Tag Archives: natural resources

MSU Extension staff member named CANR Staffer of the Month

Alicia Burnell, Michigan State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications graphic artist, has received the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Staff Advisory Committee March 2015 Staffer of the Month award.

The award goes to a member of the CANR support staff who has done something special or noteworthy within his or her college or unit.

Two of her colleagues from ANR Communications nominated Alicia: graphic artist Marian Reiter and former communications manager Michelle Lavra. They recognized her for her design skills, as well as her quiet confidence that comes through to her clients and colleagues and leaves no doubt that she’ll get the job done.

Congratulations to Alicia and thanks to Michelle and Marian for nominating her.

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ANR Week celebrates its centennial year

The Michigan State University campus will be housing a variety of agriculture and natural resources trainings next week March 7‒14 during the annual ANR Week on campus. Many of you may be interested in attending some of the events. Consider checking out the schedule, and referring friends and family to the events that might be of interest. Many of the trainings can be useful for individuals of any age.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of ANR Week, presented by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University Extension and MSU AgBioResearch. Debuting as “Farmers Week” in 1914, the event has since developed into more than 50 programs and annual association meetings related to agriculture, horticulture and natural resources. Learn more about the history of ANR Week on the ANR Week website.

This year’s schedule includes conferences and programs on many hot topics, including sessions on the latest Farm Bill, subsidies, the Right-to-Farm Act, the emerging trend of nontraditional farmers in minority communities, the increase in urban and suburban backyard farmers and the need for rapidly growing farmers markets.

ANR Week consistently proves to be an exciting week full of informative experiences. If you have a chance to come out and join us, we would love to have you!

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Our colleagues shine in ANREP

I recently heard from Michigan State University senior Extension educator Dean Solomon about an award one of our colleagues won at the recent Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals (ANREP) Biennial Conference that took place May 18 to 22 in Sacramento, California. ANREP is a national association of Cooperative Extension Service professionals working in environmental education, fisheries, forestry, wood sciences, range, recreation, waste management, water, wildlife and related disciplines.

 During the event, Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator, won the poster competition Gold Award for her entry “Creating Sustainable Fish Communities Through Habitat Restoration in the Huron-to-Erie Corridor.” (I find the subject of the poster MOST agreeable!) The award took first place among 57 academic posters. This project involves Mary and collaborators from Michigan Sea Grant, the U.S. Geological Survey Great Lakes Science Center, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

 Dean doesn’t like to toot his own horn but I’d like to mention here that he is currently ANREP national president-elect, assuming that role at the beginning of this year. In January 2015, he will become president, then past-president in 2016. You may recall that Dean was a recipient this February of the MSU Distinguished Academic Staff award.

 Congratulations to Mary and her collaborators ‒ and to Dean!

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Professional environmental and outdoor education association recognizes MSUE contributors

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE) honored several Michigan State University Extension colleagues from our Greening Michigan Institute’s Natural Resources Literacy and Leadership (NRLL) signature program at the statewide professional educators’ association annual conference Oct. 13 at Michigan 4-H Foundation’s Kettunen Center in Tustin, Mich.

Steve Stewart, MSUE senior Sea Grant educator from southeast Michigan, received the 2012 William B. Stapp Award, which recognizes statewide, career-long commitment to environmental education. Nominators noted Steve’s national and international leadership in Great Lakes education and his commitment to developing science-based systems of teacher and volunteer professional development. Steve felt honored by the award particularly as he was able to meet and learn from William Stapp early in his career.

Andrea Grix received the 2012 Julian Smith Outdoor Education Award, named for the MSU faculty member known as the father of the international field of outdoor education. The award goes to one individual who has made outstanding contributions to outdoor education in Michigan and who exemplifies the best in the field of outdoor education. The individual must demonstrate a lifetime of devoted service with at least 10 years of that service in Michigan. Andrea serves as program manager for the Michigan 4-H Foundation at the Kettunen Center and provides leadership for state youth and adult conservation education. She serves as the Michigan 4-H Youth Conservation Council program coordinator and as a resource person for state-level Michigan 4-H Environmental & Outdoor Education programs. She assists with 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp, and she has served on the MAEOE Board.

Bindu Bhakta, MSUE Oakland County educator, received the Recognition Award, for an individual who has made significant contributions to the fields of environmental and outdoor education. Oakland County Parks (OCP), a significant programming partner of MSUE, nominated Bindu for this award. OCP noted Bindu’s leadership impacts through the Michigan Conservation Stewards program, the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership program and other watershed-based educational partnerships.

David Holt, an MSUE conservation steward, received the 2012 Volunteer Service Award. David volunteers tirelessly with Oakland County Parks. Using his MSUE volunteer development background, and building on more than 15 years of volunteer experience of his own, he spent more than 30 hours monitoring grassland birds at Highland Oaks Park during 2011 and 2012. His field work has improved park natural resources management of these birds.

Two teachers from the MSUE-sponsored Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative received Appreciation Awards. Rebecca Heckman of Inland Lakes Schools and Brian Matchett of Alcona Community Schools bring real-world stewardship learning to students through partnerships with conservation organizations, resource agencies and businesses. Brian is a 4-H alumnus of the Michigan 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp for teen leadership, and he has served as a staff member.

Congratulations to this group for their professional impacts throughout the state, within the Great Lakes region and with international circles for their work in Natural Resources Literacy and Leadership!

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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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Director of MNFI to serve on NatureServe council

Dr. Brian Klatt, director of Michigan State University Extension‘s Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), was appointed to the U.S. Section Council of NatureServe.

 Sound natural resource management begins with knowing the extent, status and diversity of our natural resources. NatureServe, a non-profit conservation organization, represents an international network of biological inventories known as natural heritage programs. A natural heritage program exists in each of the 50 states, many of the Canadian provinces and a number of Latin American countries.

 The MNFI serves as the natural heritage program for Michigan. As such, MNFI maintains the most comprehensive database on threatened, endangered, and other rare species and high quality habitats in the state and conducts research into a variety of conservation issues. In the best Extension tradition, MNFI uses this information to inform decision makers as to sound conservation practices at individual landowner, local government, non-governmental organization, state agency and federal levels.

 NatureServe aggregates the information maintained by these programs into an international database. As a member of the U.S. Section Council, Dr. Klatt will provide input into the direction and annual goals of NatureServe and help coordinate activities across the network in the U.S. We’re fortunate to have Dr. Klatt’s leadership on behalf of Michigan and MNFI’s connection to MSUE.

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Life of Lake Superior Youth Program continues to educate with “workshops on the move”

Eleven years ago, Michigan State University Extension developed the format for the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program. And eleven years later, it continues to maintain enhanced new programming each year.

 The Life of Lake Superior Youth Program brings children, aged 9 to 14, and adults together to explore their community and appreciate the opportunities that exist nearby in the arts, natural resources, history, culture, recreation and careers, which have relevance for children living along the Lake Superior shoreline. The option to have a parent or grandparent participate with their children in every activity is one of the distinctive features of the program. This year, 51 youth participated along with 15 parents/grandparents.

 Presented by MSU Extension in Alger County, the 2011 program took place on four days and four different sites in July. A series of “workshops on the move” included:

 July 7: Attendees received sailing instructions then sailed in Munising Bay. Staff members from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, part of the National Park Service, gave a demonstration in the Bayshore Marina in Munising on personal flotation devices.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program receive sailing instructions in Munising Bay, July 7, 2011. Photo by Alana Herzog.

 
Park rangers demonstrate personal flotation devices.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore chief ranger T.C. Colyer, assisted by park ranger Bill Smith, demonstrates personal flotation devices to participants of the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program, July 7, 2011, at Bayshore Marina. Photo by Birch Smith.

 July 13: Participants learned about geomorphology (which I’m told is the study of landforms), sport fishing and logging at Kingston Plains and Kingston Lake. As part of the fishing experience, Ron Kinnunen, Sea Grant senior district Extension educator, brought a collection of aquatic invasive specimens. He talked about fish anatomy while dissecting a Lake Superior whitefish. Kids were particularly enthralled with a large stuffed and mounted Asian Carp that he brought along. Incidentally, Ron helped design the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program at its onset and has contributed every year by teaching something related to his current Sea Grant research.

 July 19: Attendees helped plant 5,000 native wildflower plugs as part of the U.S. Forest Service’s work to restore native plants at Grand Island National Recreation Area. At another site, one of the island resident’s summer home, youth went on an exploration hike and did card loom weaving, incorporating birch bark, leaves, grasses and driftwood.

 July 27: Participants paddled a 24-foot voyageur canoe in Munising Bay, learned about the area’s history at the Alger Heritage Museum, did a re-enactment skit at the fur traders’ cabin and watched a blacksmith demonstration.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe.

Participants in the Life of Lake Superior Youth Program were the crew paddling a voyageur canoe on Munising Bay, July 27, 2011. Photo by Jude Holloway.

 The event closed with an evening family fish boil celebration at the Alger Heritage Center, July 27.

 Healthy meals and snacks are part of each day of the program. Vicki Ballas, MSU Extension SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education) program associate, designed the “Captain Nutrition” component. In the past, healthy meals and snacks were always a critical part of the program. But when Vicki joined the Alger County staff, her creativity and interest in kids and nutrition, led to making the meal something the kids would be involved in preparing. All foods served are those that youth easily could teach their families to make at home. And before each meal or snack time, Vicki teaches them what they are preparing, including all food groups and making half their plates fruits and vegetables. The Captain Nutrition component of the last three years has truly enhanced the overall program.

 Since 2000, MSU Extension has partnered with more than 35 community services and their professional and technical staff to deliver unique workshops each summer. About 40 adult volunteers annually provide their services as presenters, mentors or community partners. The National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service actively participate in program planning as well as hosting Life of Lake Superior activities.

 Joan Vinette, MSU Extension educator in Alger County, attributes the program’s success to its dedicated volunteers and collaborators.

 Joan says, “It takes an intense effort to bring together all the logistics. But the rewards are in watching kids (together with peers or a parent or grandparent) enjoying outdoor learning at different venues that highlight natural features unique to Alger County. Youth get to experience recreational opportunities, scientific research, economics, cultural heritage and art that influence life along the shore of Lake Superior.”

 Visit the Life of Lake Superior Facebook page to view many more photos and some videos.

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Extension educator to present at Natural Resources Commission meeting

Mary Bohling, Michigan Sea Grant (MSG) Extension educator, has been invited to present at the Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) Parks Advisory Committee meeting today (Aug. 11) at the Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health in Lansing. The NRC is a seven-member public body whose members are appointed by the governor and subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. Commissioner Hurley Coleman chairs the committee. Kelley Smith, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) acting natural resources deputy, and Jim Dexter, MDNR acting fisheries chief, invited Mary to present the Detroit River fish consumption communications project after learning about it at the Lake Erie Citizens Fishery Advisory Council meeting earlier this year. Mary will have an opportunity to talk to the commission about her work in the Detroit area that focuses on communicating fish advisory information to fish consumers.

 In 2007, MSG requested proposals for projects addressing issues of importance in AOCs (areas of concern). As a result, Dr. Donna Kashian, assistant professor at Wayne State University, was funded for a three-year project to explore the causes, consequences and correctives of fish contamination in the Detroit River. Mary helped Donna identify local stakeholders and invited them to participate in the project. Prior to the first stakeholder meeting in 2009, some of Donna’s students conducted a survey of people fishing along the Detroit River. The survey revealed that people were either not aware of fish consumption advisories (FCAs), did not understand them or did not believe them. At the first stakeholder meeting, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) requested assistance in developing new ways of communicating the advisories. As a result, a subcommittee was formed and began developing a strategy for improving access to, and communication of, the advisories. Subcommittee members included Michigan State University Extension natural resources educator Gary Williams and representatives from Friends of the Detroit River, MDNR Fisheries, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Wayne County Department of Public Health, Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion and the Detroit Recreation Department.

 Previously, FCAs were communicated through a lengthy statewide booklet that was distributed at the point-of-sale when fishing licenses were purchased. Due to budget constraints, booklets are now only available on the Web. The booklet was also technical, could be confusing and is often viewed as very negative. The subcommittee wanted the new materials to be a positive piece that provided information about the healthy benefits of eating fish and balanced that with the need to include cautionary fish consumption information. This was a significant change in communication strategy. The subcommittee developed brochures, signage, fliers and outreach activities, and the MDCH has since updated their website and other materials using this positive strategy. The MDCH has also received two grants through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to expand the program to areas throughout the state.

 Find more information about Michigan’s fish consumption advisories at http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-54783_54784_54785—,00.html.

 Find more information on the FCA project at http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/fisheries/detroit-river-fish-consumption-advisory.html.

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Michigan Sea Grant Extension testifies at Senate committee

Michigan Sea Grant Extension (MSGE), represented by Chuck Pistis, Sea Grant Extension program coordinator, and Ron Kinnunen, Sea Grant senior district Extension educator in the Upper Peninsula, was invited to provide testimony at the Senate Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Committee, chaired by Sen. Goeff Hansen.

 The committee convened to better understand what can be done to enhance education and outreach opportunities to Michigan residents and tourists on the dangers of rip and channel currents in Michigan’s Great Lakes. In 2010, rip currents claimed 29 lives in the Great Lakes with many of those occurring in Lake Michigan.

 Ron and Chuck provided testimony, and they also leveraged the partnership we have with the University of Michigan through Michigan Sea Grant to engage other experts. They included Guy Meadows and Heidi Purcell from the Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering faculty at Michigan and Bob Dukesherer from the National Weather Service. Ron and Chuck’s presentation featured the work their team has performed to educate municipalities, agencies, residents and tourists across Michigan coastal counties on rip current awareness and beach-goer safety. They also discussed what actions are needed to enhance education and outreach on this important topic.

 In April, Michigan Sea Grant hosted the Michigan Water Safety Conference, which generated a statewide committee to address the matter of reducing rip current casualties more thoroughly. Members of the Michigan Sea Grant Extension team are now exploring possibilities of rip current warnings accessed through mobile technology and mobile devices.

 Sen. John Proos is seeking to introduce legislation on developing some statewide consistency on how communities communicate beach hazards via a flag system. The statewide committee formed in April at the conference will be utilized to obtain input.

 At the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Meeting held June 19–22 in Sheboygan, Wis., Ron Kinnunen, along with colleagues from Minnesota Sea Grant and Wisconsin Sea Grant, received the 2011 Dairyland Surf Classic Award for outstanding work in rip current safety in the Great Lakes.

 For more information on rip current safety, please visit http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/rip/.

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Fishing for solutions

I’ve spent the past two Fridays attending legislative public meetings in coastal communities on lakes Huron and Michigan to learn more about the threats posed by invasive species to the Great Lakes. The meetings resulted from a discussion with Rep. Holly Hughes of Muskegon earlier this year, in which she asked what Michigan State University Extension could do to help inform the public about the potential threats of silver carp and bighead carp if they were to become established in the Great Lakes. These and several other species, including grass carp and black carp, are commonly referred to as Asian carp species.

 Silver carp, bighead carp and grass carp have established large populations in the Illinois River. This has dramatically altered the entire Illinois River ecosystem, devastating populations of once abundant native species that had been the basis of commercial and recreational fisheries. The silver carp pose a safety risk given their habit of leaping out of the water as boats pass by, occasionally striking boat occupants and causing injury. A constructed channel connects the headwaters of the Illinois River with the Chicago River and Calumet River, which drain into Lake Michigan. With those connections, there is a high likelihood that the Asian carp species may move into Lake Michigan, and if they become established in the Great Lakes, they could dramatically alter the dynamics of the lake ecosystems and perhaps disrupt the valuable fisheries we have in our lakes and rivers.

 In the public meetings, Dan O’Keefe, Sea Grant Extension educator in Ottawa County, led off the presentations with a very thorough and up-to-date summary of the status and potential threats of these species if they become established in the Great Lakes. He was followed by Dave Clapp, fisheries research biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, who explained the plan that MDNR has developed to prevent and if necessary to respond to potential introduction of these invasive species to Michigan waters.

 What is most striking from participating in all four of the sessions is that the most reliable solution we have is one that is very difficult to achieve: never allow the Asian carp species into the Great Lakes. Prevention is by far the most certain way of managing the risk these species pose, and prevention requires actions by everyone. After boating elsewhere, boaters need to be sure they clean and check their boats, trailers and other equipment before bringing them back into Michigan waters to be sure they aren’t bringing along aquatic hitchhikers. Managers of waters that may allow for fish to swim into the Great Lakes can install and operate preventive measures such as the use of physical barriers or electric weirs to prevent fish from entering the Great Lakes.

 I was pleased to see the public respond to this challenge as they realized that there is no simple answer, no silver bullet, either to prevent the introduction of these species or to remove them if they become established. When your best solution is an informed public that is motivated to do the right thing, it will take a lot of meetings and other communication efforts to ensure that we benefit from best practices. Thanks to Dan and Dave for their willingness to spend a few Fridays informing concerned Michigan residents about these important matters.

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