This article was featured in the 2021 Summer Newsletter, contributed by Sarah Trick-IRLC.
Project WHIRL is an annual summer program for teens hosted by the Indian River Lakes Conservancy. This acronym stands for: Protectors of Water and Habitat in the Indian River Lakes. This year, their program has expanded allowing for two cohorts, one consisting of Indian River students participating for a high school physical science credit, and a second for students from five local districts who will meet each week to learn about watershed management, aquatic resources education, and invasive species management.
Both groups are partnering with Clarkston University on a study evaluating five Indian River Lakes for milfoil weevil suitability. Milfoil weevils are a small beetle-like organism that spend a majority of their lifecycle on, or within, milfoil plants. There have been multiple successful case studies from across the U.S. of weevil stocking as a form of milfoil control.
Teens involved in this program will work with volunteers and staff from Clarkston University evaluating shoreline habitat, lake area, milfoil abundance, and Secchi depth readings, among other factors.
Their learning will culminate with local presentations to interested community members along with student presentations at Clarkston University’s field station in Norwood. Student’s findings will be used in the university’s weevil studies and will help inform lake associations.