This past week I had the honor of taking part in a collaborative program here in Michigan City called Trail Creek Week. This program is a yearly event put on by the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District and organized by their Education Coordinator Nicole Messacar. The purpose of this program is to teach roughly 800 4th-8th grade students from local schools about Trail Creek. The subjects covered within the day camp include Water Quality, History, Canoe and Kayak Safety, as well as a portion on the different types of wildlife in Trail Creek. Students also get to canoe on Trail Creek as part of the experience.
Barker Mansion was lucky enough to have been invited for the past three years to teach the History of Trail Creek and Michigan City. We focus mainly on the what Michigan City was like between 1676-1900. Although the area has a deeper, richer history that occurred both before and after this period, we chose a 300 year period because presenters are able to give students better interpretive programs within the allotted 30 minutes than if we covered the area’s entire history. In addition to a lecture, we show photographs to the students and encourage them handle animal furs provided by other departments. Our presentation covers information that most students are not taught within the classroom. Every teacher is given a worksheet for the students to complete when they return to school.
Trail Creek Week is not only a fun time for the students, but also for the presenters. This was my third year participating and I enjoy it every time. As an interpreter, Trail Creek Week can be an exhausting and challenging week that takes you out of your normal element of teaching. My involvement allowed me to think critically and approach interpretation in new ways as these students expand their knowledge about conservation and the preservation of the area. This is a program that gets students outside learning using all of their senses in a way that cannot be duplicated within a classroom. Each station of presenters offers new and exciting ways to grasp the history of the Trail Creek area and its importance in Michigan City.
Below are article links for those interested in reading further about both Trail Creek and Trail Creek Week.
Jackie Perkins, Heritage Interpreter