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‘It’s a great resource’ — LaGrange College students take to floating classroom

Teens learn about lake

By James Morton

jmorton@civitasmedia.com

Henry Jacobs of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper shows LaGrange College students how to test water samples from West Point Lake.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEB082415River1.jpgHenry Jacobs of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper shows LaGrange College students how to test water samples from West Point Lake. James Morton | Daily News

LaGRANGE — Around 20 incoming freshman from LaGrange College toured and tested West Point Lake for about an hour Monday with members of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper organization and its floating classroom.

“It’s a great resource. It’s a great fishery,” said Henry Jacobs, outreach manager for Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. Jacobs went on to emphasize how much of LaGrange’s drinking water comes from the Chattahoochee River that feeds into West Point Lake.

The group took water samples from the lake and tested them for pH, water temperatures and oxygen levels.

“It was cool how it switched colors,” 18-year-old Tyshon Fentress said about taking pH samples from the water.

Of the 20 students, only one had been on West Point Lake before.

“I’ve been living here for 18 years, and I never knew any of it. It’s just nice to know,” said 18-year-old Qua Tucker about the tour.

The floating classroom teaches students from elementary to high school. This was the first group from LaGrange College to be part of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper’s floating classroom.

According to Jacobs, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper was started as a watchdog for the river and to give a voice to a river that was voiceless at the time. Since then, conditions have improved and the focus has switched to teaching people to be good stewards for the river.

The floating classroom was launched in July. The $96,000 project was supported in part by the Callaway Foundation of LaGrange, which gave the riverkeeper a matching grant, according to Jason Ulseth of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper.

The riverkeeper plans to use the 5,500-pound, triple-pontoon craft as an education platform to teach area students, civic groups and other organizations about West Point Lake, according to Jacobs.

“We’re hoping people will learn about West Point Lake in relation to the Chattahoochee River watershed,” he told the Daily News after the classroom launched in July. “We’ll teach about the history of the lake, along with science and math. It’s also a team-building experience.”

Jacobs hopes people will learn more about the lake and become interested in protecting it for future generations.

James Morton is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2154.