General Motors Company

Grand Rapids

Wyoming, Michigan, United States

Certified through 2022

Project Name
Project Type
Teach for the Watershed (T4W)
Formal Learning
About the Program
The General Motors Grand Rapids facility is located in Wyoming, MI approximately 3 miles southwest of Grand Rapids. Eight different automotive engine components are made there. The site is located along Plaster Creek, named for the gypsum mined in the area for over 50 years beginning in the late 1850s. Several rare species of plants are present in the Plaster Creek watershed including pawpaw, bladdernut, green dragon, redbud and blue cohosh. The Plaster Creek corridor is also home to turkey, deer, red fox, muskrat, mink, crayfish, heron and trout. The creek is additionally a spawning site for salmon, but due to the disrupted nature of the area, water quality in the Plaster Creek Watershed suffers from a variety of sources including excessive sediment, thermal pollution and invasive species. To address this, 11 acres of the 58-square-mile watershed are used to deliver GMCH's education project to elementary students. The team's mission is to engage the community, inspiring them to actively protect the local watersheds.

Practices and Impacts
  • The education project began teaching students in 2013, using the Teach for Watershed (T4W) program developed by the site's local community partner West Michigan Environmental Action Council. The T4W program aligns with General Motors' corporate sustainability GREEN program designed to inspire children to take actions now to protect the future of watersheds.
  • Using the Enviroscape Watershed/Nonpoint Source model, third through fifth graders are provided with an introduction to watersheds in their classroom. They then apply what was learned in the classroom at an 11-acre habitat bordering Plaster Creek. This allows the students to see the effects of water quality on the local ecosystem.
  • The team provides students with a fill-in journal and visual aids designed for third and fourth graders.
  • In the field, learners are provided with equipment and tools to support creek water studies including gloves, hip boots, nets, buckets, sampling keys, lab trays, forceps, sample jars, magnifying glasses, microscopes, petri dishes, thermometers, monitoring kit testing supplies, test tubes, Secchi disks and containers for turbidity measurement, and trash bags.
  • In the field, students are asked to recall concepts presented during the classroom session.
  • Formal feedback is administered and recorded. Pre- and post-tests are given to the 4th grade students and results are documented.
  • The logistics of the project are reviewed and debriefed. An online survey is completed by the team following the field activities. The completed forms are reviewed by the lead coordinator and the results are compiled for the subsequent year's planning session. Areas of improvement are noted during the evaluations for the field activities.