This is Why... Gail Burghardt, Linderman Elementary
Educating for Flathead's Future
Voices of Our Volunteers - LaDana Hintz

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Help Keep Flathead Lake Clean!
VIDEO: Listen to the hum of excitement and curiosity as third graders from Polson discover caddis flies, mayflies, stoneflies, snails, and other macroinvertebrates at the Flathead Lake Biological Station.
Life Under the Microscopes
This is Why...
    For the past 24 years, I have taught third and fourth grade students. My main focus has been to help each child to formulate questions about the world they live in, to introduce resources, teach research skills, and inspire students to keep their questioning minds, so they will maintain the desire to find answers and solutions to questions and problems as they arise.  It is my quest to help them reach their highest academic potential. I have found the integration of place-based education essential to my teaching pedagogy. 

I have always begun our unit on our watershed with the question, "What is a watershed?" A repeated, predictable answer is, "A watershed is a shed that holds water."  When we go on to explore the nature of water, its properties, uses, and importance, a world of questions invariably follows. My students are hooked from the get go!

As we explore the story and map, The Watershed Journey, students are fascinated by the history of this place which they call home. Their growing connection to the place where they live comes alive. It is amazing to observe the way they formulate a new view of how they can be a part of protecting the watershed and all of its inhabitants. They see themselves as an important part of the community and develop a commitment to protect the land that they once may have taken for granted.

This place-based unit differs from conventional text and classroom-based education in that it understands students' local community as one of the primary resources for learning. It is rooted in what is local; the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature and art of where we live. Right before my eyes they become stewards of their environment.  Learning becomes much more than just words on a page. It is water moving around their bodies. It is animals they see and touch each day. It is the sound of the rustling leaves while taking a nature walk. It is all of these sensory dimensions in the world they are a part of.

As they help collect aquatic insects from a cold healthy stream, identify them under a microscope, learn about native species, and about species that have been introduced by man causing unexpected changes in the environment, they become aware, hopeful, and find purpose in understanding at a much deeper level. They learn to take care of the world by understanding where they live and by taking action in their own backyards.

You ask me why?  The benefits for my students have been enormous and ongoing.  They leave with a sense of place, and their place in it. They become a part of something with a rich and meaningful history, and purposeful in maintaining it for the future.

... I have passionately supported the Flathead Lakers' 'Becoming Watershed Citizens' program for the past two decades.
                   –Gail Burghardt, Linderman Elementary School
Silly faces with Gail Burghardt and her 2015 third grade class at the Flathead Lake Biological Station!  

The Flathead Lakers honored Gail at our Annual Meeting on July 27 for her years of dedication to our watershed education program.  Her support and passion, along with her colleagues, have ensured the success and longevity of this program, as well as nurtured scores of passionate watershed citizens!
Educating for Flathead's Future

I would like to sincerely thank everyone involved in helping make the field trips this year such a wonderful success!  The field trips are a celebration of our community.  Our volunteers are from all around the lake, like the kids, and their enthusiasm adds so much to this experience.  The Flathead Lake Biological Station each year graciously allows us to take over the station for a few days at no charge, brings out equipment to use, helps plan for rainy weather, and so much more.  They provide wonderful facilities, grounds, and infrastructure to put on field trips that will leave a lasting impression on the kids living around the watershed.

It takes a community to put these field trips on, but also pay for them.  We are able to provide these field trips to the schools at no cost because of our members’ generous support, as well as fundraisers like the Poker Paddle that are well-supported by the community.

Education is fundamental in our work for clean water, healthy ecosystems, and lasting quality of life in the watershed.  We have helped engage thousands of students in learning about their home watershed, understanding that they will be its future citizens and guardians.

Hilary Devlin
Education and Outreach Coordinator

Voices of Our Volunteers
LaDana Hintz
Living a busy and active life, I know I have limited time to volunteer. I tend to look for volunteer opportunities where I can do what I love and share my skills with others. Since I love to be outdoors, it is no wonder that I tend to gravitate toward projects that deal with the natural world.

When I was approached by the Flathead Lakers to help with my first ‘Becoming Watershed Citizens’ field trip, I was both excited and scared. Of course I wanted to help, but I was apprehensive because I wasn’t sure I had enough skills and knowledge to offer. The main question running through my mind was how would I ever get hundreds of kids engaged and show them that they needed to care about water and their environment. This seemed like a mighty daunting task for a newbie volunteer to tackle.

I had one goal for field trip day. I wanted to plant one seed of knowledge about water and the environment within each student. My hope was that once that seed was planted, it would be watered and nourished throughout the day and then as it began to grow, hopefully the students would share it with others.

It only took one class of excited, curious third graders to get me engaged. I started by teaching them the basics about water and bugs (aka invertebrates) and before I knew it, they had tons of questions and even many of the answers. I knew that before the day was over, the students would be teaching me much more than I would teach them. Boy was I right! Groups of students rotated through the lab, and each time more seeds of knowledge were planted and I learned even more.

I have to admit that the saddest part of the day was seeing all the full buses leaving the parking lot and feeling the energy level die down. As I cleaned the lab one last time that day, I reflected on how much fun I had teaching the kids. It was at that point that I knew was hooked, and that I definitely would be coming back again the following year.

Run for Clean Water and Support the Flathead Lakers! 
August 20 at Volunteer Park, Lakeside
Check-in 9 am / Race start 10 am

Register here

Science on Tap-Flathead

The Flathead Lakers, Flathead Lake Biological Station, and Flathead Lake Brewing Company present Science on Tap-Flathead, to begin a conversation with our community, to present science in a fun and approachable way, and to communicate and share together our love and respect for this incredible place we live. 
Check out: for a schedule and archived videos of past events. 
Site Visits
Have you wondered what you can do around your property to be more ‘lake-friendly’?  Are you interested in learning about best management practices (BMPs) that would lessen your impact on the lake? 

Schedule a free site visit today. Site visits can be done any time of the year without snow and on weekends with advanced notice.
Contact Hilary Devlin, Education and Outreach Coordinator at 883-1341 or 
  • Volunteer advocacy groups
  • Adopt a Highway Clean-Up - TBD September
  • Riparian buffer weeding and maintenance - various dates (
  • Individual projects centered around your talents
  • Many more ways to volunteer, contact Hilary Devlin at 883-1341 or (
Copyright ©2016 Flathead Lakers, All rights reserved.

Thank you for your support for the Flathead Lakers and our work to protect Flathead Lake
and clean water in its watershed.

Flathead Lakers

PO Box 70, Polson, MT 59860  (406) 883-1346

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