Since 1993 the CLWA and its predecessor organizations have sponsored a hands-on environmental education program, the Crystal Lake Walkabout. Now held annually in the fall for 6th grade students from the Frankfort-Elberta Area and Benzie Central public schools, the day-long event brings students together with expert interpreters at several different natural settings in the Crystal Lake watershed. They explore the diverse ecologies of the area and learn to be responsible stewards of the rich environment that surrounds their community.
Topics currently receiving particular focus include: invasive species and the need for boat washing; controlling the lake level to prevent erosion; the biological cycle that causes swimmer’s itch in Michigan lakes; testing lake water for nutrients, chemicals and contamination; and safety while on and in the water. Various governmental and non-profit organizations generously provide expertise. Instructional materials are continually revised and updated.
Over the years, Walkabout opportunities have also been offered to families and groups of residents and seasonal visitors. Nearly 6,000 individuals have participated to date.
The Crystal Lake Walkabout represents a vibrant collaboration among teachers, school administrators, local organizations, numerous volunteers – and most important, the enthusiastic students – to increase knowledge and appreciation of the unique and special resources that surround Crystal Lake.