteers harvesting beach grass and replanting it at the recently cleared area. This phase is scheduled to continue for the next two days.
Employees from Fairmount Minerals, an international sand and gravel mining company, volunteered to help with this project as part of their commitment to environmental sustainability, according to employee Sandy Stemmler.
Thirty-five volunteers from the company harvested beach grass from a location on Hitchcock Road on Tuesday and will be replanting it at Fedder’s Alley today. This group consisted of volunteers from Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan and Mexico.
Fairmount Minerals became involved in this project when Stemmler, a local resident, heard about the restoration project in the news.
“I thought it would be a really good idea to help the community and our company goals,” Stemmler said.
Fairmount Minerals mines sand and gravel, which is used in a variety of ways in many industries, such as automotive glass, golf course sand, molds at foundries and pool filter sand.
“We take from the environment for that, so we give back,” said Don Crites, a Quest for Eco-Efficiency team leader for Fairmount Minerals.
The company makes up for taking away from the environment by replacing it with a positive impact. For example, the company measures the amount of greenhouse gas emissions is produces through its mining work and plants trees to balance it out.
Fairmount Minerals estimates it will plant 100,000 trees by the end of the year, according to Lisa Six, Michigan regional sustainable development coordinator.
“We plan to have zero waste by 2015 company-wide, worldwide,” she said.
Science students from Michigan City High School also volunteered to work on this project. Tuesday morning, the students began replanting beach grass that was already harvested by city workers. Students will also be replanting today and Thursday.
MCHS science teacher, Andrew Jasicki, had the idea to involve the students in this project after seeing pictures of the first stage of the restoration process. Jasicki approached the park board to discuss the student involvement.
“We wanted to come together and work on this by having the kids come down and be part of the experiment here,” Jasicki said.
Jasicki’s vision is to one day have elementary school students visit the area with high school students chaperoning and teaching them about the area.
“I would like to use this as an environmental learning center, an outdoor classroom,” he said.
The new beach grass was harvested from a facility where the city stores the sand removed from the Washington Park parking lot. Because this sand contains beach grass seeds, beach grass has grown at this site over the years.
The city was able to save money by using this grass for the Fedder’s Alley project.
According to Frank Seilheimer, Michigan City urban forester, the beach grass would have cost the city approximately three to five cents per stem if it were to be purchased.
By Jessica O’Brien
News Dispatch Staff Writer
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