Our Current Projects


Eastern Michigan University

Great Lakes Literacy in Action

The Southeast Michigan Stewardship (SEMIS) Coalition has built deep transformative partnerships among teachers, students, local organizations, and community members in the past 8 years.  Since the SEMIS Coalition’s inception, its students, teachers, and community members have gotten their feet wet in the Detroit River, Rouge River, Mallets Creek and the Huron River, and Lake Erie.  They have mapped underground water sources and provided a voice for water quality in front of council members, drain commissioners, and other members of their school and the public.  Now the SEMIS Coalition is ready to sharpen its focus on Great Lakes literacy across the Coalition, broaden its reach to include more students, improve the rigor of SEMIS students’ Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) by contextualizing them within broader questions of inquiry, and experimenting with new and innovative programming that will allow SEMIS to put Great Lakes Literacy into Action.

During this project period, SEMIS partners and teachers are launching their watershed experiences by taking students into the water to explore the beauty and challenges of our waterways in Southeast Michigan.  Using this first hands-on experience, teachers and partners will facilitate further classroom and community learning and meaningful watershed experiences using curricular materials from NOAA, Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Education Program, Earth Force, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) MEECS water quality unit.  Particular emphasis is being placed on four priority areas including, marine debris with a focus on micro-plastics, sturgeon habitat restoration and repopulation, harmful algal blooms, and riparian zone restoration.   In all of these areas, students are asked to explore the powerful connections between human behavior and environmental impact, develop community relationships, to take action in partnership with their local communities, and speak publicly to share their successes.

Contact: Ethan Lowenstein, SEMIS  ethan.lowenstein@emich.edu

Saginaw Valley State University

Experiencing the Saginaw Bay Watershed from the Classroom to the Water's Edge.


This project will take students to the coastal wetlands, beaches, and rivers of Saginaw Bay to provide them with meaningful watershed experiences.  At the water’s edge, they will join with the SVSU Mobile Research Laboratory, the Cardinal II research boat, and several SVSU faculty and student researchers who will guide them through their exploration of a range of watershed features.  They will learn environmental science and STEM concepts by observing, measuring, and recording important parameters related to ecological health.  They will learn about the beneficial use impairments (BUIs) that led to the Saginaw River and Bay Area of Concern (AOC) designation by the U.S. EPA.  Through the combination of experiences, students will be able to comprehend what it means to be in a watershed and how land use affects the ecological health of the watershed and Saginaw Bay. Participating students and teachers will be from K-12 districts in east central Michigan counties surrounding the Saginaw Bay Watershed and include a high percentage of students from underrepresented populations.

Contact: David Karpovich, SVSU, dsk@svsu.edu

Alliance for the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Model Schools

The Alliance for the Great Lakes is partnering with Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) to provide professional development and support for 5-7 “Great Lakes Certified” Educators who will lead curriculum integration and meaningful watershed educational experiences with 5 Model Schools, as well as help build grade level integration (3, 5, 7 and 10th) at the district level. or this project, Model School is defined as teachers integrating Great Lakes in My World curriculum and stewardship activities at multiple grade levels. Each Model School will develop a cohort of teachers who will integrate curriculum, implement a student-led project and provide meaningful watershed educational experiences for the students.
The Alliance has an ongoing relationship with:


Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District

Watershed Alive III:  A Place to Call Our Own

This meaningful watershed educational experience educates and engages 750 students and 25 teachers as they investigate Lake Michigan and its tributaries. Through professional development and direct support, teachers will gain the knowledge, and acquire the skills and resources to facilitate integration of watershed education across curricular areas (lake and river ecology, geography, glacial history, and more) as they help their students develop appreciation for a healthier watershed, provide opportunities to participate in watershed restoration, citizen science research, and community service projects. Using their own school yards, the classroom, and during three visits to a Lake Michigan Beach, students will gather and analyze water quality data to bolster their understanding of water pollution, invasive species, and how our day-to-day activities contribute to these, and other water quality issues.
Contact: Cora Lee-Palmer, MMSD CPalmer@mmsd.com


Inland Seas Education Association

Great Lakes Watershed Field Course

Inland Seas Education Association will offer the Great Lakes Watershed Field Course, open to teachers anywhere in the Great Lakes region. It begins with a 4-day experience based in Suttons Bay, MI in June 2017. We will visit projects in the Grand Traverse Region that improve watershed health: invasive species control and prevention; native species habitat improvements; nutrient run off reductions; and cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern (as defined by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative). Training will include watershed and environmental concepts, place based education and environmental education pedagogy, and time for curriculum development. Plus, there will be opportunities to sail on our tall ship schooner and enjoy our beautiful region.
Teachers who participate will get to bring their class on our tall ship schooner for a Great Lakes ecology and sailing program, and will be required to implement a watershed-based stewardship project with their students. Inland Seas will support teachers throughout the school year with additional training, online forums, and other forms of assistance. Preference will be given to teachers who are located within a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Area of Concern (Kalamazoo River, Saginaw River and Bay, Detroit River, Rouge River, Maumee River, Black River, Cuyahoga River, Milwaukee Estuary, Fox River/Lower Green Bay).
Contact: Jeanie Williams, Inland Seas Education Association jwilliams@schoolship.org

Wisconsin Maritime Museum

We All Live on the Water: Teachers as Watershed Leaders Manitowoc, Wisconsin


The Wisconsin Maritime Museum and Manitowoc Public School District have collaborated to create a professional teacher training program called We All Live on the Water: Teachers as Watershed Leaders.

Water science resource professionals from Wisconsin Maritime Museum, Wisconsin Sea Grant, Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Manitowoc Public School District provide instructional support and field experiences that train middle school teachers to understand the issues facing local watersheds and their impact on the Lake Michigan watershed. The teachers then work within their school districts as Teacher Leadership Teams to create professional development opportunities for peers that ultimately lead to the integration of watershed education into their districts' science and social science curricula and provide Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) for their students. http://www.wisconsinmaritime.org/learning-programs/we-all-live-on-the-water-teachers-as-watershed-leaders/

Contact: Matt Kadow, Wisconsin Maritime Museum mkadow@wisconsinmaritime.org

University of Wisconsin-Superior – Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve


The Rivers2Lake education program integrates Lake Superior into education as a foundation for engaging place-based learning, Great Lakes literacy, stewardship and watershed restoration.  Based at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve with a community of many partners including the National Park Service, Great Lakes Aquarium, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Bad River Watershed Association, the program provides teacher professional development through immersive summer field experiences and bi-monthly year-long mentoring and co-teaching.
Rivers2Lake engages students in through outdoor and inquiry-based learning, and provides extended resources, opportunities, and year-long support to Rivers2Lake classrooms, including transportation costs, classroom materials, and on-water field experiences.  In 2016-17, Rivers2Lake has expanded its reach along the Wisconsin coast, working with seventeen teachers and their PK-12 students along Lake Superior from Ashland, WI all the way to Floodwood, MN.
Contact: Deanna Erickson, Lake Superior NERR deanna.erickson@ces.uwex.edu

Muskegon Area ISD

Using Place-Based Education to Create Stewards of the Great Lakes

Using Place-Based Education to Create Stewards of the Great Lakes is an exemplary program that plans to address local environmental issues through place-based education (PBE) and environmental service-learning experiences for students, professional development for educators, and connecting schools to local community partners and resources.  The project will involve K-12 students and teachers across multiple disciplines, in Muskegon, Oceana, Newaygo, and northern Ottawa Counties.  The project has four main components:  (1) engaging students in meaningful watershed educational experiences using place-based education,  (2) educating teachers in the areas of place-based pedagogy, inquiry and problem-based learning, and natural resources and stewardship content related to the local environment, (3) institutionalizing PBE and environmental service-learning in 5-7 local school districts, and (4) developing an awareness of NOAA assets.  The West Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative is a collaborative effort between the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District and various community partners that uses place-based education to connect schools with their communities to create learning experiences for students that have lasting impacts on the environment.  Visit www.westmichiganglsi.org for more information.

Contact: Erica Johnson, Muskegon ISD ejohnson@muskegonisd.org

Michigan State University, Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI)

Promoting Healthy Watersheds and Communities by Integrating Ecosystem Science, Transportation Networks, and Stewardship 

This project will pilot a place-based classroom and field-investigation program with 4 teachers and their middle and high school students in southeast Michigan that will help them better understand significant wetland ecosystems in their local watersheds, how transportation networks may impact watersheds, and stewardship activities they can engage in to help address these impacts. We will focus on particularly vulnerable wetlands (vernal pools and globally imperiled lakeplain prairie, wet-mesic flatwoods, and/or Great Lakes marsh) and the relationship of transportation corridors to key stressors (e.g., invasive species) on these ecosystems in the local watersheds surrounding the I-75 corridor in Monroe and Wayne counties. Teachers and students will learn about these wetlands in a watershed context, develop and investigate questions about impacts of transportation corridors, gather and synthesize their data, design and implement stewardship actions (e.g. mapping and monitoring of invasive species or vernal pools), and share their results with relevant audiences. The training will arm teachers with field-based experience, knowledge of local wetlands and field kits that can be used with future classes. Their activities will build local community awareness to spur lasting efforts to improve the health of wetlands and watersheds. In addition, we will recruit and provide in-depth training for 50 additional teachers in the project area to implement and sustain the program over time.
Contact: Daria Hyde, Michigan State University, HYDED@michigan.gov

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ganawendan Ginibiiminaan: Bad River water Stewardship

Ganawendan Ginibiiminaan, means “Take Care of Our Water!” in the Ojibwe language. The Ganawendan Ginibiiminaan project involves Bad River tribal community leaders and scientists, NOAA personnel, and UW-Madison staff in collaboration with Ashland teachers to engage Native youth in a sustained year-round field course on the Bad River reservation including meaningful watershed investigations and monitoring to assess and address threats on Bad River land to water quality and manoomin (wild rice in the Ojibwe language). Youth will receive credit from their school district for participating in the field course. This project blends two environmental education programs that have been serving youth and teachers in the Bad River watershed of northern Wisconsin since 2011: Bad River Youth Outdoors (BRYO) and Earth Partnership Indigenous Arts and Sciences (IAS). Students will share data and experiences with peers in multiple classrooms and in the community and implement water stewardship projects. Teachers will participate in year-long professional development to support these experiences in the classroom and make connections with local and global issues using NOAA data. Teachers will involve additional students through integrating Bad River watershed monitoring and NOAA data into classroom lessons and providing complementary watershed experiences on and near school grounds and in the Bad River watershed. Community members, youth and teachers will participate in seasonal events to strengthen school-community relationships.
Ganawendan Ginibiiminaan aims to provide meaningful watershed experiences to increase native youth’s environmental literacy skills to make informed decisions in water stewardship actions, integrate Ojibwe cultural perspectives into formal education, and build capacity for school-community relationships that benefit tribal youth and families. Stewardship projects will include water quality monitoring and removal of invasive species from the tribe’s manoomin beds in the Bad River Kakagon sloughs.

Contact: Cheryl Bauer-Armstrong, UW-Madison Arboretum cheryl.bauerarmstrong@wisc.edu

Buffalo State SUNY

Our Living Watershed

Our Living Watershed is led by three highly qualified and talented New York State Master Teachers - two from a rural school district and one from an urban district. The project will combine classroom preparation, analysis and reflection with hands-on field investigations and other related activities within each of the schools’ watershed environments. In this design, the students from each school will work with their respective teachers to develop an action plan for conducting field studies including observation and documentation of macroinvertebrates and native and invasive plant species, designing and conducting sampling procedures and analyses; engaging in habitat restoration; and utilizing geographic information systems technology (GIS) to map their collected data and reflect on project outcomes. The demographic and geographic differences between the students and their respective watersheds of focus (urban and rural) add a valuable dimension of meaning to the experience.  An innovative element of the Our Living Watershed project is that the teachers and students will be working in parallel; conducting comparative studies while engaged in real time with one another through social media such as Facetime, Twitter, Tango, Facebook, blogs, etc. as well as having an opportunity to actually meet-face-to face during the project’s lifespan. They will subsequently present their findings and shared experiences to community stakeholders.

Contact: David Wilson, Buffalo State SUNY WILSONDC@buffalostate.edu