Get ready to celebrate Earth Day

Saginaw Bay region hosting hands-on activities on April 21, 2018 to celebrate Earth Day.

Litter cleanups are an easy way to protect our Great Lakes, promote healthy ecosystems and celebrate Earth Day. Photo: Stephanie Gandulla

Litter cleanups are an easy way to protect our Great Lakes, promote healthy ecosystems and celebrate Earth Day. Photo: Stephanie Gandulla

Earth Day celebrates our planet’s natural resources each year on April 22. First celebrated in 1970 with the support of Gaylord Nelson, former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, Earth Day signals the launch of the modern environmental movement. From hosting events to raise community awareness about environmental issues to leading stewardship efforts, there are many ways to celebrate. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has a list of Earth Day activities around the state, and in the Saginaw Bay region, community members have many opportunities.

  • At 8:30 a.m. April 21, 2018, Bay City residents can participate in Ed Golson’s 24th Annual Compost Event, where they can pick up compost at a site under Vet’s Bridge. Compost has many gardening benefits and is an efficient way to break down organic waste. Participants must bring their own shovel and container for this self-serve event. At 9 a.m., there will be two litter cleanups hosted at Golson Park (Boat Launch) and the River Walk & Rail Trail (800 John F. Kennedy Dr.). For more information on these opportunities, please visit Bay City’s Earth Day event page.
  • Bay County Extension 4-H Tech Wizards also have an event this year in partnership with the City Market. Participating the Earth Day Bag Project, 4-H members will learn about the impact of single-use plastics on our Great Lakes and ocean and will share the information with the public by decorating paper grocery bags. The decorated bags will be given to customers April 21 at the City Market to raise awareness about the importance of refusing to single use. 
  • Volunteers also are welcome to join U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 21, in Saginaw for an Earth Day Clean-up. Participants will tally litter found, and by removing the debris, they will help improve habitat for the migratory waterfowl.
  • The Children’s Zoo in Saginaw is also hosting an Earth Day event as their season opener from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21. There will be games and activities with the support of the Mid Michigan Waste Authority. The first 400 people with a recyclable beverage container will receive free admission.
  • In Midland, the 13th Annual Earth Day Expo will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 at the Midland Center for the Arts. Co-sponsored by the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art, the American Chemical Society – Midland Section and Midland Recyclers, this free event offers hands-on activities connecting to the theme, “Dive into Water Chemistry.”

Celebrating our Earth and its natural resources does not need to be limited to just Earth Day. Here are some daily practices that reduce waste and also protect our Great Lakes and oceans. Using the NOAA Marine Debris Tracker Application or the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program, community members can organize their own litter cleanups, where they also collect citizen science data. Communities can help reduce marine debris by raising awareness about the common types of litter found locally.

Project F.I.S.H. training helps educators connect youth to fishing

Hands-on activities, games and practice develop fishing skills, encourage conservation.

Participants practice fish printing, or Gyotaku (a traditional Japanese method), before learning how to prepare fish. Photo: Mark Stephens, Michigan State University

Participants practice fish printing, or Gyotaku (a traditional Japanese method), before learning how to prepare fish. Photo: Mark Stephens, Michigan State University

Recently teachers, 4-H program coordinators, and informal educators gathered at Michigan State University to participate in Project F.I.S.H. (Friends Involved in Sportfishing Heritage) training, where they learned hands-on ways to get youth excited about fishing.

Over the course of two days, participants explored the aquatic food web, practiced tackle crafting and casting skills, played games and discussed fishing management and ethics. They also learned how to filet fish and discussed food safety issues through the Eat Safe Fish in Michigan program.

To support efforts following the training, each person received a spincast rod and reel, backyard bass game, tackle box, tackle crafting supplies, bluegill fish print mold, a natural resources stewardship project guide and the Project F.I.S.H. curriculum with instructions for more than 100 fishing education activities. They also receive access to the Bait Shop, an online store that offers educational fishing tools at a discounted rate.

Fishing makes connections

Project F.I.S.H. was launched in 1996 with support from MSUExtension, the Michigan Department of Natural ResourcesGreat Lakes Fishery Trust, and many volunteers. The program has trained more than 2,000 volunteers and through them impacted 200,000-plus youth. Not only do youth learn about sportsfishing, but they also connect to their local waterways and learn how important clean water and a healthy fishery is for our state. One popular event is the annual 4-H Fish Camp, organized by MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant and Project F.I.S.H. held in the Saginaw Bay region.

For those attending the training at MSU, painting with fish forms was a fun – and somewhat messy — way to practice handling rubbery fish before learning how to filet a real one. Participants decorated t-shirts and towels with fish prints, but students have also fish printed no sew t-shirt bags, which is a great way to refuse to single use and protect our Great Lakes from marine debris

Learn more about Project F.I.S.H.

To learn more about upcoming Project F.I.S.H opportunities, visit the events page or contact Mark Stephens, Project F.I.S.H. director, at steph143@msu.edu or (517) 432-2700. Project F.I.S.H. is currently supported by financial donations. If you would like to assist the program financially, please donate online at www.projectfish.org.

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.