Kayaking around Superior

From+left+to+right%2C+seniors+fisheries+and+wildlife+management+major+Karol+Rajski%2C+environmental+science+major+Jared+VanOordt%2C+digital+cinema+major+Ryan+Busch+and+NMU+alumnus+Drew+Etling+will+kayak+around+Lake+Superior+this+summer+to+raise+awareness+about+fresh+water+conservation+and+to+engage+communities.%0APhoto+courtesy+of+Jared+VanOordt

From left to right, seniors fisheries and wildlife management major Karol Rajski, environmental science major Jared VanOordt, digital cinema major Ryan Busch and NMU alumnus Drew Etling will kayak around Lake Superior this summer to raise awareness about fresh water conservation and to engage communities. Photo courtesy of Jared VanOordt

Kara Toay

Paddles will slice through the frigid waters of Lake Superior, propelling three current NMU students and one NMU alum through the water as they embark on a journey around the lake to bring awareness to water conservation.

Senior environmental science major Jared VanOordt, senior digital cinema major Ryan Busch, senior fisheries and wildlife management major Karol Rajski and alumnus Drew Etling, all part of the group “Four The Water,” will take to the water on the shores of Marquette on May 16 to travel around Lake Superior for the summer, camping on beaches, in between rocks or trees,
VanOordt said.

“We’ve been guides at Pictured Rocks the last few years… It was pretty natural for us to want to do it,” VanOordt said. “The lake connects so many people, and we wanted to elaborate on that and connect everyone.”

The name Four The Water came from their passion for the water and the Great Lakes and the fact there are four team members, VanOort added.

The idea started at the end of last summer, while they were kayaking on the lake. They wanted to figure out a way to get more people involved, and started collaborating with The Watershed, a nonprofit organization that helps conservation and public education projects, and they talked with professors on ideas of what to do, Busch said.

He said each team member contributes something special to the group.

“We all have different aspects to the team,” Busch said.

The team members all come from places around the Great Lakes, and this made them appreciate the bodies of water, Busch explained. The group wants to inspire people who haven’t experienced the lakes to connect with them more, since 20 percent of the world’s fresh water is found in the Great Lakes, and others are trying to take advantage of that fresh water, he said. The need for water conservation is increasing continually, and raising awareness about it and how it relates to the Great Lakes is important, Busch added.

“Countries all over the world are in these water crises right now… even California residents are in this struggle right now… so we just have to learn how we can control our substance and our use of it in a proper way and not take advantage of it,” Busch said. “We are so fortunate on where we are living currently.”

The group will be documenting their trip by getting as much video footage as possible and also by meeting with as many people as possible, including talking to conservation officers and kids, hosting beach clean ups, Rajski said. The trip will take all summer, with a cap of 100 days.

“It’s been done before, but not with what we’re envisioning doing by meeting with people and getting communities involved,” Rajski said.

Rajski added that there are contacts lined up to talk to, and they hope to promote when they will be in town depending on weather and their time schedule.

VanOordt added that they want to also learn about other people’s experiences and relationships with the lake as well as share their own.

“That’s the biggest thing, next to staying alive, is bringing everyone together,” he said.

He is also hoping to start researching for his capstone project while on the trip.

“I thought, what better way to get ready for that than do some research while we go around?” VanOordt said.

The group has reached out to big companies for paddling equipment and other supplies, and also have a lot of small businesses, including The Marq, Down Wind Sports, Cafe Allenatore and Paddling Michigan, in addition to asking family and friends,
Rajski said.

“We’ve been fortunate to make a lot of great connections,”
Rajski said.

Their send-off party will be on May 11 at Black Rocks, and all proceeds from the event will be going to Superior Watershed.

“Come on by, drink a beer and talk to us,” VanOordt said.