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.

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.

Bay Mills Community College to partner with MSU Extension to perform Great Lakes research

College to use $216K grant to study contaminants, biodiversity in their local waters.

Bay Mills Community College was awarded $216K to help fund research of Waishkey Bay. Photo: Bay Mills Community College

Bay Mills Community College was awarded $216K to help fund research of Waishkey Bay. Photo: Bay Mills Community College

Looking out over the pristine headwaters of the Upper Saint Mary’s River, the main campus of the Bay Mills Community College (BMCC) is located between the sole outlet of Lake Superior and Waishkey (Waiska) Bay in the heart of the Bay Mills Indian Community. The Bay is an important recreational and cultural resource for members of the Bay Mills Indian Community and its neighbors, as well as for the many tourists who visit the area.

BMCC recently was awarded $216K to help fund research of Waishkey Bay. BMCC’s project will study contaminants in the Bay, including pesticides, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and micro plastics. The project will also study the biodiversity of the bay including surveying all mussel species present. Mussels, like clams and oysters, are good indicators of a water bodies health and many mussels in Michigan are threatened or endangered. ­­­

The project will engage the students at BMCC in assisting with the research as well as several partner organizations. These partners include Lake Superior State University’s Environmental Analysis Lab and Wayne State University’s Lumigen Instrument Center, which will be performing chemical analysis on samples collected. Bay Mills Indian Community’s Biological Services Department will assist with training and sample collection and Michigan Sea Grant, a program of Michigan State University Extension and the University of Michigan will serve as coordinators for education and outreach to the local community.

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.

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.

New book about amphibians and reptiles a good read

“Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region, Revised Edition” offers readers a glimpse into the world of herpetofauna

An American Toad is one of the Great Lakes amphibians featured in a newly revised book. Photo: Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant

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.

Apply Now for NOAA Teacher at Sea Program

Event Date: 11/30/2017

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.

June Tiesas (left) is on deck the Oregon II during her Teacher at Sea program with NOAA.

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.

2017 NEMIGLSI Fall Networking Meeting

Event Date: 10/26/2017

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

networking.jpg

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).

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, 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!

Registration Information: 

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 olivia.nemiglsi@gmail.com or (989) 884-6216)
  • 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.  

The Fall Networking Meeting will be held at the following location:

Treetops Resort 
3962 Wilkinson Rd
Gaylord, MI 49735
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