Student Paddles


Michigan 8th Graders to Stand-Up-Paddleboard 
50 Miles of the St. Mary’s River to Raise Funds for

Great Lakes Preservation

Elk Rapids, MI– On May 1, 2021, three 8th grade students from Cherryland Middle School in Elk Rapids plan to stand-up-paddleboard the treacherous St. Mary’s River. 

Owen Werner, Max Ward and Jamie Peters will begin at the Soo Locks and end on their 50-mile journey on Drummond Island.  Along the way, the students will encounter 600’ freighters which create dangerously large wakes. The water will be bone-chilling cold at about 36 degrees and there may even be ice floating down the river. 

The trio plans on paddling this with Kwin Morris, their science teacher and co-founder of Stand Up for Great Lakes. Kwin has paddled 4 of the 5 Great Lakes with fellow co-founders Joe Lorenz and Jeff Guy. They will be accompanied by a safety boat with an EMT on board. Each paddler will be outfitted in dry suits and PFDs. (personal flotation devices).

The men are paddling to raise funds and to raise awareness of the increasing levels of plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. All funds will be donated to Stand Up For Great Lakes, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes Basin.

“I fish these waters with my buddies, swim, boat, ski in them and much more,” said Jamie Peters. “They are a big part of my life and the lives of thousands and thousands more.”

“My goal is to inspire people around the Great Lakes to stand up for them,” added Max Ward. “The Great Lakes are crucial to the lives of every living thing in and around the lakes.”

“The lakes represent 84% of North America’s fresh water supply,” says Owen Werner. “My concern is that plastic particles as small as a pin head are getting into fish and damaging the habitat as well. Over 20 million pounds of plastic ends up in the lakes each year, and those numbers will only continue to grow.”

One of our main goals is to show that our youth can take on challenges way bigger than they first imagined.

Kadin Patterson and Gordie Lafontaine, both 14, will embark on a 5-mile odyssey across the water in the next few weeks for several reasons, they said, including to call attention to Enbridge’s Line 5 fuel pipeline under the Straits and raise money for Stand Up for Great Lakes, a nonprofit that advocates for the natural resource.

ELK RAPIDS — Saturday has been a moment in the making for eight months for Paige Peters and Sophia Christian.

The eighth-grade duo from Cherryland Middle School in Elk Rapids will take to the waters of Lake Michigan as they cross the Straits of Mackinac on their paddleboards to raise awareness about protecting the Great Lakes. They plan on paddling the 5 miles from St. Ignace to Mackinaw City with tailing safety boats and an EMT.

“We’re both very passionate about protecting the Great Lakes,” Peters said. “We’re safe, and it’s actually quite fun. We have drysuits on. We’re strapped to our boards. We have PFDs (personal flotation devices). So we can jump into the water, and the only thing we’ll feel is a little cold. We won’t get wet at all.”

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