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Cook County YMCA Day Campers involved with creating new book with the Minnesota Children's Press in two summer projects

Jun 26, 2023 05:21AM ● By Content Editor

Image: Minnesota Children's Press

From the Minnesota Children's Press - June 23, 2023

With generous support from the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids and the Library Friends of Cook County, Minnesota Children’s Press launches two summer-long projects to engage Cook County YMCA Day Camp children in active, outdoor, environmental learning with water-quality scientists from the Science Museum of Minnesota. 

Love Letters to Lake Superior

One project involves the Cook County YMCA Day Campers writing expository advocacy letters addressed to media editorial pages, elected officials, environmental groups, 4H, and other community clubs, as well as friends, family members, and worship groups, as a means of civic participation in environmental stewardship.  

Called “Love Letters to Lake Superior”, the project features scientists from the Science Museum of Minnesota who were onsite in Grand Marais on Wednesday, June 21 working YMCA Day Camp kids. 

Armed with scientific knowledge of the lake’s water quality and the threats posed to it, the children will write love letters to Lake Superior that aim to engage and educate people of all ages as they advocate ways for protecting Lake Superior ecosystems from environmental harm.  

In particular, they will raise awareness about an emerging threat to Lake Superior from a microscopic organism, a diatom known scientifically as Didymosphenia geminate– “didymo” for short (but its common nickname is much more appealing to children: “rock snot"). Science Museum of Minnesota specialists are world authorities in didymo and are mapping its density, spread, and effects on lake life. 

Jolly Ologies

The second project involves YMCA Day Campers using the scientific knowledge gained from their Lake Superior Love Letters as a springboard for something called Jolly Ologies. 

The end product will be a public education book on didymo, as well as many other scientific  aspects of the lake’s environment that are scientific disciplines that all end with the  syllables “-ologies.” 

This second project will meet a goal of the Library Friends of Cook County: offering active, outdoor, environmental education that encourages reading and writing. 

Explains Minnesota Children’s Press Anne Brataas: “Among the Lake Superior science -ologies children will learn about are: limnology, ichthyology malacology, aquatic entomology, zoology, microbiology, palynology, bryology, geology, glaciology, climatology, rheology, mycology,  phycology. 

It's fun for kids to experience science outdoors, especially by Lake Superior, and we’ll have a tour of many of the -ologies I studied in graduate school. Our end product will be a child-authored and child-illustrated book on it."

About Minnesota Children’s Press 

Minnesota Children’s Press (MCP ) is an award-winning Grand Marais-based 501(c) (3) charity that mentors rural children in researching writing, illustrating, publishing and selling books through its Story Scouts publishing club and Its goal is to develop and  preserve young children’s inborn creativity and communication abilities without screens while also raising funds that improve local child culture. Since MCP began in  2020, it has mentored approximately 160 Cook County youth through programs in  schools, afterschool workshops and in the summers through Cook County YMCA Day Camp to create books and newspapers. It its prototype publishing club in 2017- 19–then called Boreal Corps–children distinguished themselves by developing  impactful public health messaging campaigns against vaping. 

About Blandin’s Leadership Boost Grants 

This genre of grant was launched to encourage Minnesotans living in rural and Tribal communities to be visionary and creative as they move their communities forward after two years of snowballing challenges. 

More than 300 Letters of Interest were submitted for funding, far more than anticipated. Based on the type of requests received, Blandin Foundation opened three grant rounds for Community Planning, Capital Projects in small towns under 3,000 people, and Creative Placemaking. To better support the many strong requests, the total amount of funding available increased from $1 million to $5.5 million after Blandin Foundation’s board approved an additional $3 million in June  and a $1.5 million grant was secured from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies.  

“Rural and Tribal places simply don’t get their fair share of funding and  resources,” said Merrild. “When we see stats like only 5 percent of philanthropic  dollars and 10 percent of federal small business loan funds go to rural, this creates  resource roadblocks to future opportunity. While the leaky pipes intended to bring resources into rural communities need a complete overhaul, Leadership Boost Grants are one way we can spark energy and action toward sustainable rural futures.” To see other Rural Boost projects, visit

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