National 4-H Headquarters recently named the Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) a 4-H Program of Distinction. Programs of Distinction (POD) are peer-reviewed programs that reflect the high quality of Extension youth development programs from across the United States and territories.
Based in Macomb and Wayne counties and led by senior Extension educator Steve Stewart and Extension educator Gary Williams, GLEP combines conservation education and science in the classroom and outdoors. It includes a shipboard field trip that introduces Michigan fourth graders to the Great Lakes. GLEP, which has its own curriculum and website (www.glep.us), has been replicated four times.
Michigan 4-H Youth Development, Sea Grant, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and Michigan State University Extension collaborate to make GLEP a winning program.
Since its inception in 1991, more than 80,000 students and adults from 26 communities have participated in GLEP. The program annually serves approximately 4,000 students from 160 classrooms in 20 school districts and 6 counties, including urban, suburban and rural areas. Many people had a hand in developing the GLEP curriculum, with leadership provided by Dr. Shari Dann, associate professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies; Carol Swinehart, recently retired communications manager with Michigan Sea Grant, and others. Even I had a hand in reviewing some of the materials and provided information on some of the ichthyological information in the curriculum. If you know of others who were involved in the creation of GLEP, please go to my blog and add their names as a comment on this entry.
Impact evaluation results rate GLEP as a highly successful conservation education program. Students gain knowledge of the Great Lakes and natural resources while gaining positive attitudes and strengthening stewardship intentions toward those areas.
Because of the experiential nature of GLEP, kids see and learn firsthand the importance of the Great Lakes and conservation efforts. It gets kids outdoors and in nature when many of their peers are sitting home with video games and missing out on what the great outdoors has to offer.
GLEP now joins three other Michigan 4-H Youth Development programs that were named PODs: Ottawa County Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring in 2007, Leelanau County 4-H Kids Club in 2008, and 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp in 2009.