Tag Archives: brandon schroeder

Rich connections in District 14 affect students throughout the state

We asked Brandon Schroeder, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Sea Grant educator, to share with us about a strategic connection he has made that has strengthened his impact. Brandon’s current programming efforts involve fisheries science, biodiversity conservation, sustainable coastal tourism and Great Lakes education: working with coastal communities in northeastern Michigan to apply science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues locally.

“I value my Extension role in making connections and building relationships, and believe it’s an important role we play in our communities,” Brandon said.

Our questions and Brandon’s answers follow:

Will you tell us about a strategic connection you’ve made?

One successful educational partnership I’d like to highlight is with the statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) and our leadership for the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) network. These relationships reflect rich connections made between schools and educators across northeastern Michigan – and the entire state – as well as fostering greater school-community partnerships. This place-based stewardship education initiative seeks to engage youth, through their learning, in environmental stewardship projects that make a difference in the community – and so youth also are connected as community partners.

How did you go about making the connection and building relationships?

  • Seeking organizational partners, building personal relationships: Early on, we identified an opportunity (with funding) to partner with the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and an emerging statewide GLSI network. With this in mind, we sought out and met regularly to recruit potential school and community partners who had mutual interests in connecting Great Lakes and natural resource stewardship with school learning opportunities.
  • Networking in regional meetings to foster relationships: In 2006, collaborating with 4-H colleagues, we hosted and facilitated the first of many regional networking meetings inviting school and community partners who had much to contribute and to gain in this Great Lakes and natural resource education conversation. This was an educational workshop also designed to serve a networking function by facilitating relationship-building and resource sharing among schools and partners. Conversations sparked during our first regional networking meeting, now an annual tradition, became the foundation for the NEMIGLSI partnership.
  • Facilitating an engaged leadership team: A regional leadership team for the NEMIGLSI was established and helped launched the initiative. This regional team still meets regularly to coordinate our educational efforts, provide shared leadership in implementing activities and collaborate around new opportunities (and securing new resources) for our growing NEMIGLSI network. Our leadership team is more than an advisory group; they are active contributors and beneficiaries in this joint programming.
  • Sharing investment, sharing successes: Leadership team partner organizations – community, school and teacher advisors – contribute significant time, expertise and resources toward NEMIGLSI network goals. In trade, we work to ensure that network programming and successes align with their own goals and educational initiatives.

What has been the outcome of this connection and how has it influenced your work and your district?

Our NEMIGLSI network and partnership is successfully fostering a growing place-based education culture in northeastern Michigan. Since 2009, more than 19,000 students (around 20 percent of student population annually) have engaged as Great Lakes stewards and valued community leaders through NEMIGLSI. This initiative has supported more than 35 schools (290 educators) from eight counties in professional development, community partners connections and stewardship project support. Numerous NEMIGLSI student projects have directly benefited Sea Grant and partner priorities helping to conserve Lake Huron’s biodiversity, map threatened and endangered species habitat, restore native fisheries, monitor water quality and vernal pool wetlands, manage invasive species, enhance aquatic habitat, investigate marine debris and more. A published program evaluation found that students value their learning experiences as hands-on and engaging, community connected, career oriented and fun. Perhaps most exciting is that students are serving as valued community and conservation partners today – and perhaps even more in their future!

Schroeder stands in the pond with three boys and is explaining the monitoring device in the water.

Schroeder engages students in wetland ecology: invasive phragmites monitoring.

Schroeder and a boy and a girl hold up a large net to do fisheries sampling.

Schroeder fisheries sampling with students during 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp

What have you learned (personally or professionally) from this connection?

  • Embrace the power in partnerships! We can all cover more ground more efficiently and effectively, and achieve deeper, richer impacts as a result of collaborative programming. Relationships and connections (or partnerships) are both organizational AND personal. They demand significant time, energy and a bit of patience to foster, and require ongoing attention, commitment and care.
  • Relationships and partner connections are equally important to our science or technical content expertise, and the educational processes and methods we use to deliver this content in communities.
  • In Extension, I have found the most vibrant and exciting projects to be at the intersections of stakeholders and opportunities that wouldn’t normally (or as regularly) cross paths. For example, connecting schools, educators and youth with Great Lakes scientists or community development partners. Many times I find that community expertise, ideas and resources abound once we have simply helped open a door for networking and relationship-building.

Thanks again to Brandon for taking time to share with us about his strategic connections. One of our great strengths in Extension is our ability to bring people, organizations and resources together to make a profound impact on our state. Each month, I’ve shared a story from each district highlighting strategic connections our colleagues have made in hopes that it will inspire all of us to reach out.

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Filed under 4-H, Conservation, Impacts, Invasive species, Partnerships, Sea Grant Extension, strategic connections

Congratulations to Michigan Sea Grant Educators

The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network honored Michigan Sea Grant Extension with three awards during the network’s semi-annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mary Bohling – who serves the urban Detroit area addressing economic development, habitat restoration, coastal tourism and greenway/water trail development – received a mid-career award.

Brandon Schroeder – who serves coastal counties along Lake Huron in fishery, coastal tourism, business development, and youth engagement in coastal community development and stewardship – received the Distinguished Service Award.

The network also awarded the Michigan Sea Grant program with the network’s Great Lakes Outreach Programming Award for its Sustainable Small Harbors project, which aims to assist coastal communities in their planning efforts.

Read more about the awards on our Michigan State University Extension website.

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Michigan Science Teachers Association Names MSU Extension Sea Grant Educator the 2017 Informal Science Educator of the Year

Headshot of Brandon Schroeder in front of green leaves, wearing a blue polo that says Sea Grant.Congratulations to Brandon Schroeder, Michigan State University (MSU) Extension Sea Grant educator, for his selection by the Michigan Science Teachers Association for its 2017 Informal Science Educator of the Year Award. The award honors those who have made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of science education in an informal or nontraditional school setting.

Brandon is the Northeast Michigan District Extension educator for northern Lake Huron coastal communities and provides programming in tourism, community, economic development, natural resources, water quality, and lakes, streams and watersheds.

Brandon works with school-community partnerships, provides professional development for educators and supports youth working on stewardship projects as part of the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. He also leads efforts around MSU Extension’s statewide 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp. Find out more about the award and about Brandon on our website in his feature article by Cindy Hudson.

Congratulations again, and thank you for your service!

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Placed-based education documentary airs tonight

Michigan State University Extension contributed to a PBS placed-based education documentary produced by documentary filmmaker Bob Gliner. “Growing Up Green” will air on PBS nationally throughout the month of April.

Extension educator Brandon Schroeder let us know about the documentary: “Two of the nine hubs leading this work in Michigan are MSU-led – our Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) and GRAND Learning Network (Shari Dann) – and so we are well represented in this statewide GLSI documentary. Exciting!”

Kelley Hiemstra, District 4 coordinator said, “What a great example of MSUE programs. It has all of the components, great partners, education, and leadership AND now nationally recognized.”

Read Brandon’s MSU Extension news article to find out more about the program: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/growing_up_green_documentary_explores_great_lakes_place_based_education

Watch tonight! The first showing is at 10:30 p.m on PBS station WCML in Alpena, WCMV in Cadillac, WCMZ IN Flint and WCMW in Manistee. It will be showing on various PBS stations at various times across Michigan throughout April. Brandon’s article contains a broadcast schedule for the documentary.

Congratulations to all on your hard work!

View details and trailer online at http://www.docmakeronline.com/growing_up_green.html

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MSU Extension works closely with award-winning teacher contributing to environmental education

One of the outstanding things about our organization is the way that our partnerships build capacity in community leaders.

 Bob Thomson, a Sanborn Elementary School teacher in Ossineke, Mich., who works closely with Michigan State University Extension, won a Chevrolet GREEN Educator Award. Through the award, Earth Force and the General Motors Foundation team up to reward educators who integrate quality environmental education into their schools. Bob works with Michigan Sea Grant, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, 4‑H Youth Development and Huron Pines AmeriCorps program to guide his students in learning about the Thunder Bay watershed beyond the classroom.

 MSU Extension is connected with Bob Thomson’s work in three ways: 

  • The Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NE MI GLSI) initially supported Bob’s work. This is a regional collaborative network, part of a statewide place-based education programming network supported by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust. Michigan Sea Grant, partnering with 4-H, facilitated the early planning discussions dating back to 2006 in establishing this regional northeastern Michigan network. Today, Sea Grant and 4-H continue to serve as leadership partners in facilitating the NE MI GLSI work in our region. 
  • The Toyota-supported 4-H2O Project, a water science and education initiative, supports Bob and his work. The Toyota 4-H2O Project is funded by a grant from Toyota to National 4-H Council and the Michigan 4-H Foundation. Sea Grant and 4-H partners locally, co-coordinating 4-H2O efforts with the help of Extension educators Sienna Suszek and Melanie Chiodini, Extension program associate Tammy Barrett and Extension program instructor Les Thomas. 
  • Sea Grant is a direct partner to Bob’s project, supporting Great Lakes fisheries and aquatic invasive species studies conducted with his class. Brandon Schroeder, Northeast Michigan District Sea Grant Extension educator, serves as a resource expert to his class and participates in several of their exploration field trips.

 Brandon shares about Sanborn’s place-based water science education partnership, “What’s most exciting is that MSUE has been able to directly support Bob’s class through different yet complementary angles, strategically bringing to the school partnership ‘table’ both 4-H Youth Development (focused on enhancing youth learning) teaming up with Michigan Sea Grant (fostering Great Lakes science education and engagement). This reflects another great example of collaboration between two MSU Extension programs and expertise, and Bob’s class has benefited greatly as a result!”

View this video featuring Bob’s class as one of several school projects of the NE MI GLSI:

 See the October 2011 edition of “Upwellings,” a quarterly Sea Grant publication, to read more about Bob and his relationship with Sea Grant. The newsletter featured his work as an exemplary model of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education programming. (See page 5.)

 Read this fact sheet for details about fifth and sixth grade students from Sanborn Elementary studying the Thunder Bay watershed through the help of these collaborations.

 These partnerships are great examples of how our work branches out, enabling others in the community to improve lives.

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4-H GLNR campers contribute to science through coastal inventory of threatened plant

At 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp, teens learn about Michigan’s natural resources through amazing hands-on experiences. This year, that included inventorying and mapping federally and state-threatened Pitcher’s thistle plant in three coastal Lake Huron areas within Presque Isle County. The campers inventoried almost 1,700 plants previously known to be in the region but never surveyed. The work was not only a learning experience for the campers but also a scientific contribution. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Michigan Natural Features Inventory (a program of MSUE) are now utilizing campers’ GPS points of these plant populations to monitor this particular plant species near northern Lake Huron. Find the full story and photos at http://4h.msue.msu.edu/4h/today/article/2011_4_h_great_lakes_and_natural_resources_campers_make_important_discovery.

4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp, a Michigan State University pre-college program, was one of ten programs selected nationwide to be part of an in-depth case study of high-quality 4-H science programs. The camp also received the National 4-H and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resources Conservation Education Award in 2009 and was recognized as a National 4-H Program of Distinction in 2008. Find out more about the camp at http://4h.msue.msu.edu/4h/glnrc.

Brandon Schroeder, MSU Sea Grant Extension educator; Jordan Burroughs, outreach specialist in the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife; and Judy Ratkos, senior program leader in MSU Extension’s Children and Youth Institute; provide leadership for the camp.

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Sea Grant educator receives environmental education award

Brandon Schroeder, Michigan State University District Sea Grant Extension educator, received the Bill Stapp Award Oct. 8 at the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE – one of my favorite acronyms) Awards Banquet.

 The MAEOE bestows the William B. Stapp Award on only one individual each year who has made outstanding contributions to environmental education in Michigan, exemplifies the best in the field of environmental education, demonstrates a lifetime of devoted service and has spent at least 10 years working in Michigan.

 Some of Brandon’s nominating letters describe him as “an inspiring leader,” “a great partnership builder,” “humble, considerate and respectful” and “one of the most dedicated supporters of environmental education that I have met.” One supporter wrote, “Brandon has a wonderful way of transferring his knowledge of the environment to students and the general public in a way that not only generates interest, enthusiasm, and involvement – but is logical and easy for them to understand.” I would add that he’s a pretty good fisherman, too.

 Congratulations, Brandon!

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