Award-winning program advances Great Lakes literacy and stewardship among K-12 students throughout southeast Michigan.
By Steve Stewart
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
Alcona first-grade students spend day learning and preparing for their part in creating library garden.
By Brandon Schroeder
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.
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 onlineiNaturalistcitizen 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.
“Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region, Revised Edition” offers readers a glimpse into the world of herpetofauna
By Mary Bohling
An American Toad is one of the Great Lakes amphibians featured in a newly revised book. Photo: Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant
Growing up in Michigan, I recall encounters with some special amphibians and reptiles including Spring Peepers in the Les Chenaux Islands, Eastern Fox Snakes along the Lake Erie shoreline, Mudpuppies, and Blanding’s Turtles in the Detroit River and American Toads on Isle Royale. Recently I read a newly revised edition of the book, “Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region,” by James H. Harding and David A. Mifsud, which helped me learn even more about the creatures I’ve seen over the years.
The book includes range maps, photos and other key information for each reptile and amphibian species known to occur naturally within the Great Lakes basin along with limited information for marginal and questionable species. Also included are definitions to help readers understand these often mysterious and misunderstood species.
Are you a herp-watcher?
Readers will learn that herpetology is the scientific study of amphibians and reptiles while herpetofauna is used to describe amphibians and reptiles occurring in a defined geographic area, and that amphibians include frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians and reptiles include turtles, tortoises crocodilians, lizards, snakes and tuatara.
The concept of “herp-watching” (think bird-watching but substitute animals with feathers for those with scales, slimy skin or shells) is also discussed. This recreational hobby offers an alternative to keeping amphibians and reptiles as pets. Herp-watchers can also play an important role in protection and conservation by documenting observations using web and mobile apps such as the Michigan Herp Atlas.
Management strategies considered
The conservation section for each species explains the animal’s relationship with humans such as economic importance, population trends, threats posed by human activities and possible management strategies. One of the things I found interesting in the habitat and ecology section was the feeding behaviors of some of the species, particularly those that rely on smell and sound to detect prey. I especially liked reading about the Kirtland’s snake because, although its range includes where I live in southeast Michigan, I had never even heard of the species. This little secretive snake lives most of its life below ground in burrows constructed by other animals or under leaf piles, rocks and logs and can flatten itself and become immobile when threatened.
Harding and Mifsud have compiled a wealth of herpetofauna information of use as a reference to non-specialists as well as professional herpetologists. I would recommend this book to anyone with a curiosity about or passion for amphibians and reptiles.
For more than 25 years, teachers have traveled aboard NOAA research vessels around the world through the NOAA Teacher at Sea Program. Applications for 2018 are now being accepted.
By Steve Stewart
June Tiesas (left) is on deck the Oregon II during her Teacher at Sea program with NOAA. Courtesy photo
Are you a teacher who is interested in learning more about our world ocean and sharing that knowledge with your students and colleagues? Are you excited about the opportunity to engage in ocean research alongside of NOAA research scientists and other teachers from around the country who share your interests? And would you like to do so at NO COST? If the answer is yes, NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program may be just what you’ve been looking for!
Teacher at Sea (TAS) has involved nearly 700 teachers since it began in 1990, with participants representing all 50 states. Eight from Michigan have participated over the past decade alone. Applicants may be classroom teachers (Pre-K through grade 12, community college, college or university), aquarium or museum educators, or adult education teachers. Teacher at Sea participants are typically on board one of NOAA’s research vessels for approximately two weeks and may participate in one of three cruise types: fisheries research, oceanographic research, or hydrographic surveys.
In 2015, June Teisan, a middle school science teacher at Harper Woods Secondary School in Harper Woods, Mich., who has collaborated with Michigan Sea Grant Extension on a number of education projects, was a Teacher at Sea on board the NOAA Ship Oregon II in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Teaching is an other-centered profession. We pour out our time and talents, passion, and praise moment by moment, hour upon hour, day after day. It’s what we love to do but it can be draining. So when the well of inspiration and energy runs dry how does a hard-working educator refuel? For me, self-selected professional development has been one way that I recharge my teaching batteries,” she states. “Over my career I’ve participated in a wide range of webinars, ed camps, conferences and internships, but one of the most powerful experiences was my time as a NOAA Teacher at Sea. Working side by side with top flight researchers 24/7 out beyond sight of land fed my inner science geek, challenged me to grow beyond the city-based bubble in which I’m comfortable, offered me a glimpse behind the scenes of NOAA’s critical role in maintaining the health of our fishery stocks, and gave me the opportunity to share this experience with my students through blog posts and connections to STEM professionals.”
NOAA wants teachers to understand how NOAA research is linked to the Next Generation Science Standards and Ocean Literacy Principles, and pathways leading to NOAA careers. They hope that as TAS alumni, teachers will use NOAA data and resources in their teaching and with colleagues. And they believe that the Teacher at Sea Program will develop an understanding of earth system science while building a workforce for STEM careers.
Applications for 2018 are now being accepted, and the deadline is November 30, 2017. Guidance on how to apply and program FAQs are available on the Teacher at Sea website.
Great Lakes Literacy and Connections to Inland Schools
Thursday, October 26, 2017
9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Please Log In to register. Registration is Required for this Event
Your school, your community organization, and YOU are invited to join the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) network and participate in our youth education-focused Inland Regional Network Meeting on Thursday, October 26, 2017 hosted in Gaylord, Michigan.
We hope this opportunity, in addition to our Annual Networking Meeting in February, will serve to bolster NEMIGLSI network efforts to support Place-based Stewardship Education (PBSE) and build relationships between partners with inland schools. A special thanks to our Leadership Partners, Great Lakes Fishery Trust and Huron Pines, for helping host and support this event.
The DEADLINE to register is October 20th at 11:59pm (EST).
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, with a focus with great lakes literacy and connections to inland schools! Your opportunity to provide input and guidance about how GLSI can better support place-based education programming in northeast Michigan!
Please share with those who may be interested in participating, and we hope you will plan to join!
Register online no later than Friday, October 20th. Please Log In to register.
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 dietary restrictions, please contact Olivia Rose, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (989) 884-6216)
NEMIGLSI School participation stipends. $100/teacher
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.
The Fall Networking Meeting will be held at the following location:
A threatened fish called the River Redhorse is the latest subject of the Native Fish Heroes poster series.
By Dan O’Keefe
The River Redhorse suffers from a case of mistaken identity. Even though it is a native fish that requires clean flowing rivers, many people mistake the River Redhorse for invasive carp or other native suckers that can tolerate polluted water. In fact, the River Redhorse is listed as a threatened species in Michigan and is only found in a handful of large, rocky rivers.
The River Redhorse is one of six species of redhorse sucker living in Michigan waters. Some of the other species are very common, and fishing regulations allow for unlimited harvest of other sucker species using a variety of gear including spears, bows and arrows, certain types of nets, and hook-and-line. Suckers are bony but very good to eat when canned or ground. Unfortunately, the River Redhorse is easily mistaken for other species and is sometimes harvested along with other sucker species.
Worse yet, some people mistakenly believe River Redhorse are a harmful or invasive species. They get to be fairly big (over 30 inches long) and could be confused with invasive common carp. Perhaps this is one reason why River Redhorse are sometimes left on the bank to rot.
River Redhorse need clean-swept rocky areas to spawn. Many large rivers suffer from pollution in the form of silt and sand that washes in from eroding banks, city streets, and agricultural land. This “nonpoint source” pollution can smother eggs and also harms native filter-feeding mussels. The River Redhorse feeds heavily on native mussels, and the decline of mussels in many areas of the eastern United States may be one reason for the rarity of River Redhorse.
Big rivers are also subject to development for flood control, navigation, and hydro power. Channelization removes important shallow-water spawning area and dams restrict the movement of fish. This can block River Redhorse from reaching historic spawning grounds, but some dams also restrict the movement of harmful invasive species.
Even though River Redhorse are not common anywhere, there are three Michigan river systems that still provide good habitat and support breeding populations: the Muskegon River, St. Joseph River, and Grand River.
Students at Walden Green attend school near the mouth of the Grand River, one of the last places in Michigan to find River Redhorse. By highlighting threats and suggesting ways that people can help to keep our rivers clean, the students hope to help protect this local treasure. They even came up with a “Rockin’ River Redhorse” theme poster, which emphasizes the fish’s need for clean, rocky habitat.
The River Redhorse poster is the second in Michigan Sea Grant’s Native Fish Heroes poster series. The Lake Sturgeon was the first poster created, and other teachers around Michigan have expressed interest in tackling Cisco, Smallmouth Bass, and Burbot. If you teach at a K-12 school and have a local connection to one of our fascinating native fish species, contact Michigan Sea Grant for additional details.
As part of Thunder Bay International Film Festival, the NEMIGLSI network and Friend’s of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary host a STUDENT FILM COMPETITION. Students (Kindergarten-12th grade) are eligible to enter individually or as a team, and there is NO entry fee for the competition.
Learn to catch big fish from shore! The freshwater drum is a hard-fighting native fish that eats invasive species like zebra mussels and round gobies. Also known as “sheephead”, the drum is related to prized saltwater species like redfish and seatrout.
Michigan Sea Grant Fisheries Biologist and Educator, Dan O’Keefe will lead participants in learning drum biology and how to catch them! Additionally, you’ll learn how to clean and cook this tasty fish.
Bring your own fishing equipment and a valid Michigan fishing license (youth under 17 years of age do not need a license). A limited number of loaner rods will be available if you do not have your own. You may also wish to bring sunscreen, polarized sunglasses, and bottled water.
While plastic monsters invade Michigan’s Great Lakes and inland waterways, Alpena Elementary students create video to foster awareness of this issue among their local community.
By Brandon Schroeder
Alpena Public Schools students get ready for action while filming their video “Plastics 101.” Photo: RC Laugal
What is marine debris? It’s essentially human-made trash – large and small – that finds its way to oceans, our Great Lakes and inland waterways. A group of fifth-grade students from Alpena, Mich., want to help everyone understand what it is and what can be done to fight this problem. They created a movie and offer ideas about how everyone can contribute toward solutions. Watch their student-created film at: http://bit.ly/Plastics101.
In fall 2016, Bob Thomson’s Ella M. White Elementary fifth-grade students visited Thunder Bay River, where they used nets to trawl for plastics, and were shocked to find microplastics in our Northeast Michigan watershed. After analyzing samples from the river, fifth-grader Tucker Bright said, “If there are this many microplastics in this little sample, just imagine how many there are in the Great Lakes!” To raise awareness about finding plastics in the river and finding solutions to this problem, these Alpena Public Schools students developed a film, “Plastics 101.”
Before filmmaking, the students researched the topic of marine debris and found that microplastics are a problem in both our Great Lakes and oceans. The students consulted with fisheries expert, Brandon Schroeder (Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant Educator), and microplastics expert, Dr. Sherri Mason (Professor of Chemistry, The State University of New York at Fredonia), to verify their research. Next, the students outlined the films’ goals and began creating a storyboard. The students also crafted props, recorded audio, captured video footage while having fun and learning.
The film “Plastics 101” emerged with entertaining insights into the troubles of a throwaway culture and the effects on the Great Lakes and oceans. Students also learned about potential career options while applying classroom learning goals. Thomson said, “The video provided a perfect opportunity to develop a cross-curriculum project that focused on targets from English Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.” Thomson recently was named 2017 Michigan Science Teacher Association Elementary Science Teacher of the Year.
Students also learned more about how their actions impact their community and ultimately the world. When plastics are improperly disposed, they could end up in a local stream, river, or the Great Lakes by the wind, rain, and through storm drains. Students were surprised to learn plastics absorb toxins, such as DDT, PAH and PCBs, and that these toxins can enter our food web through plastics. Since plastics don’t biodegrade, they don’t go away; they simply photodegrade into tiny pieces that can be consumed by plankton or small fish and then move up the food chain. To showcase solutions to this problem, the students highlight how to take action and protect our Great Lakes and ocean.
“Plastics 101” now will serve as an educational tool through the Northeast Michigan Earth Day Bag Project, an effort where third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders learn about the harms of single-use plastics to our Great Lakes and ocean and solutions to this growing problem. After watching a series of short films and discussing the information, students across northeast Michigan will decorate paper bags with conservation messages (e.g. Refuse to Single Use; Protect our Great Lakes), which will then be distributed to customers at local grocery stores on Earth Day, April 22, 2017.
Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension serve in providing leadership for the NEMIGLSI network, which is part of a larger, statewide network and partnership, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI). Established in 2007 with funding from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the GLSI supports place-based stewardship education in schools and communities across Michigan. Partnerships are invaluable in our endeavor to support stewardship of our Great Lakes and natural resources. Through the NEMIGLSI network, and applied place-based education strategies, our students may perhaps prove the most inspirational educators of all in addressing important Great Lakes issue such as marine debris.