Adventures with the North Star Collaborative and the Alliance for the Great Lakes

Aug 07 2013

Last week, the Sea Dragon crew were honored to have some very special guests on board- a special group of girls who are being prepared to become the future leaders of their city.

The beautiful face of the North Star Collaborative

The beautiful face of the North Star Collaborative

On July 31, August 1st and August 2nd, we were joined by girls from the  North Star Collaborative. The North Star program is unique partnership between the Laurel School and Warner Girls Leadership Academy, based out of Cleveland, Ohio. The mission of the North Star initiative is to inspire each girl to fulfill her promise in life, and to better the world through their contribution to society.

The girls were great at the helm!

The girls were great at the helm!

Girls who take part in the North Star Collaborative are mentored not just over one summer or semester, but throughout their formative years of education. The program works to ensure that the students are mentored and guided on entire path to obtaining a four year college degree.

The girls take a look at the results of a microplastics polltuion trawl.

The girls take a look at the results of a microplastics polltuion trawl.

Through their programming both in the summer months and throughout the school year, the Collaborative creates opportunities for young women to become more aware of possible career options for their future. This summer, the North Star  girls  have had opportunities to visit both NASA and the International Women’s Air and Space Museum to learn about careers in science.

Captain Eric Loss gives a new group of North Star girls a safety briefing.

Captain Eric Loss gives a new group of North Star girls a safety briefing.

North Star Collaborative’s Director, Holly Fidler, approached Pangaea to create an opportunity for her students to experience freshwater research first hand.

As you are probably aware, the crew of Sea Dragon have been collecting research on plastics pollution, water quality and chemical contaminants in the Great Lakes ecosystem this summer, while trying to establish a connection between issues seen in the Great Lakes, and those found in ocean waters. We were more than happy to have the girls of the North Star Collaborative come on board with us to help us collect research.

For three beautiful days, groups of up to 13 students joined us for a couple of hours of adventure and research on  Lake Erie.  This was the first sailing experience for many of the young women on board, and for some it was their first experience on a boat of any kind. The girls were a little nervous at first, but under the direction of Captain Eric Loss and first mate Shanley McEntee, the girls adapted quickly to life on board.

The girls working to together to set our manta trawl, used to collect plastic pollution samples.

The girls working to together to set our manta trawl, used to collect plastic pollution samples.

While some of the North Star students were busy sailing on Sea Dragon, there were other conservation and research activities going on on shore. The Alliance of the Great Lakes, a local organization dedicated to appreciating and protecting the waters of the Great Lakes for the future, provided the rest of the North Star students with an opportunity to take part in the Adopt A Beach program.

The girls of the North Star Collaborative at Edgewater Beach!

The girls of the North Star Collaborative at Edgewater Beach!

Hyle Lowry, the outreach coordinator for the Ohio chapter of the Alliance, collaborated with Holly Fidler to prepare a day’s worth of beach clean up and research activities at Edgewater Beach.

North Star students conducting tests on lake water and air temperature at the beach

North Star students conducting tests on lake water and air temperature at the beach

The girls learned how to conduct a health assessment on the beach itself, and collected samples and data to investigate bacteria levels in lake water. Once their research was complete, the girls worked hard to remove as much debris from the shoreline as possible.

North Star Collaborative students taking a water sample.

North Star Collaborative students taking a water sample.

The Adopt a Beach program is also designed so that once a beach clean up is complete, you can enter the information into a database, and keep track of the improvements to the water quality over time!

The girls having fun in the sand during a break.

The girls having fun in the sand during a break.

We really enjoyed our experience with Holly, Hyle  and the girls of the North Star Collaboarative, and can’t thank the Alliance for the Great Lakes enough for their continued support and enthusiasm. This experience was an incredibly positive part of our research and mission with the One Water Story.  We hope to see the girls out on the water one day soon in their future careers!

Hyle Lowry and Holly Fidler together at the beach. Thank you so much for your hard work, ladies!

Hyle Lowry and Holly Fidler together at the beach. Thank you so much for your hard work, ladies!