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Instead Of Open House, Trout Lake Station Opens Virtual Scavenger Hunt

The UW-Madison Trout Lake research station in Boulder Junction won’t be hosting its popular end-of-summer open house this year.

Instead, it has found a different way to involve the public.

Usually, station open house welcomes hundreds of people to learn about lake research projects.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has forced it to go a different direction.

“We didn’t want to put anything at risk or jeopardize health for folks, so we’ve had an intern lead, she’s been working on it for months this summer, and she’s developed a scavenger hunt. It’s a virtual opportunity,” said station director Gretchen Gerrish.

A virtual app leads people to six different Vilas County lakes to complete interactive tasks and learn about research.

The scavenger hunt opened last Friday. Participants are eligible for free ice cream at the Corner Store in Sayner until Sunday, but the app will stay open into the school year.

“The app was built for the general public, but it’s something that we hope will be used by schools and that we can modify just a little bit to really make it useful, especially if there are students that are still remaining online,” Gerrish said.

Trout Lake Station usually has dozens of people doing lake research on its campus each summer.

But the station has had to get creative this year.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to have the undergraduates in the community this summer, but, like Cassie [Gauthier], who developed the scavenger hunt, we do have a number of undergraduate students involved in research. They’re just all working virtually,” Gerrish said.

The annual open house generally draws hundreds of visitors.

Ben worked as the Special Topics Correspondent at WXPR from September 2019 until November 2021. He now contributes occasionally to WXPR. During his full-time employment, his main focus was reporting on environment and natural resources issues in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula as part of The Stream, a weekly series.
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