News and Events

Megan Dodson Receives 2014 Van Snider Award

Megan Dodson award winner 612px

Megan Dodson (right), meteorologist with the National Weather Service, was awarded the 2014 Van Snider Award by Elizabeth LaPorte (left).

Megan Dodson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, was awarded the 2014 Van Snider Award. Dodson is a leader in coastal hazards outreach and a great partner to Michigan Sea Grant. She is an inspiration to others with her water safety education efforts, participating in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program and other community based committees. She has partnered with Michigan Sea Grant for many years on various dangerous current projects.

Currently, Megan is partnering with MSG on two dangerous currents projects:

  • In 2013, she helped with the agenda and presented at three full-day educational workshops to train park personnel about dangerous currents.
  • Megan, along with Michigan Sea Grant, developed a searchable Great Lakes Current Incident Database. Her ongoing research has determined that structural currents are a significant factor in fatalities in Michigan and the region. This has been a game changer for our outreach efforts.

Our Sea Grant team has come to rely not only on Megan’s expertise, but her enthusiasm for her work.

About the Award

Michigan Sea Grant established the Van Snider Award in 2010. Who is Van Snider? Snider is the former President of the Michigan Boating Industry Association and a long-time partner and friend of Michigan Sea Grant. Through his work, he has exemplified what it means to be a partner — he is considerate, willing to help, diplomatic and a great, all-around resource. The inaugural award was given to Snider and has been given out periodically to recognize individual partners who have gone above and beyond.

Seafood HACCP Training Course – Brimley, Mich.

Event Date: 12/9/2014
End Date: 12/11/2014

Commercial fish processors are encouraged to register for the next Seafood HACCP Certification course, coordinated by Michigan Sea Grant and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in Brimley, Michigan.

See Registration Materials:

The Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) training course will be held December 9-11, 2014 at Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley. The training is coordinated by Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. Fish processors are required to take this training if not currently certified.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) consists of identifying safety hazards, determining where they occur, monitoring these points and recording the results. HACCP involves day-to-day monitoring of critical control points by production employees. The Seafood HACCP regulation that is enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is based on the belief that commercial fish processors can understand the food safety hazards of their products and take reasonable steps to control them. Commercial fish processors are required either to obtain formal training for one or more of their own employees or to hire trained independent contractors to perform the HACCP functions.

The HACCP regulation also requires processors to keep extensive records of processing and sanitation at their facilities.

At times, questions arise as to whether someone needs training in Seafood HACCP. The Seafood HACCP regulation defines processing as handling, storing, preparing, heading, eviscerating, shucking, freezing, changing into different market forms, manufacturing, preserving, packing, labeling, dockside unloading or holding fish or fishery products. The regulation does not apply to the harvest or transport of fishery products. It also does not apply to practices such as heading, eviscerating or freezing intended solely to prepare a fish for holding on a harvest vessel. Retail establishments are also exempt from the Seafood HACCP regulation.

Fish processors who complete the course put themselves at a competitive advantage as they can then produce value-added products such as smoked fish. Those completing the course will receive a Seafood Alliance HACCP Certificate issued through the Association of Food and Drug Officials that is recognized by agencies regulating fish processors.



Michigan’s Recreational Boating Industries Educational Foundation Re-launch Announced

Livonia — The Recreational Boating Industries Educational Foundation (RBIEF) Board of Directors is proud to announce a new direction for the foundation, which was established in 1986 by the Michigan Boating Industries Association. The group’s mission is to advance, promote and protect the recreational marine industry in Michigan.

“In our efforts to advance the industry through our Foundation, we have made a commitment to provide education and support to all of our members,” said RBIEF Director Jim Coburn.  “The new direction of RBIEF is expanded and will offer a wider scope of support and focuses on our members as a true member benefit.”

Specifically, RBIEF’s new purpose is to offer financial assistance through full or matching tuition or registration support for MBIA members, member’s employees, family and students for both industry education and college scholarships.

RBIEF is a highly successful and well-respected program that has offered tuition support for students interested in pursuing careers in the recreational boating industry, awarding more than $340,000 to deserving students in Michigan over its 30 years of existence.

RBIEF will offer full or partial funding assistance for MBIA members, employees, family and students to attend specific marine industry educational programs offered by local, statewide or national marine organizations such as MBIA’s Recreational Boating Educational Conference, ABYC’s Certification Workshops, NMMA American Boating Congress, manufacturer sponsored education, and MRAA’s Marine Dealer Conference and Expo.

RBIEF continues to be committed to sharing information about the many interesting and challenging jobs available within the boating industry. “All industries can benefit from bright young minds and the perspectives of our younger generations,” said Coburn. “We encourage everyone to learn more about Michigan’s $7.4 billion marine industry.”

The Michigan Boating Industries Association is a state-wide, non-profit organization representing more than 300 marine businesses in Michigan. The boating industry in Michigan represents a $7.4 billion economic impact in Michigan with more than 758 marinas, 460 marine dealers and more than 58,000 jobs.

For more information about RBIEF and the marine industry, visit MBIA’s website

Extinction is Forever… Science Cafe Featuring MSG Director

Event Date: 10/22/2014

What: October Science Café Featuring Michigan Sea Grant Director Jim Diana as a panelist.
When: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 22
Where: Conor O’Neill’s Traditional Irish Pub
Cost: Free
Who: Hosted by the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

Hunting, fishing, habitat loss, climate change, invasive species and toxic algae blooms — the Great Lakes area can be a dangerous place for rare species! In commemoration of the death of Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon 100 years ago, the discussion will focus on the forces that cause extinction, and current efforts at conservation in and near the Great Lakes. 

How does what is going on locally relate to global biodiversity challenges? Join Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez and Johann es Foufopoulos of the U-M School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) and Jim Diana, Professor of SNRE and Director of Michigan Sea Grant, for a lively discussion of past errors, current efforts and future biodiversity.

Science Cafés provide an opportunity for audiences to discuss current science topics with experts in an informal setting.

2014 Thumb Tourism Workshop and Bus Tour

Event Date: 11/17/2014

Thumb tourism workshop and bus tour provides scientific information and hands-on visits to local destinations.

This regional workshop is aimed at enhancing knowledge and strengthening opportunities for stakeholders and destinations to benefit from sustainable tourism.

The interactive workshop is free and open to the public. It will provide valuable information including current tourism research data, a look at various niche markets and examples employable in communities to foster tourism development.

The bus tour will include stops in Gagetown, Port Austin, Port Hope, Harbor Beach and Bad Axe as well as tourism destination information for points in between and beyond. Tour participants will experience Thumb destinations such as historic sites, a winery, coastal assets and an internet café.

This workshop is intended for tourism professionals, community and economic development professionals, and other interested community members.

You are invited to participate! See: Registration

Brief Agenda:

  • 8:15am Registration/Continental Breakfast
  • 8:30am Understanding Tourism in Your Community Presentation
  • 10:00am Bus Tour Departs Library
  • 5:30 pm Return to Library

See: Tour Flier 2014

How MSG Connects

16 Ways

16 Ways Michigan Sea Grant Has Engaged Stakeholders

The heart and soul of Michigan Sea Grant is working with many different stakeholders. The MSG team ensures the work is relevant and useful to stakeholders by conducting needs assessment and constituent surveys and through a variety of other outreach efforts. The following 16 examples were highlighted because they show the scope of MSG’s program.

  1. MSG has been educating the public about dangerous currents in the Great Lakes by working with natural resource professionals, as well as developing lessons and a web portal that includes NOAA data for decades.
  2. The Salmon Ambassadors program, developed by MSG, enlisted anglers to gather information on Chinook salmon caught over the course of a year, helping biologists understand how stocked and wild fish contribute to fishing success during the fishing season.
  3. Twenty teachers from the Lake Huron watershed basin engaged in a week-long experience to explore coastal wetlands and native fish species using robotic tools. Teachers learned how to apply their new Great Lakes knowledge in the classroom.
  4. MSG worked with a fisheries researcher to develop an online decision-support tool that has educated more than 200 fishery stakeholders about how climate change is likely to affect whitefish populations in the Great Lakes.
  5. MSG facilitated the Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Consortium of Michigan museums to broaden the preservation efforts of fisheries artifacts within the state.
  6. To help charter operations meet food-handling requirements, MSG developed a seafood safety and handling training video based upon the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points principles.
  7. MSG’s leadership and collaboration in the development of a unique lake-to-plate tourism program provided continued economic growth to the state’s charter fishing and restaurant industries, and was recognized by the state tourism industry as innovative and collaborative.
  8. MSG’s research is helping shape the careers of new professors and transforming the way university personnel collaborate and tackle complex real-world issues through Integrated Assessment research.
  9. MSG-supported research found that unidentified sources of contamination still exist in the Torch Lake Area of Concern. The project combined environmental engineering and anthropological data to persuade authorities to work together and to address PCB contamination.
  10. MSG developed a beach safety kit for parks with high incidence of dangerous currents along Lake Michigan to help save lives and create awareness of coastal hazards.
  11. An MSG research project is helping the Grand Traverse Bay area understand and prepare for the likely impacts of climate change on their water resources, crops and waterfronts.
  12. MSG developed a tool to address sustainable tourism development for Northeast Michigan. These communities recognize the economic potential of coastal tourism development but also worry about damage that could accompany an influx of visitors.
  13. Outreach educators from the Great Lakes region participated in a training workshop to learn more about climate change and adaptation tools that could be incorporated into outreach.
  14. MSG research led to improved water flows in a highly managed river system, and the modeling tools are being used in other similar river systems.
  15. MSG helped Michigan’s dwindling whitefish industry by supporting development of a cooperative that shifted focus from a single commodity to value-added products and increased earnings.
  16. MSG worked with fisheries specialists to create an easier-to-read and more engaging version of The Life of the Lakes as a vehicle to build Great Lakes literacy throughout the region.

Aquatic Invasive Species-HACCP Workshop in Clare, Michigan

Event Date: 10/21/2014

Michigan Sea Grant and partners are offering an opportunity to learn more about AIS-specific HACCP planning.

Baitfish and aquaculture industries are diverse and complex, as are their risks of spreading aquatic invasive species. Most industry segments pose no or very low risk of spreading aquatic invasive species. However, to deal effectively and fairly with this potential vector (avenue of exposure), one approach is to apply the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) concept similar to that used by the seafood industry to minimize seafood consumption health risks.

What: Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension and the North Central Regional Aquaculture Center (NCRAC) will offer an Aquatic Invasive Species-Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (AIS-HACCP)/Aquaculture Biosecurity Workshop.

When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Where: Clare, Michigan at the Doherty Hotel
Cost: Free

For more information, contact Ron Kinnunen at or (906) 226-3687.

Steve Hernek, Dangerous Current Outreach Supporter, Passed Away

Mr. Steve Hernek passed away recently. Mr. Hernek and his family have owned the Dunes Shores Resort along Lake Michigan in the Upper Peninsula since 1960. The resort is located along US-2 on the shores of upper Lake Michigan where extremely dangerous currents are present. When the Mackinac County Water Safety Review Team was established, Mr. Hernek became an active member.

Ron Kinnunen, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator, said:
“(Mr. Hernek) had a great deal to add with his observations of dangerous currents over many years. Steve was involved with the research on dangerous currents in northern Lake Michigan and hosted the research team led by Guy Meadows at the Dunes Resort. Anyone who knew Steve could feel the enthusiasm that he projected. He will be sorely missed.”

Mr. Hernek also conducted dye studies and documented the movement of dangerous currents during storm events that were conducive to rip current formation.

See the obituary for Mr. Hernek online at the Dodson Funeral Home website.

Public Notice: Michigan Sea Grant Program Invites Comments

The Michigan Sea Grant College Program will undergo a program site visit and program review by a federally appointed Site Review Team October 28-29, 2014. Congress has mandated that Sea Grant College programs be regularly reviewed.

The National Sea Grant Office (NSGO) will review Sea Grant programs on three criteria:

  1. Program Management and Organization — leadership, organization, program team approach and support.
  2. Stakeholder Engagement — relevance, advisory services and relationships.
  3. Collaborative Network Activities — coordinated planning and cooperative work with other Sea Grant programs and other local, state and federal agencies and organizations.

Submit Comments By Oct. 21, 2014

If you would like to submit comments to the Site Review Team about Michigan Sea Grant, please send your written comments via email to


Questions may be directed to Mike Liffmann, NOAA Sea Grant Extension Leader and Program Officer,


About Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant supports research, outreach and education to enhance sustainable use of Great Lakes resources, benefiting the environment, the quality of life, and the Michigan, Great Lakes and national economy. Our vision is healthy and sustainable Great Lakes resources achieved through an integrated program that engages universities, as well as public and private sectors.

Michigan Sea Grant College Program, a cooperative effort of the University of Michigan (UM) and Michigan State University (MSU), is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program. Michigan Sea Grant receives support from NOAA, the UM School of Natural Resources and Environment and the MSU Extension – Greening Michigan Institute to carry out programs in Michigan. Also, additional Michigan universities, state agencies and other non-federal sources provide support.



Introduction to FieldScope Webinar

Event Date: 9/24/2014

Join the National Geographic Education team for an introduction to FieldScope, a tool for sharing, mapping and graphing data collected in citizen science projects. You’ll see a demonstration of basic FieldScope functions including photo and data uploads, graphing and mapping.

The FieldScope team will also highlight existing projects you and your students can participate in, such as Great Lakes FieldScope and others.

See: More Details and Registration Information