Fisheries science creates connections with northeast Michigan educators and youth

Teachers team up with scientists to explore how fisheries science experiences and Great Lakes stewardship opportunities can enhance student learning.

By: Brandon Schroeder and Dan O’Keefe

Three teachers assist a scientist in pulling a net out of lake as they experience fisheries science during two-day Lake Huron Place-Based Education Summer Teacher Institute. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan teachers experience fisheries science during two-day Lake Huron Place-Based Education Summer Teacher Institute. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Great Lakes, fish and fishing are a common thread in conversations among residents in northeast Michigan coastal communities – and also in school learning opportunities with students. This fall, fifth-grade students from Ella White Elementary (Alpena Public Schools) welcomed a juvenile Lake Sturgeon into their classroom as part of a Lake Huron and biodiversity conservation learning experience supported by one of their many community partners, Sturgeon for Tomorrow.

One week later, these same students were in waders (and in the water)  investigating watershed issues as part of their Thunder Bay Watershed Project. Working alongside scientists from Michigan Sea GrantMichigan State University ExtensionNOAA Thunder Bay National Marine SanctuaryU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Huron Pines AmeriCorps students collected data on invasive species like rusty crayfish and zebra mussels found in the river, sampled for microplastics (very small plastic particles or fibers) in the river, among other water quality explorations. Another class of Ella White Elementary students similarly monitored Thunder Bay River water quality and explored marine debris issues at their local Sytek Park.

Other school programs explore fisheries science, too

This is far from the only fisheries science and watershed explorations with schools across northeast Michigan this year. This past spring, Onaway High School visited the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, exploring underwater robotics, and learning about fisheries science careers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alpena, Mich. These students also are hosting Lake Sturgeon in their classroom, and plan to visit with local fisheries scientists from the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife working locally at the Black River Sturgeon Streamside Research Station. Besser Elementary (Alpena Public Schools)Oscoda Area Schools, and Alcona Community School students are participating in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Salmon in the Classroom program this year. These classes will be receiving salmon eggs in the fall, and Alcona Elementary students have visited their local stream (near the local marina) to kick-off some watershed studies and lead a litter pickup with several local community partners.

In common, these projects are all supported through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) network, a school-community place-based education partnership. NEMIGLSI recently received a Great Lakes NOAA B-WET program grant to expand watershed studies and fisheries stewardship opportunities among schools in this region. Led by Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, this NOAA B-WET strives to provide support for educators and meaningful watershed education experiences for students – experiences framed in our valuable Great Lakes fisheries. Supporting the teachers behind these student experiences, the regional Sea Grant Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL) serves to foster Great Lakes science connections with education.

Teachers explore watersheds, ways to expand student learning

This past summer, the NEMIGLSI network, CGLL, and this Great Lakes NOAA B-WET project collaborated to offer the 2018 Lake Huron Summer Place-Based Stewardship Education Summer Institute. Fifteen teachers from across the Lake Huron watershed (and beyond) convened in Alcona County, Mich., and worked alongside Great Lakes scientists and community partners with a goal of expanding their students’ learning experiences through watershed studies and fisheries stewardship experiences. Framed in place-based education practices, educators explored local watersheds, interacted with fisheries science and stakeholders, and considered many ways in which fisheries benefit our community.

As part of this Summer Institute experience, teachers also considered the many values in fish beyond their roles in the ecosystem – for example, fish are fun to catch, provide a local food source, and contribute social and economic values. Teachers experienced this first hand when meeting with Lake Huron commercial fisherman bringing in their catch of Lake Whitefish and visiting Cedar Brook Trout Farm where they learned about the aquaculture industry, had fun fishing, and explored math and science learning values in the fish they caught.

Engaging teachers in a fisheries science experience, Huron Pines, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Sea Grant, and MSU Extension led a variety of fisheries science sessions in local waterways investigating water habitats and watershed issues, fish biology and ecosystem sciences, and fisheries research and management techniques. Teachers learned about gear used by scientists to sample fish (including an underwater look and video of their fyke net deployed), collect data on fish from identification to measurements, and how to apply science and math skills (and a variety of other skills, including art) to help students analyze data and answer science questions.

The end goal for educators participating in this Lake Huron PBSE Summer Teacher Institute was to explore opportunities for expanding student learning – and connections with community – by engaging their students in local Great Lakes watershed explorations and fisheries stewardship projects. It was an exciting week for teachers, exploring Great Lakes literacy and learning through place-based education stewardship practices. Already, these teachers are translating their experiences into meaningful watershed education experiences and place-based fisheries stewardship education opportunities with their students across northeast Michigan.

Students partner in invasive management, habitat restoration project

Tawas Middle School students help to manage invasive Phragmites in their community – learning and having some fun along the way.

By: Brandon Schroeder

Four students stand in a wetland and measure density of Phragmites in a designated area.

Tawas Middle School students help to manage invasive Phragmites by measuring the density of Phragmites in a targeted area in their community.

A stand of invasive Phragmites plants towered over the heads of Tawas Area Middle School students as they stood in the thick of it all wearing waders and smiles. These students, through their applied learning, are partners in a community habitat restoration effort aimed at managing this invasive wetland plant in an area located near the local hospital.

The goal is to eventually manage this area as a rain garden by restoring native water-loving plants. Aside from mitigating the impacts of invasive species, the restored rain garden habitat would help to absorb rainwater and reduce runoff from the hospital’s parking lot.

Students collected field data on clipboards to calculate density and survival rates of the Phragmites. Photo: Michigan Sea GrantThe Iosco County Conservation DistrictHuron PinesHuron Pines AmeriCorpsMichigan Sea GrantMichigan State University Extension, along with several community partners and the Ascension St. Joseph Hospital, have been working together to manage this particular Phragmites stand since 2017. Through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) network, these partners quickly identified an opportunity to connect with Tawas Area Schools and involve students. Working with lead teacher Adrianne Dittenbir and a team of teachers from the school, this school-community partnership blossomed with the idea that this project could serve as a great learning opportunity for students – and a great opportunity for students to apply their learning and contribute to the project in meaningful way.

Many hands working together

The team of community partners joined in support of the students for their day in the field, sharing their time and expertise to enhance the students’ learning experience. Working in teams, students moved among several stations. One station involved collecting field data to calculate density and survival rates of the Phragmites. Another explored the issue of invasive species and Phragmites, a little plant biology and comparing native and invasive species, and an overview of the treatment and management process. Students also mapped the site, discussing future habitat restoration plans and opportunities following removal. They also did some litter pickup – enhancing the local grounds, their community, and preventing litter from ending up as marine debris in Lake Huron.

Students are applying their science and math skills to monitor and evaluate effectiveness of the treatment. Students first visited the hospital site in October 2017 to collect data before the first treatment of Phragmites took place. They measured and mapped the total area infested with Phragmites and counted plant stems in several sample areas to calculate density per square meter. This year a new group of students returned – exactly one year to the day – to repeat this same research protocol. Additionally they calculated proportion (and percentage) of living plant stems in each of their sample plots to determine how successful the previous year’s treatment was. Students put their math skills to the test measuring, counting, adding, calculating density and proportions – their applied math relevant in analyzing, interpreting results of their science investigations in support of this project. The data students collected at each visit is informing future treatment of the Phragmites by partners and supporting conservation efforts in their local community.

Beyond the classroom learning

This project reflects a great example of place-based stewardship education in action. This school-community project partnership resulted in a mutually beneficial opportunity for students to expand their learning beyond the classroom. Students served as valued partners in this wetland habitat restoration effort, and in trade, community partners are invested in school improvement opportunities, supporting this educator team and enhancing the student learning experience. And with their feet wet and hands a little dirty, these enthusiastic students enjoyed a fun-filled, hands-on learning experience while restoring wetland habitats within their own local community.

Michigan Sea Grant, MSU Extension, Huron Pines, among other partners, provide leadership for the local NEMIGLSI network, which is part of the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative(GLSI) partnership. This partnership provides a variety of information, resources and support for place-based education, including the benefits of place-based education as an educational strategy and guiding principles for place-based education in practice.

Great Lakes Fisheries: The Fish and the People Who Fish

Event Date: 11/8/2018

Great Lakes fisheries – fish and people who fish – have significantly benefited coastal communities, the Great Lakes region and the nation throughout history and still today. Learn about our dynamic Great Lakes fisheries and a new Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail which offers the opportunity to explore the past, present and future of the lakes through the lens of fish and fishing, presented by Brandon Schroeder.

A Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator, Schroeder has served coastal Lake Huron counties in northeast Michigan for nearly 15 years. His current Sea Grant Extension efforts involve fisheries science, sustainable coastal tourism development, Lake Huron biodiversity conservation, and promoting Great Lakes literacy and education opportunities.

The program will be held 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Nov. 8 at the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan, 491 Johnson St, Alpena, MI 49707, USA (map). The cost is $3 museum entry fee. Museum members do not pay.

After the program, explore Besser Museum exhibits that highlight fisheries history and heritage, ecology and management, social-economic values and issues that have defined our northern Lake Huron coastal communities.

The program is organized by the Association of Lifelong Learners at Alpena Community College, a not-for-profit organization which sponsors, promotes and encourages lifelong educational and enrichment experiences for people of all ages in northeast Michigan.

Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference

Event Date: 9/12/2018
End Date: 9/13/2018

Travel to Beaver Island to explore online opportunities for expanding the heritage trail network across Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

By Brandon Schroeder

Poster describing Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Conference to be held on Beaver Island, Sept. 12-13, 2018.

The 2018 Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference heads to Beaver Island, Mich., for a heritage experience, and also conversation toward expanding fisheries heritage trail partnerships across Michigan and the Great Lakes region.

Beaver Island Historical Society in collaboration with Central Michigan University Biological StationMichigan Sea GrantMichigan State University Extension, and other network partners will host the annual conference Sept. 12-13, 2018. This conference is a great opportunity for networking, sharing information and resources, and gaining new ideas linking our valuable Great Lakes fisheries with historic preservation, heritage tourism, education, and other community development efforts.

Explore technology and online opportunities

Does your community you have a local fisheries business, maritime museum or historic site, fisheries exhibit or educational materials, or even fisheries events or experiences? Would you like to share your community’s fisheries heritage stories and opportunities in more accessible ways? This year’s conference will serve to unveil a new Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail website; and explore technology and online opportunities to better connect local fisheries heritage among Great Lakes-wide audiences. Participants will learn to archive, share and connect work in their local communities, museums, and libraries with others across the state.

Explore fisheries heritage and Great Lakes science

The networking picnic, which kicks off the conference festivities on Sept. 12, 2018, is always a highlight. We will take a tour of Beaver Island Historical Society’s maritime museum, which includes a wealth of fisheries heritage artifacts, images, and stories; along with a visit to the CMU Biological Station. The following day (Sept. 13, 2018) will feature an educational conference with presentations and discussion centered on promoting fisheries heritage in connection with tourism, historic preservation and Great Lakes education goals.

This two-day conference will offer:

  • Conference kick-offand networking reception at 1 p.m. Sept. 12, 2018, with an afternoon picnic (provided) and guided tours of fisheries heritage and Great Lakes science partners and programs on Beaver Island.
  • Business meeting for the Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Consortium (open to all) will be held following dinner on Sep. 12, 2018. Participants are invited to assist in planning for this statewide network. This Great Lakes fisheries network works to benefit local museum programs and the work of fisheries organizations, promote Great Lakes literacy, enhance coastal tourism development opportunities, foster educational connections, and support community development efforts.
  • Conference educational sessions begin 9 a.m. Sept. 13, 2018, in the James Gillingham Academic Center. Learn from panel presenters, and share your own ideas and experiences that can help bring fisheries heritage stories to life. Learn how to use a new Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail website and resource in advancing your local work.

Register online to attend

  • Visit the conference website to register online. This educational program is open to all those interested in promoting maritime heritage tourism and Great Lakes stewardship. Please register by Friday, Sept. 7.
  • Registration is $50 ($30 for students) and includes picnic lunch and guided tours of Beaver Island on Sept. 12; and participation in educational conference sessions with lunch provided on Sept. 13.
  • Lodging is provided onsite at the CMU Biological Station for $76 (1 night) or $84 (2 nights) – payment and arrangements for lodging are included this year as part of registration process.
  • Travel to Beaver Island (from Charlevoix) includes ferry and flying options. Beaver Island Ferry runs on Sept. 12th (11:30 a.m. departure) and gets you to the Island on time for conference kick-off (NOTE: ferry returns on Sept. 14th – so those choosing ferry option should plan for an extra day). Flights are also available via Fresh Air Aviation and Island Airways.

For additional information about this educational program contact Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant Extension (schroe45@msu.edu, 989-354-9885).

Future Spartan already building MSU network through underwater robotics, science career exploration

Alpena High School student assisting sturgeon science team in capturing video, data in the Black River.

Liz Thomson works with Doug Larson from the lake sturgeon science team at MSU to install underwater cameras in the Black River. Courtesy photo

Liz Thomson works with Doug Larson from the lake sturgeon science team at MSU to install underwater cameras in the Black River. Courtesy photo

High school is a good time to explore career opportunities—an idea that one Alpena High School student has taken to heart. Liz Thomson soon will be a proud student of Michigan State University. However even before attending MSU, she has combined on-the-job career exploration with networking at the college.

This past year (and upcoming summer), Thomson has worked for Michigan Sea Grant and gained experience that cross-connects her passion for underwater robotics with an interest in future science careers. Along the way she has found many opportunities for fun and to add engaging learning, leadership, and career experiences to her resume.

Dr. Kim Scribner and Doug Larson lead a lake sturgeon research team from MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife in collaboration with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. They are embarking on a new citizen science project to track movement of spawning sturgeon along with other fish species in the Black River (Cheboygan River Watershed). Thomson is contributing to the project.

The MSU sturgeon science team is installing cameras above the water to capture video of the variety of large fish migrating in the Black River during the springtime sturgeon spawning season. Thomson explored underwater video options and also helped install an underwater camera which will be used help to verify species identification in video data collected during this project. Her project reflects a career exploration opportunity supported by the Michigan Sea Grant and a recently funded Great Lakes NOAA B-WET grant supporting meaningful watershed education experiences for youth across northeast Michigan.

Thomson has fostered her expertise in applying underwater technology toward science through her leadership with the Alpena 4-H Underwater Robotics club and involvement with NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s MATE Underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle) competition.

She has been part of several underwater robotics teams who have built and successfully competed across the state and nation. She also has been involved in a variety of hands-on Great Lakes and natural resource learning experiences in elementary, middle and high school through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI). The initiative is a regional place-based education network and partnership for which MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant provide leadership.

Photo shows Liz Thomson who is the subject of the story

With this new project, Thomson is able to explore careers in Great Lakes and natural resources, and support research designed to better connect citizens with stewardship of the state-threatened lake sturgeon.

While employed by Michigan Sea Grant, Thomson has supported Great Lakes educational programs in northeast Michigan ranging from fisheries science to youth education projects. “Michigan Sea Grant has given me lots of great connections and networking opportunities from the lake sturgeon project and from the NEMIGLSI network,” Thompson said. “Working with the Sea Grant staff has allowed me to develop my skills with data entry and summarizing evaluations and surveys.”

Beyond this in-the-water project, Thomson has been working with a local Sturgeon for Tomorrow Chapter and educators from the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service to adapt their sturgeon education program for Great Lakes educator audiences. This summer she hopes to pilot some adapted educational activities with teachers – and data collected through this sturgeon citizen science project will be integrated as part of these adapted lessons.

Northeast Michigan explores project-based learning, place-based education connections

School, community partners from the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative learn and grow together.

Teachers gather to dicuss common interests in place-based education during a recent professional development session. Photo: Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant

Teachers gather to discuss common interests in place-based education during a recent professional development session. Photo: Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant

A community of practice represents an opportunity for a group of people to learn and grow together – a community with shared interests and together a wealth of shared expertise and experiences.

The Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) is a regional community network of schools and educators, communities and partners who are invested in connecting youth, through their learning, in caring for natural resources. This network and partnership regionally supports place-based education (PBE) and works together to engage youth seeking to enhance their learning through Great Lakes and natural resource stewardship projects.

Celebrating successes

Last month, more than 60 educators and community partners celebrated the network’s successes during the 13thannual regional NEMIGLSI network meeting held in Alpena, Mich. Facilitated by Michigan State University Extension (Michigan Sea Grant and 4-H Youth), NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Huron Pines AmeriCorps and others, this meeting serves to strengthen school-community partnerships across the region. Educators from ten area schools joined in sharing educational presentations, trade resources and exploring new ideas together with community partners.

This year’s meeting offered an opportunity to explore connections between project-based learning and place-based education experiences and opportunities for youth. Keynote speaker, Mary Whitmore, serves as director for the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and champions PBE as an effective strategy to better connect youth learning with their communities while caring for the Great Lakes and natural resources. Whitmore shared a reflection on the idea of ‘Powerful Learning,’ describing the types of attributes we often seek in youth learners – and the types of educational strategies we often deploy to accomplish these outcomes. Through this lens, she illustrated how project-based learning and place-based educationstrategies serve together in complementary ways. For example, a student project that inspires greater learning opportunities can also serve as a place-based education experience when connected with local environment and a local community context.

An educational panel shared additional perspectives about project-based learning experiences that have also successfully served in growing place-based education opportunities, including:

  • Expanding through community connections: Monarch Watch and Salmon in the Classroom: Gail Gombos and Jen Inglis are elementary teachers at Alcona Community Schools, where students participate in the Monarch Watch and Salmon in the Classroom projects. Their school team has made strides in recent years to connect these student projects with broader community place-based education partnerships. Students who participate in the Monarch Watch project not only contribute important citizen science data, but are also contributing to a pollinator garden project at the local library. On the aquatic side, their Salmon in the Classroom project partnership engages students in broader watershed science and studies connected with their local marina.
  • iNaturalist, Schoolyard Bio-Blitz and Biodiversity Conservation: Gabi Likavec joined the panel from Central Michigan University and Michigan Geographic Alliance. Across Michigan, she inspires citizen science opportunities through Schoolyard Bioblitz’s and the iNaturalist digital reporting and mapping tool. Likavec shared examples of how iNaturalist has been used to conduct schoolyard and community bioblitz’s, how student-collected data is being used by scientists around the world, and how educators can leverage this project to accomplish learning goals.
  • Projects, inquiry, and place-based successes: Bob Thomson is a veteran elementary teacher from Alpena Public Schools, who serves on the NEMIGLSI leadership team and as a Center for Great Lakes Literacy mentor teacher. Through a watershed science and stewardship model, Thomson engages his students in a wide diversity of projects, ranging from building underwater robots to rearing native fish in his classroom. Thomson leverages these projects to connect his students with scientists and their local communities, and through inquiry-driven processes he challenges students to translate their projects into local science and stewardship projects that result in deeper, richer learning experiences for youth involved.

Impact felt by many

In 2017, supported by Great Lakes Fishery Trust’s Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative funding, the NEMIGLSI network:

  • served more than 30 schools,
  • supported 167 educators,
  • and engaged 4,483 youth in place-based stewardship education experiences.

At its core, the network and partnership is guided by a set of Principles for Exemplary Place-Based Stewardship Education (PBSE) co-developed with the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and nine statewide GLSI network hubs (including NEMIGLSI). This regional meeting reflected on these place-based education principles, examples in local practice, and regional network accomplishments. As a networking meeting participants also discussed upcoming opportunities, and engaged participants in exploring new ideas and planning future opportunities for the NEMIGLSI network.

Lake HuronFisheries Workshops

Event Date: 4/10/2018
End Date: 5/3/2018

Register for any of 4 free workshops held in April and May and keep up-to-date on Lake Huron fisheries.

The annual fisheries workshops provide valuable information for anglers, charter captains, resource professionals, and interested community members. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The annual fisheries workshops provide valuable information for anglers, charter captains, resource professionals, and interested community members. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Lake Huron fisheries have witnessed numerous ecosystem changes resulting from invasive species, yet this changing fishery continues to offer a diverse and vibrant fishing opportunities.

Native species such as lake trout in offshore waters and walleye in Saginaw Bay and nearshore waters have rebounded and drive growing fishing opportunities. An Atlantic salmon program supported by Lake Superior State University and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division shows expanding promise for Lake Huron anglers. Concerns remain over issue of aquatic invasive species, and communities have questions about the future of cormorant control efforts as they relate to fisheries management activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to expand efforts toward native Cisco restoration efforts, and a Lake Huron-Michigan predator diet studyled by Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and USGS Great Lakes Science Center  (with support from Michigan Sea Grant) continues to track food web interactions in these Great Lakes ecosystems.

How might you keep current on all these issues and topics? The 2018 Lake Huron Regional Fisheries workshop series offers an educational opportunity to keep current on the status and health, trends and fishing opportunities on Lake Huron. These annual educational workshops also offer opportunity to directly learn and ask questions with a diversity of university and agency scientists and experts who work on Lake Huron fisheries.

2018 Lake Huron Regional Fisheries Workshops

Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries DivisionUSGS Great Lakes Science Center, and local fishery organizations will host four evening workshops across Lake Huron’s coastline.

Workshops will include information and status updates on topics such as fish populations and angler catch data, forage or prey fish surveys, offshore fisheries and native lake trout, and the status of Saginaw Bay yellow perch and walleye. In addition there will be information shared on fisheries management activities, citizen science opportunities for anglers, and a variety of other Lake Huron topics of local interest. These workshops provide valuable information for anglers, charter captains, resource professionals, and interested community members.

Workshops are free and open to the public. Locations and dates include:

  • Standish (Saginaw Bay): April 10, 2018, (Tuesday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.) at Saganing Tribal Center, 5447 Sturman Rd., Standish, MI  48658.
  • Ubly/Bad Axe: April 19, 2018, (Thursday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.) at Ubly Fox Hunter’s Club, 2351 Ubly Rd., Bad Axe, MI 48413.
  • Rogers City: April 24, 2014, (Tuesday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.) at Rogers City Area Seniors and Community Center, 131 Superior St., Rogers City, MI  49779.
  • Cedarville: May 3, 2018, (Thursday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.) at Clark Township Community Center, 133 E. M-134, Cedarville, MI  49719.

Registration requested

Please register online to participate in any (or all) of these educational opportunities.

For program information or questions, contact Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant by email or at (989) 354-9885. Workshop details for these and other Great Lakes fisheries workshops are also available online the Michigan Sea Grant website.

MSU grad’s work in Northeast Michigan will support place-based stewardship education

A childhood filled with beach trips, nature camps, and Ranger Rick magazines helped Hannah Hazewinkel choose her career path early on.

MSU graduate Hannah Hazewinkel is one of 26 Huron Pines AmeriCorps members serving this year with conservation stewardship agencies and organizations across Michigan. Courtesy photo

MSU graduate Hannah Hazewinkel is one of 26 Huron Pines AmeriCorps members serving this year with conservation stewardship agencies and organizations across Michigan. Courtesy photo

The Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI), a place-based stewardship education network and partnership, has gained a new set of helping hands through the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program. Hannah Hazewinkel, a Michigan State University graduate, joins as one of 26 Huron Pines AmeriCorps members serving with conservation stewardship agencies and organizations across Michigan this year. Hannah received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Biology and Zoology in May 2017.

As part of the NEMIGLSI network, Hannah will be supporting place-based stewardship education activities that facilitate school-community partnerships and support educators through sustained professional development. Most of all, her service will help engage youth, through their learning, in environmental stewardship issues and projects that make a difference in communities across northern Michigan.

In collaboration with MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant, Huron Pines is a leadership partner to the NEMIGLSI network and since 2009 they have placed AmeriCorps members annually in service of this education initiative. These members have been crucial in establishing and expanding this educational network of school and community partners in northeast Michigan communities.

So what do we have to look forward to in Hannah’s expertise and service in the coming year? Let’s meet and learn more about Hannah in her own words.

Tell us about yourself and what inspired you to pursue a career in environmental or conservation stewardship?

A childhood filled with beach trips, nature camps and Ranger Rick magazines had me convinced at the age of 9 or 10 that working in environmental conservation was the life path for me. For years I plastered my room in nature photos and articles and I dedicated myself to the study of natural science. In July of 2015, I realized the incredible power of environmental stewardship when I helped facilitate a tree planting event as an intern with the Department of Conservation in New Zealand. That day changed my life. I spent the following two years volunteering/interning/working at Fenner Nature Center, engaging with the educational programs and volunteer coordination, as well as becoming a Staff Naturalist. The support team and the experiences I had there taught me so much about nature and community relationships and inspired me to pursue stewardship and education as a career path.

What do you most look forward to in your upcoming service with the NEMIGLSI network and partnership?

I’m really looking forward to working with the youth and providing them with opportunities to engage with the land and the lakes and be touched by these encounters as I was. I love being able to witness these interactions firsthand and watch students and community members learn and grow in their connection to nature. I’m also excited to get out to these natural places in Northern Michigan and have as much of an engagement and learning experience as the students.

Looking forward and after nearly a year of service – what would you like to have accomplished?

I hope to gain a breadth of experience with place-based education and a better understanding of how we can integrate it into our educational systems to foster good student-community interactions and raise good environmental stewards. I want to build a good skills portfolio but also have my service mean something to the communities and the natural areas that I interact with. If I can change the life and perspective of at least one student and create a more sustainable future for at least one natural region, then at the end of the day I can be assured that I have made at least a small contribution to the Earth and reciprocated a fraction of the gifts that I have been given. For me, service is not about getting myself ahead, but rather showing humility and gratitude for the human and natural communities that have blessed and supported me throughout my life. 

How has your experience at MSU prepared you for this role and opportunity?

MSU and Lyman Briggs College provided me with a great natural science education, and diverse opportunities to explore different career paths, countries, cultures and activities. Their partnership with Massey University in New Zealand allowed me to have a life-changing study abroad and internship experience. Through the science and humanities-based curriculum in LBC, I was able to gain a better comprehension of how science is integrated in society, and how we need a well-rounded and open perspective to understand and solve the world’s problems.

What are some of your favorite Great Lakes and natural resources hobbies or memories? What Great Lakes and natural resources experience are you most looking forward to experiencing?

I’ve always been an avid beach-goer and paddler. One of my favorite stories from my parents is the time they took me down the Lower Platte River in a raft when I was less than two years old. I enjoy kayaking adventures and trips to Lake Michigan every summer and fall, and last year I completed my first Great Lakes tour, swimming in every Lake over the course of the summer. Fond memories from that trip include swimming in Lake Huron when the solar eclipse peaked and almost being denied entry into Canada because the immigration officers didn’t believe that anyone would be traveling just for the sake of seeing the Lakes. I’m looking forward to spending more time in Lake Huron, hiking, and paddling northeast Michigan rivers, particularly the Au Sable of which I am very fond.

4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp – registration now open!

Event Date: 8/5/2018
End Date: 8/11/2018

 

4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp will be held Sunday, August 5 through Sunday, August 11, 2018, at Camp Chickagami in Presque Isle.

This camp is for teens aged 13-15, or going into 8th-10th grades in the fall. The cost is $375.00 for 4-H member and $395.00 for non-4-H members.

Please visit the below link for the online application process. If you have youth that will try to find funding from 4-H Council, please have the family pay in full, and the 4-H Council reimburse the family. This will keep payment processing with Events Management efficient.

The deadline for application is May 1.

https://events.anr.msu.edu/event.cfm?eventID=02B2D330861D46B4

If you have a youth that is interested in applying to become a counselor, please visit the same link and they will find the link for counselor applications. Youth must be at least 16 years of age, and have some experience in camp counseling.

We look forward to another great year at 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources camp!

See: Brochure (PDF)

Contact

Laura Potter-Niesen  |  Educational Program Events Coordinator
Michigan State University Extension  |  Children & Youth Institute
Justin S. Morrill Hall of Agriculture
446 W. Circle Drive, Room 160
East Lansing, MI 48824
Phone: 517-432-2963 
Fax: 517-353-4846
Email: potterla@msu.edu

Youth voices on Great Lakes, marine sanctuaries and more shared through film

Event Date: 1/24/2018
End Date: 1/28/2018

Thunder Bay International Film Festival explores Great Lakes issues, ocean exploration, maritime heritage and more.

The 2018 Thunder Bay International Film Festival features films about Great Lakes issues, ocean exploration, maritime heritage, and more.

The 2018 Thunder Bay International Film Festival features films about Great Lakes issues, ocean exploration, maritime heritage, and more.

Film lovers, filmmakers, proud parents and students will be flocking to Alpena, Mich., this next week for the sixth annual Thunder Bay International Film Festival (TBIFF). The festival takes place Wednesday through Sunday (Jan. 24-28, 2018), at NOAA’s Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center and is hosted by Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in partnership with the International Ocean Film Festival. Films will be featured from around the world exploring ocean and Great Lakes issues, and much more. Student films will be featured during the TBIFF’s 3rd Annual Student Film Competition.

The Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative network and partnership, the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine SanctuaryMichigan Sea Grant, and others partner sponsor this student competition to inspire young filmmakers – and to promote deeper understanding of Great Lakes and ocean issues. The 2018 stewardship theme and film challenge for students was #SanctuariesAre, and 9 student films (grades K-12) explore our National Marine Sanctuaries – and other creative interpretations of sanctuaries – through the lens of these talented youth. Student films will be shown 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, followed a filmmakers’ panel discussion. This portion of the festival is free and open to the public.

The entire TBIFF will screen nearly fifty films, ranging in length from one minute to feature-length at the NOAA Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. This is an opportunity for many to view films from the International Ocean Film Festival, a long-running, global festival of ocean-themed films, but which are largely unavailable to the general public. Films also will be shown at the Rogers City Theatre in Rogers City, Mich. (Jan. 24) and the Alcona County Library in Harrisville, Mich. (Jan. 25).

listing of times and locations of filmsOne festival film featured this year is “Immiscible: The Fight Over Line 5,” a film produced by Dan Stephens, a Michigan StateUniversity alumni. Stephens studied documentary production at MSU, but has an interest in natural resources leadership. In middle and high school, Dan was both a past camper and counselor at the statewide 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp sponsored by Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant. Stephens hopes to speak with and inspire this year’s student film competitors to continue their journey to foster Great Lakes stewardship and educational opportunities through film.

In addition, a Michigan Sea Grant film titled “Fish Guts,” created by MSUstudent Zachary Barnes and Extension educator Dan O’Keefe describes a Great Lakes predator fish diet study involving a citizen science effort where anglers help scientists better understand foodweb interactions among fisheries in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

Tickets are $30 for the Friday reception and films, $6 per program for films aired on Saturday and Sunday. The filmmakers panel and student films taking place 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday are free and open to the public. A full festival pass (Thunder Pass) can be purchased at a discount. Call (989) 356-8805, visit thunderbayfriends.org, or come into the Sanctuary Store (500 West Fletcher, Alpena) to buy your tickets. For more information about the Thunder Bay International Film Festival or the Student Film Competition, call 989-884-6212 or email Stephanie Gandulla.