Hiring: Special Projects Outreach Specialist

Event Date: 2/15/2018
End Date: 2/28/2018

Michigan Sea Grant is seeking a fixed-term special projects outreach specialist. Position positing is available: http://careers.msu.edu/cw/en-us/job/498631/specialist-outreachfixed-term

Position Summary

As part of the Michigan Sea Grant College Program, this position has dual responsibilities providing leadership in special projects for facilitating integration and partnership among NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, National Sea Grant Network, and Michigan Sea Grant/Michigan State University about their research, extension, education and other programs; and (2) developing collaborative extension, communications, and outreach programs that draw upon the collaborators’ work and that are directed towards specific Great Lakes stakeholder audiences and/or the general public.

This position will collaborate across collaborators, work with faculty, specialists and educators for advancement of the needs of NOAA, NOAA GLERL, and Sea Grant; designs, implements and evaluates programming based on basic and applied research and the needs of partners; ensures dissemination of science-based information through various methods, including multi-media, personal education and written articles; and serves as an informational resource.

Michigan Sea Grant, a cooperative program of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, helps to foster economic growth and conserve Michigan’s coastal and Great Lakes resources through education, research, and outreach. Sea Grant Extension educators and specialists are involved in planning, organizing, and implementing university-based educational programs that apply knowledge and understanding gained through research. Sea Grant staff support Great Lakes stakeholders with information and tools to make informed decisions to conserve Michigan’s coastal and Great Lakes resources and enhance coastal communities.

Sea Grant Extension staff serve a variety of stakeholder groups, but no single staff can be an expert in all areas of concern to all potential stakeholders. Therefore, staff are part of a collaborative team within Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University (MSU), specializing in particular areas; and sharing their knowledge and skills with colleagues in other parts of the state, Great Lakes region and nation. 

The person in this position will work collaboratively with the team of Sea Grant, MSU, and NOAA professionals to provide overall leadership on special projects for NOAA GLERL, NSGO, and Michigan Sea Grant/MSU. This person will collaborate with other partners to support activities related to facilitating NOAA, Sea Grant, and Extension integration and partnerships for collaborative research, extension, education, or other programs; and develop collaborative special projects.  

This position is a full-time, end-dated appointment renewable annually based upon successful performance and continued funding.

Required Degree

  • Master’s degree

Minimum Requirements

  • Master’s degree from an accredited institution in a field of study related to freshwater coastal wetlands, fisheries or wildlife ecology, water quality, land use, planning, natural resources, or related field must be earned by date of hire;
  • Demonstrated ability and skill in educational program planning, implementation and evaluation;
  • Proven ability to create and carry-out a project plan from research of initial concept to project completion and follow-up;
  • Other requirements per MSU employment guidelines.

Desired Qualifications

  • 3-years’ experience in Extension program delivery or demonstrated ability and skill in educational program planning, implementation and evaluation (relevant experience acquired within the last 5-years preferred);
  • Demonstrated effectiveness in leadership, facilitation, human relations, and written and oral communications;
  • Proven record of working with State, Federal, and community based organizations and groups;
  • Experience in establishing collaborations and community-based initiatives;
  • Computer skills, including use of word processing, spread sheets, GIS, presentation software and the development of multimedia programs;
  • An understanding of educational program planning and successful experience in proposal development;
  • Demonstrated success in grant writing and experience managing operating budgets;
  • Documented understanding of and commitment to equal opportunity, affirmative action and diversity/pluralism; and
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse audiences of all socioeconomic levels and cultural backgrounds.

Required Application Materials

  • Applicants are asked to provide a current resume/CV, cover letter and four (4) professional references that will be contacted by the department if requested.

Special Instructions

  • Review of applications will begin on 2/28/2018 and will continue until filled.

www.michiganseagrant.org

Lake Superior water levels nearing monthly record highs

Shoreline erosion and coastal damages likely. Water will also make its way down through the other Great Lakes, too.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Monthly forecasts for Great Lakes levels in February 2018 have just been released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Many people are keeping a close eye on current lake levels and future predictions, particularly for Lake Superior. The preliminary data just in for January 2018, show Lake Superior just set the second highest monthly record level, a mere 2 inches below its all-time record for the monthly average January (record set in 1986). The recently released forecast also indicates a high probability Lake Superior could be within 2 inches of its all-time record high levels for every one of the next six months. Put simply, there is a lot of water in Lake Superior and all of that water will eventually make its way through the other Great Lakes.

100 years of data

Also, 2018 marks the centennial year of accurate lake level measurements from the series of binational gaging stations. The measurements for Lake Superior are taken in Duluth, Minn.; Marquette, Mich.; Pt. Iroquois, Mich.; Thunder Bay and Michipicoten, Ontario. There are now 100 years of coordinated data ­—this geographically dispersed gaging network accounts for seiches and provides excellent information – and thus 100 January monthly averages.

Isn’t Lake Superior’s water level controlled? 

The International Lake Superior Board of Control has a Regulation Plan 2012 and is responsible for regulating the outflow and control works in the St. Mary’s River. This Board has been in place since 1914 and has compensating works which allow for some limited variation. This plan must meet multiple objectives including hydropower; municipal and industrial water supply, navigation through the locks, and maintaining a minimum flow for protection of fish habitat in the St. Mary’s River. The January 2018 control board update states:

In consideration of the continuing high water levels in the upper Great Lakes, the International Lake Superior Board of Control, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission (IJC), will continue to release outflows of up to 2,510 cubic metres per second (m3/s) through the winter months. This flow is 100 m3/s more than the normal winter maximum prescribed by Regulation Plan 2012. Actual outflows may vary depending on hydrologic and ice conditions, as well as maintenance activities at the hydropower plants on the St. Mary’s River, all of which have been directed to flow at their maximum available capacity.” 

Additionally, the Board noted:''

“The high levels coupled with strong winds and waves have resulted in shoreline erosion and coastal damages across the upper Great Lakes system. As lake ice begins to form this may provide a level of protection to some areas of the shoreline, but additional shoreline erosion and coastal damages may occur this winter should active weather continue.”

System snow in Lake Superior impacts the spring seasonal rise as the snow turns into liquid water. We’re still in the thick of winter so time will tell if the 2018 seasonal rises are low, average, or high. Regardless of how much changes over the next few months, notable shoreline erosion and coastal damages can be expected on Lake Superior shores. (View above image)

Tools to help visualize changes

One tool for shoreline owners and other interests is the Great Lakes Shoreview risk assessment tool (http://www.greatlakesshoreviewer.org/#/great-lakes). This tool, funded by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Office of the Great Lakes, is a web-based mapping tool that shows photos from the Lake Superior shoreline, some nearshore LIDAR data, and some risk rankings.

One other tool to note is the NOAA Lake Levels Viewer tool. Similarly, this web-based mapping tool allows users to artificially fluctuate levels up or down and see impacts on the shore. The tool is found on NOAA’s Digital Coast website at https://coast.noaa.gov/llv/. Select the lake you are interested in, zoom to your geographic area, and use the legend bar to vary the lake levels. You will see impacts on the screen.

It has been a bit of a coastal dynamics wild ride, just 5 years ago all-time record-low lake levels were noted in some of the Great Lakes; now we’re dealing with almost all time highs. Keep your seat belts buckled!

Contact Mark Breederland, Michigan State University Extension Sea Grant if you want more information on living with the ever-changing dynamic coastlines of the Great Lakes.

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.

Teachers: GLEP Registration Open

Event Date: 4/23/2018
End Date: 6/15/2018

Award-winning program advances Great Lakes literacy and stewardship among K-12 students throughout southeast Michigan.

Teachers: Register now for the 2018 Great Lakes Education Program and think spring!

The Great Lakes Education Program begins its 28th year of classroom and vessel-based education in April. More than 3,400 teachers have joined the program on the water over those years.

GLEP education provides teachers and students with an award-winning learning opportunity that includes classroom, vessel-based and shoreside education. Students are the future stewards of our incredible Great Lakes, and this is an effective and memorable way to engage them in both learning about the lakes and in developing a personal sense of stewardship. We share a common ownership of and stewardship responsibility for the lakes. Teachers can register their class to participate and help students understand how important the Great Lakes are in Michigan.

Helps meet science standards

The program helps teachers meet Michigan’s Grade Level Content ExpectationsMichigan K-12 Science Standards, and the regional Great Lakes Literacy principles. Not to mention that 95 percent of students report they felt more knowledgeable about Great Lakes science after participating.

More than 115,000 students and adults have joined the program and learned more about the Great Lakes since 1991. Designed as a collaborative effort of  Michigan State University ExtensionMichigan Sea Grant, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Great Lakes Education Program provides students, their teachers and adult chaperones with an unforgettable on-the-water learning experience. With locations on both Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, it is easy for schools throughout southeast Michigan to participate.

Register now

Registration is now open for the spring 2018 Great Lakes Education Program season, which runs from mid-April through mid-June. For more complete information on the program, the spring season calendar, locations, cost, and how to register go to the Great Lakes Education Program website.

Great Lakes Conference, ANR Week

Event Date: 3/6/2018

The annual Great Lakes Conference held on March 6 will investigate the opportunities and challenges our Great Lakes face. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The annual Great Lakes Conference held on March 6 will investigate the opportunities and challenges our Great Lakes face. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The Great Lakes are one of Michigan’s most valuable resources, providing countless benefits in the present and offering tremendous opportunities for the future. Learn more about the opportunities and also the challenges facing the lakes during the annual Great Lakes Conference at Michigan State University.

The 28th Great Lakes Conference is an important part of MSU’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Week. The conference will be presented 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 6, 2018, at the MSU Kellogg Center auditorium on the East Lansing campus. The conference is sponsored by the MSU Institute of Water Research, MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; Michigan Sea Grant; and the Office of the Great Lakes.

Workshop presentations

This year the Great Lakes Conference will focus on topics including beach monitoring, autonomous vehicles used in research, ice cover, Harmful Algal Blooms (HABS), and more:

  • The Geomorphology and Evolution of Coastal Dunes along Lake Michigan – Dr. Alan F. Arbogast, Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
  • Seasonal, Interannual and Decadal Variability of Great Lakes Ice Cover – Dr. Jia Wang, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Ann Arbor.
  • Beach Monitoring using “Poop Sniffing” Dogs – Dr. Laura Symonds, Environmental Canine Services LLC, East Lansing.
  • New Aquatic Invasive Watch List Species – Sarah LeSage, Water Resources Division, MDEQ, Lansing.
  • Autonomous Vehicles in the Great Lakes for Exploration, Mapping and Environmental Monitoring – Dr. Guy Meadows, Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center, Michigan Tech University, Houghton.
  • Forecasting Harmful Algal Blooms to Help Lake Erie Stakeholders – Devin Gill, Outreach Specialist, Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, Ann Arbor.

Registration is open

The conference is open to the public. Registration is $10 through March 1; $12 at the door (students are free). If you are a K-12 or informal educator, you may be eligible to attend the Educator Luncheon and receive a stipend in support of your participation. Educators may contact Steve Stewart via email at stew@msu.edu.

Register online and don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about our present Great Lakes and planning for the future.

Great Lakes net-pen aquaculture—real and perceived risks to the environment

Michigan Sea Grant addresses environmental issues surrounding net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes at recent Annual No-Spills Conference.

Great Lakes net-pen aquaculture—real and perceived risks to the environment

In the last several years there has been a great deal of discussion about net-pen aquaculture in the Michigan waters of the Great Lakes. Much of the attention about Great Lakes net-pen aquaculture is the generation of large quantities of fish waste from these fish production operations as well as the consequences if these fish escape into the environment. The main issue with fish waste is the release of phosphorus which is the growth limiting nutrient for primary production in freshwater ecosystems. Although some phosphorus is necessary to drive the freshwater food chain, concern arises when excess amounts of phosphorus are available which can result in significant algal blooms and other aquatic plant growth. In addition there is a concern about fish diseases and genetics, which may be the consequence of the interaction of fish raised in Great Lakes net pens and native fish in the surrounding environment.

Discussing environmental issues

To address these concerns Michigan Sea Grant was invited to speak at the 28th Annual No-Spills Conference in January 2018, to discuss environmental issues surrounding net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Currently there are seven net-pen aquaculture operations that exist in northern Lake Huron on the Canadian side of the lake. These operations are sustainably producing more than 5,000 tons of rainbow trout per year with some being sold in retail markets in Michigan. They provide 340 direct and indirect jobs with a $100 million contribution to the Canadian economy. These net-pen aquaculture operations take up a small footprint in the environment; one of these operations that produces 500,000 pounds of rainbow trout per year would fit into an average size Michigan marina.

Fish disease risks and genetic dilution can be minimized

For Great Lakes net-pen aquaculture to be environmentally sound it must have practices that prevent disease transmission and escapement of fish into the wild, as escapees could affect the genetic integrity of surrounding fish populations. These operations must also be non-polluting with minimal and recoverable impacts. With regards to fish diseases, the commercial aquaculture industry is highly regulated and is held to the same standards as state and federal hatchery programs. Fish disease risks are minimized and prevented through regulation, biosecurity, and best management practices.

In 2014 the state of Michigan stocked more than 20 million fish, produced from gametes collected from wild fish. This equated to 325 tons of fish stocked, 9 different species, 370 stocking trips, 732 stocking sites, with 100,000 miles of travel from several fish hatcheries. In comparison Canadian net-pen operations in Lake Huron typically stock one cohort, certified as specific pathogen free, then raise the fish to harvest and truck them one way to a fish processing facility. The net results are that Michigan hatcheries have a much higher risk of disease transmission than the current system for growing trout in Canadian net pens.

The Great Lakes already have rainbow trout which are non-native to the region. They were introduced by fishery management agencies years ago and many of these fish are now naturalized, spawning on their own in local rivers, with additional enhancement from government fish hatcheries. Rainbow trout produced in Great Lakes net-pen operations can be female triploids which are sterile and will not reproduce should they escape into the environment. So the risk of genetic dilution can be eliminated by use of these female triploid rainbow trout.

Low phosphorus, digestible fish diets help minimize phosphorus waste

During the height of the Great Lakes net-pen aquaculture discussion there were media reports that a typical net-pen operation with 200,000 fish would produce as much waste as a city of 65,000 people. In reality a city of 65,000 people would produce 21 times more fecal matter than a 200,000 fish net-pen operation. This same city would produce 5 times more phosphorus compared to the net-pen aquaculture operation. The city would also generate 24 kg/yr of E. coli with none coming from the net-pen operation.

Canadians have had net-pen aquaculture operations in their northern waters of Lake Huron since 1982. To help address the issue of excess phosphorus discharge from freshwater net pens, Fisheries and Oceans Canada completed a study on Freshwater Cage Aquaculture: Ecosystems Impacts from Dissolved and Particulate Waste Phosphorus. Fish receiving digestible phosphorus in specific amounts to meet their growth requirements excrete only small amounts of dissolved phosphorus. Dissolved phosphorus is most often the form of concern in impaired waters. The other form of phosphorus excreted from fish is particulate phosphorus which settles to the bottom sediments. The particulate phosphorus which accounts for the majority of the waste from net-pen operations is transported to the bottom sediments and is not immediately available for uptake into the ecosystem. In sediments it can be consumed by the benthic organisms and enter the aquatic food chain. Both dissolved and particulate phosphorus wastes produced by fish are the results of the diets they consume. The development of low phosphorus, highly digestible diets has been a tool to help minimize phosphorus waste by aquaculture operations.

The Fisheries and Oceans Canada study found that based on net-pen aquaculture production in northern Lake Huron in 2006 contributed about 5 percent of the annual total phosphorus loading to the North Channel. The study concluded that the likelihood of phosphorus additions to the environment from net-pen aquaculture operations resulting in eutrophication to Canadian freshwater environments under the current level of fish production can generally be characterized as “low.” The greatest concerns for phosphorus are in the nearshore areas where excess aquatic plant growth can foul the shorelines. In contrast, offshore phosphorus loading is of less concern and higher phosphorus concentrations may be considered a means to help mitigate declining populations of forage fish and the poor condition of sport and commercial fish species.

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.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension welcomes new educator to Saginaw Bay region

Meaghan Gass excited to help build capacity, collaboration among groups in area.

Meaghan Gass works with students from Ella White Elementary School in Alpena, Mich. Gass will join Michigan Sea Grant as its Saginaw Bay region educator. Courtesy photo.

Meaghan Gass works with students from Ella White Elementary School in Alpena, Mich. Gass will join Michigan Sea Grant as its Saginaw Bay region educator. Courtesy photo.

Meaghan Gass will join Michigan Sea Grant as an educator located in the Saginaw Bay region. She is no stranger to Michigan, having spent the last three years with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI), first as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member and then on staff as the network coordinator based in Alpena. Through her position there she often worked closely with both Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant staff and programs.

“Through my work with the NEMIGLSI network, I partnered closely with Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant. Seeing what they are able to accomplish in Michigan is exciting,” said Gass. “I also learned more about what the Sea Grant network is doing across the Great Lakes. Engaging a variety of stakeholders and connecting Great Lakes research with communities are huge passions of mine, and I am excited these strategies are at the heart of Sea Grant’s mission.”

Gass will begin her new position on Feb. 5, 2018, and will divide her time between MSU Extension offices in Arenac and Bay counties. She will provide services in five counties including Arenac, Bay, Tuscola, Huron and Sanilac.

“Meaghan will be an excellent addition to our Sea Grant team,” said Dr. Heather Triezenberg, program coordinator. “We’re excited that she will continue the work we’ve been doing in that region to address Great Lakes, Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay issues.”

meaghan gass

Gass grew up in southern Illinois but loves living in northeast Michigan. “With all of opportunities for outdoor recreation, living close to Lake Huron has been fantastic. In the Saginaw Bay region, I look forward to collaborating with partners on water and coastal community resiliency issues that are key for the area.”

Mischelle Warner, MSU Extension district coordinator for seven counties in northeast Michigan, said having Gass located in Arenac County, as well as Bay, offers more accessibility for residents and communities. “We’re looking forward to having Meaghan with us in Arenac County. We know there are so many opportunities for programming and collaboration, plus, the county commissioners specifically requested support from MSU Extension in her expertise area for 2018 and beyond.”

Gass received her bachelor of arts degree from Illinois State University and her masters in political science from St. Louis University. Her research focused on water and river basin governance. As an undergrad she majored in political science and French and minored in Spanish.

While living in the Alpena area, Gass has quickly become a part of the community and served in several volunteer roles, including as a board member for Huron Pines, a 4-H Club Leader, and co-president of the Alpena County League of Women Voters. “It’s important to become part of the greater community,” she said.

“Meaghan’s work experience in northeast Michigan partnering with so many different organizations will lead to great connections, collaborations in the Saginaw Bay area,” said Dave Ivan, director of the MSU Extension Greening Michigan Institute. “We are happy to have her join MSU Extension.”

Gass is looking forward to her upcoming move to Bay City and to begin building connections with individuals and groups in the area. “We need to work together to ensure protection of the Great Lakes. Collaboration is key. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and look forward to what we can achieve in the Bay area.

Project-Based Learning Meets Place-Based Stewardship Education

Event Date: 2/15/2018

please_join_us_for_our_.jpg

Your school, your community organization, and YOU are invited to join and participate in the annual, youth education-focused Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) Regional Network Meeting on Thursday, February 15, 2018 hosted in Alpena, Michigan. 

Program Expectations/Objectives

  • Learn about the NEMIGLSI network and gain educational updates, information and resources in support of your stewardship education programs and efforts.
  • Network, share, and trade lessons learned with participating NEMIGLSI partners and projects; a chance to connect with educators and community partners from around our region.
  • Contribute in planning the future direction for your regional NEMIGLSI, a focus this year on linking project-based and place-based stewardship education! Your opportunity to provide input and guidance about how GLSI can better support place-based efforts in northeast Michigan!

Registration

Please share with those who may be interested in participating and benefit from the day, and we hope you will plan to join yourself!

  • Register online no later than Friday, February 9th.
  • No cost to participate and lunch is provided. We only request you please pre-register, as this helps us plan for meals and educational materials provided (if you have any food allergies, please contact Meaghan Gass, meaghan.nemiglsi@gmail.com)
  • NEMIGLSI School participation stipends. $100/teacher 

Questions or need additional information? Please feel free to contact us by e-mail at northeastmichiganGLSI@gmail.com or phone: (989) 884-6216. 

In good tradition, we anticipate a wonderful day of networking and sharing information, resources, and new ideas among schools, educators and community partners engaged in youth development and environmental stewardship across northeast Michigan.

Aplex (Alpena Events Complex)
Huron Conference Room
701 Woodward Avenue
Alpena, MI 49707
www.aplex.org

Students find winter is a perfect time to prepare for spring pollinator garden project

Alcona first-grade students spend day learning and preparing for their part in creating library garden.

Alcona elementary students enjoy creating their own caterpillars. Photo: Alcona Community Schools

Alcona elementary students enjoy creating their own caterpillars. Photo: Alcona Community Schools

Bees and butterflies, exploring native wildflowers, planting seed balls, and a painted caterpillar art project – all this adds up to a fun-filled morning learning about pollinators and native wildflowers with Alcona Community Schools. Students were not only applying their science and math, reading and art skills but also were preparing for a pollinator garden project they are creating in spring with their local library.

The Alcona County Library recently received a grant from the Laura Jane Musser Fund to create a community reading garden and book trail at their main branch in Harrisville, Mich. The library team has been planning the design with Alcona Community School educators, Michigan State University Extension staff, and other community partners – and at the center will be local students helping to accomplish this exciting project.

Alcona students from pre-school to high school will eventually contribute to the reading garden and trail. First-graders will begin by planting a pollinator garden in the shape of a colorful caterpillar to inspire an educational connection between native wildflowers and pollinators such as bees and butterflies. This shape was strategically chosen to complement the existing pollinator garden, which is in the shape of a butterfly. The original garden also was developed by teachers and students several years ago as a schoolyard habitat demonstration project at Alcona Elementary.

While planting the library garden won’t happen until spring, there are plenty of tasks to be accomplished in preparation. Recently student exploration included five simple yet purposeful (and fun) learning stations.

  • Art inspired: a painting project involved egg cartons cut into strips and turned upside down to look like caterpillars. Student art inspired their ideas about colors and creation of the soon to be caterpillar-shaped garden.
  • A science lesson: students learned in a hands-on way about pollinators such as bees and butterflies, along with a variety of native wildflowers that benefit pollinators.
  • Story problem solved by math: knowing six circle planters would be arranged to make their caterpillar garden, students used feed sacks filled with leaves to visually figure out how many bags of soil they would need to fill one circle. Applying their math and counting skills allowed them to figure a total amount of soil needed for their entire garden project.
  • A reason for reading: students read through a handful of nature books, picking a few of their favorites. Book titles and quotes from these favorites may be highlighted in signage created as part of the library project.
  • Hands-in-the-dirt learning: The class also explored a variety of native wildflowers (and colors of flowers) for their project; and got their hands dirty making ‘seed balls’ (moist soil balled up with a mix of native seeds). They planted these in their own local schoolyard habitats currently, while looking forward to planting more of seeds at the library this spring.

Part of a year-long place-based education effort, this fun-filled day represented was just one educational step toward creating their caterpillar-shaped pollinator garden. At the start of the school year, students launched their pollinator studies by raising, tagging, and releasing monarch butterflies as part of a Monarch Watch project. They also explored biodiversity of schoolyard habitats using tablets and the online iNaturalist citizen science project to document life found in their schoolyard pollinator garden and milkweed habitats. They also visited coastal Lake Huron habitats (important migratory habitats for monarchs) at DNR Harrisville State Park where they helped pick up litter and pull invasive spotted knapweed plants. Finally they made a quick visit to the library to see the site where their project would develop.

These native wildflower and pollinator habitat projects – both at the elementary school and soon to be at the library – are the result of place-based education learning effort led by Alcona educators with community partners supported through the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI). This project represents a fantastic school-community partnership where students and their stewardship project are relevant and valued by their community. Of equal value, lead educator Gail Gombos notes this project offers multiple learning values and hands-on experiences and gives her students an opportunity to expand learning in connection to the stewardship project throughout the entire school year.

Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension help provide leadership for the NEMIGLSI network, which is part of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI), a larger, statewide partnership. Professional development and project support for this project was also provided through the regional Sea Grant Center for Great Lakes Literacy.