By Allie Jarrell
Nine years ago, students from Jeffers High School began working with MNA to restore and maintain the Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary. What began as an ideal spot for field trips has since evolved into numerous community service projects and hands-on learning opportunities for students.
For decades, MTU biology and forestry professors have been using the site, originally called the Lake Perrault Bog, as an opportunity for students to learn about Michigan flora and fauna outside of the classroom. A professor named Robert T. Brown was especially fond of the area and often took his students there. MNA purchased the bog in 2002, and after Robert’s passing in August of that same year, it was renamed the Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary. In 2003, MNA arranged a partnership with Jeffers High School so that students could continue to learn in a unique, outdoor classroom.
During their time in the sanctuary, the young volunteers constructed two boardwalks with viewing platforms, which continue to protect rare flora, such as orchids and some carnivorous plants, from being trampled. Visitors can now enjoy a worry-free stroll from the coniferous forests into the bog area of the sanctuary. In order to carry on with their efforts, Jeffers High School has proposed a grant to receive additional funding so that the sanctuary can be incorporated into the school’s curriculum. This would enable students to continue learning about the needs of the local community while also taking ownership in protecting their home in the Lake Superior watershed.
The MNA partnership with Jeffers High School was recently renewed in order to benefit the students’ learning opportunities as well as the maintenance of the sanctuary. The Jeffers students’ efforts have been appreciated and recognized by MNA and the Michigan DNR for “creating and maintaining these important recreational areas” and “making Lake Perrault a true recreational destination for everyone.”