Discovering PLACE is hosting a teacher professional development opportunity with Michigan Technical University to focus on Water Education!

Brian Doughty, Outdoor Science Investigation Field Trip Program Coordinator, will lead participants through a demonstration of the Flint Portal. During this session, participants will receive four activity kits to use with their students. Joan Chadde, the director of Michigan Tech Center for Science & Environmental Outreach will demonstrate how to successfully use these kits with your students. These kits will allow educators and their students to learn more about the Watershed, their drinking water, and the wastewater treatment process.



University of Michigan-Flint Northbank Center (432 N. Saginaw St. Flint, MI 48502)

Innovation Incubator (Suite 207 on the 2nd floor) Visit for driving directions


Monday, November 20, 2017

4PM – 8PM

If you have a laptop available to you, you may want to bring it to this session. Dinner will be provided. Registration is required to attend this event. Please click HERE for the online registration form. There will be a question and answer session after the presentations.

Discovering Place encourages our partners to engage in place based education around the entire region. Below is a link to an article about a class of Bendle High School students who visited UM-Flint’s campus to learn how they can contribute to the recovery efforts and better understand how it is affecting residents.

Read about Bendle High School students’ visit to UM-Flint to see how they can help with the water crisis.

On Nov. 19, one day before the first snow storm of the season, 33 students put on gloves and picked up shovels to begin work on a duck habitat behind Flint Southwestern High School.

The 7th through 12th graders, which included a group with special needs students, cleaned up trash and dug out grass to prepare the site for the upcoming spring. The 150’ x 20’ site, began as little more than a circle of overgrown grass but as Guy, an 11th grader, explained, the students dug holes so that snow would accumulate over the winter and be retained as water for the ducks next season. He said they wanted the ducks to have a permanent home.

cp dirt

photo: Lindsay Stoddard

Families of ducks have been nesting in the high school’s interior courtyard. Previously, the students created a habitat in the courtyard for the ducks but the space is too small to nest in so it led to problems. Linda Heck and Kim Hatfield are the two teachers which have been leading these place based education projects with their students. Ducks can have up to 12 chicks at a time and over the last few years, Kim and her mother have had to transport the ducks out of the courtyard to a nearby river, one family at a time.

Read More →

Boys and Girls Club members have spent the last few weeks learning about environmental issues and careers in resource sciences through a DNR Summer Youth Employment Initiative with UM-Flint University Outreach.

The third week of the program included two site visits, one to the UM-Flint Urban Alternatives House (UAH) and another to the city of Flint master planning office downtown. Students were welcomed by four UM-Flint professors from the Earth and Resource Sciences department in the classroom space of the UAH on Eddy Street. The Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED)- certified house was converted from a derelict house in the Central Park neighborhood, just east of campus.

Dr. Martin Kaufman told the Boys and Girls Club members about Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which is multi-layered mapping software. Kaufman said that GIS is one of 3 emerging technologies and career paths that will become very important in the next century.

Read More →

More than 25 young people from the Boys and Girls Club are spending a portion of their Summer learning about environmental issues and careers in resource sciences through UM-Flint’s University Outreach.

The group of 16 to 19 year olds is being paid through the DNR’s Summer Youth Employment Initiative to learn about issues, such as recycling and watershed quality, through a series of lectures, activities and field trips. These students are leaders at the local Boys and Girls Club and will share their knowledge and activities they learn with younger members.

One day a week, the group has been meeting on the university campus with University Outreach staff members, who lead the program.

In its first week, Program Coordinators Leyla Sankar and Sara McDonnell asked the students what they would like to learn about during their visits. The young people responded that they were interested in local recycling, the city of Flint’s current master planning process and a host of other issues.

Read More →

It was bright, sunny and one of those rare 35 degree Michigan winter days. It had the makings of a great day, and a great day it was.

We had once again been invited by our friends at Kings Karate Harvesting Earth Educational Farm to do some hard manual labor but also have fun. Arriving in greenhouse number two we swept up hay and dirt before our host arrived. It was an easy, simple job, but surprisingly a very dusty one.

Photo: Charles Simon

Photo: Charles Simon

photo: Charles Simon

photo: Charles Simon

When we finished we were covered in dirt and hay filled-dust. We learned two things: we were not properly dressed and dust tastes horrible.

We completed our first task and soon after were greeted by University of Michigan-Flint students, who we quickly became friends with, and our host Dora King. It only took five minutes before Dora had us deep in dirt and snow. It was during this time that work turned into fun and fun turned into long lasting friendships.

The work done by seven Beecher High School students and nine UM-Flint students never did feel like work. We moved old gardening tools and utensils. We raked, tilled, and made months of old soil ready for planting. Some of us even shoveled snow.

Read More →

photo: Charles Simon

photo: Charles Simon

On a cold and cloudy Monday morning, twenty students from Beecher’s Ninth Grade Academy and five chaperones boarded a bus to the East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC) headquarters in Detroit, MI. These students, all ninth graders, took their first steps in becoming instruments of social change in the Beecher community. The bus drive was filled with teenage laughter, but also curious minds.

Through the University of Michigan-Flint University Outreach’s Discovering Place program, Beecher students have been beautifying their school grounds and becoming more environmentally active. With place-and-community-based education students are stepping away from traditional text-book instruction to become more socially involved in the Beecher community. Having had the opportunity to tackle social issues relative to their community, this was a trip to show them they are not alone in their endeavors and to think big even in small places.

When we arrived at EMEAC, we were greeted by Sonya Green or “Mama Sanaa” as she instructed us to call her. We followed her down hallways, through wide open rooms, and up several flights of stairs until we reached a small green, blue and yellow room. This storage room turned classroom, it was revealed to us, had never been used until now. These Beecher students had left their first mark.

Read More →

photo: Charles Simon

photo: Charles Simon

Snow underneath our boots and sneakers, gusty winds piercing through our layered clothing, and nineteen degree weather sounds intimidating to most. Not for nineteen Beecher Ninth Grade Academy students; it was their playground.

For several weeks these students had been exposed to various elements surrounding social and community engagement. King’s Karate Harvesting Earth Educational Farm was looking for young minds to assist in preparing their greenhouses for the winter season. These Discovering Place students, whom are sponsored by the University of Michigan – Flint Outreach office, heard the call and immediately took arms to help.

Inside greenhouse number two we were greeted by Master Dora King. We listened intently to instruction, and sipped on delicious homemade hot cocoa. With nineteen students and several adults we divided into three groups. Group one stayed inside to learn about compost and to spread it across the numerous vegetable gardens. Group two and three on the other hand were stationed outside.
These two groups braved the cold conditions to engage in: picking up trash, moving bundles of corn stalks, stacking wheel barrels, lumber and so much more. Master King’s husband, Grandmaster Jackie King, provided one impressive outside fire to warm up our bodies. It became evidently clear manual labor and cold weather was a non-issue.

Read More →

It didn’t matter to Patty Hillaker that her science students went to an alternative high school, she wanted to give them hope and the best education possible.

Hillaker, an UM-Flint alumni, was inspired by the place-based education and grant writing training she received through the Discovering PLACE hub of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative to develop her own project for Beecher’s Riley Adult/Alternative Education Center. She called her program, Project E.a.r.t.h., which stands for Environmental awareness reaching teen homes.

Over several years, Hillaker was able to bring a series of projects and experiences to her students that taught them about their larger connections to the natural world.

This project consisted of planting raised gardens, an urban bird study, salmon in the classroom, bottle cap murals, school clean ups, clothing and book drives, and year-round recycling of batteries, paper, ink cartridges, glass and bottle caps.

In addition, Hillaker’s students did an audit of the school’s energy consumption and asked what they could do to cut energy costs.

Read More →

The Fall 2012 issue of Flint Currents highlights the dedication and enthusiasm of two dynamic Discovering Place community partners, Dyanna Mitchell and Earma Cooper, and their work with teacher Shelly Roberts and Beecher’s Tucker Elementary school courtyard garden.

Cooper and Mitchell are among the Beecher Community Development Council members working for the local good.  They also belong to the Dailey Nolan Neighborhood Association, the Clean and Green program to maintain Genesee County Land Bank properties and a community garden.

Flint Currents also features Southwestern Academy teacher Linda Heck, who is working with her students to create an accessible outdoor classroom and garden where students with special needs can work with their fellow students on projects.

Heck’s love of science is the reason she started teaching, but she cites her life experience and expertise as the source of the compassion and practical wisdom that she shares with her students.

Flint Currents is a publication of Discovering Place, a regional hub of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative facilitated by University Outreach at the University of Michigan-Flint.