TAVARES — Students at Altoona School, Inc. were awarded a new interactive learning pond on Feb. 8, courtesy of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environmental Education grant through the Lake County Adopt-a-Lake Program.
The pond was donated by Jerie and Ray Tallman, volunteers with the Adopt-a-Lake Program, as a partnership with the EPA grant. It was installed by Lake County staff members and a student volunteer.
“The pond is designed to provide an interactive area for the students to learn about a lake’s ecosystem on their own campus,” said Cathie Catasus, Water Resource Laboratory supervisor with Lake County’s Public Works Department. “The idea came from an existing pond that is installed at the school that has koi fish and some plants. The new pond was installed to show how a healthy lake system with native plants and animals works.”
Catasus also said the pond was stocked by Lake County staff with small minnows, grass shrimp, water beetles and native plants. A miniature version of a floating wetland vegetation mat has been installed to help with nutrient uptake in the pond. The plants in the floating mat use the nutrients in the water to grow, which in turn removes the excess nutrients from the system.
Through grant funds, the school was provided with a dip net to catch some of the organisms that are part of a healthy lake system. The students will learn how to identify different macro invertebrates, the importance of lake ecosystems and how their families’ activities can affect water quality.
For more information about protecting water quality or the Adopt-a-Lake Program, contact Cathie Catasus at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-253-1686 or visit www.lakecountyfl.gov, keyword search “adopt.”