The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is sponsoring free public cruises on the educational research vessel W.G. Jackson at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on June 10. The vessel is part of Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute and houses an onboard lab for adults and children ages 10 and up to conduct hands-on science experiments.
Cruises will depart from the Port of Indiana's public fishing dock at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. CDT. The registration deadline for the cruises was June 5, but the public may visit the vessel during an open house from 1-1:45 p.m., June 10, at the port.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management coordinated the visit, which is funded by an Environmental Protection Agency Grant for water quality outreach through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The W.G. Jackson's crew leads guests in experiments evaluating the area's water quality during a 90-minute cruise into the open water of Lake Michigan. Visitors gather samples of water and sediment to collect data on pH, oxygen levels and microscopic organisms and learn how to interpret the data.
The visit is part of the W.G. Jackson's annual summer-time "Making Lake Michigan Great" tour, which has brought the vessel to 33 ports of call on the lake since 1998. This is the vessel's first visit to the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor since 2001. The vessel's home port is at the university's Lake Michigan Center in Muskegon, Mich., where it is visited by nearly 5,000 students each year. Since its launch in 1996, the W.G. Jackson has hosted more than 2,700 events, reaching over 65,000 visitors.