Lesson in the Lake: Students Remove Invasive Species

Middle school students at Mount Madonna School combined a hands-on science lesson with a chance to cool off during last week’s hot weather, by wading and swimming in the School’s lake and removing – handful by handful – the abundant elodea that thrives there. Elodea, an invasive aquatic plant often used in aquariums is damaging to the lake’s ecology when left to grow unchecked.

About two dozen students helped with the effort, piling up numerous large mounds of elodea on the shore to later be hauled off to the compost pile! Overseeing the effort was middle school math and science teacher James ‘PD’ Rohan, who explains the motivation for his students’ participation:

“Invasive species can be detrimental to the life of native species in many ways,” says Rohan. “For our lake habitat the elodea crowds out native grasses, such as tulle, and other wetland plants such as cattails; and burrows deep into the lake bottom where they spread out, reducing the habitat range of fish, frogs, and newts. Eventually, if left unchecked, they can cause the lake to dry up completely (as is happening, for example, at nearby Freedom Lake in Watsonville, where invasive water hyacinth has fully covered the lake’s surface).

“Students learned about the topic, enjoyed the activity and had a few minutes for ‘free swim’ afterwards.”



Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, Marketing & Communications Manager 


Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville.