Tag Archives: steve stewart

Senior Extension educator selected as the 2015 Informal Science Educator

Steve Stewart

Stephen Stewart

The Board of the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) has announced that Stephen Stewart has been selected as the 2015 Informal Science Educator. The winner was chosen for unique and extraordinary accomplishments, active leadership, scholarly contributions and direct and substantial contributions to the improvement of nonschool-based science education over a significant period of time. Employed by Michigan State University Extension since 1977, Stephen is a senior educator with Michigan Sea Grant Extension.

“This award does mean a lot to me because I think it’s always very rewarding and gratifying when your peers and your constituents are the ones giving you the awards,” he said. “No way is it a one-way award, because what I’ve accomplished I’ve done with the help of my Extension colleagues and my other colleagues in the Michigan Science Teachers Association.”

Stephen will be honored at an awards ceremony during a special dinner at the 2015 MSTA Conference in February 2015. We are proud of his accomplishments and thankful for his continued dedication.

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Filed under Accomplishments, Sea Grant Extension

Summery Discovery Cruise interrupted by dramatic rescue

During the summer, Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Sea Grant and the Huron-Clinton Metroparks collaborate to offer educational cruises to the public on Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie. The Summer Discovery Cruises (SDC) allow participants to learn about various aspects of these bodies of water depending on the cruise theme – and there are more than 20 themes to choose from.

Retired MSU Extension educator Patrick Livingston narrates the Bob-lo Island Cruise. Patrick is the ideal person for the job since he’s author of Summer Dreams: The Story of Bob-lo Island¸ a history of the island recognized by the Library of Michigan as a Michigan Notable Book of 2009.

On August 11, the education vessel the E/V Clinton carried passengers enjoying the Bob-lo Island Cruise. In addition to Patrick, senior Sea Grant Extension educator Steve Stewart and Extension program workers Elizabeth Nebel and Jenna Roy provided expertise. All are experienced SDC and Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) instructors. Captain Norm Raymond piloted the ship.

During the cruise, Captain Raymond heard Sarnia, Canada, Coast Guard Radio broadcast a Mayday distress call regarding a personal watercraft going in circles with nobody on board. The captain informed the MSU Extension staff of the alert and asked them to keep an eye out for anybody in the water. Anyone in that position that day would be in trouble. The air temperature at 71 degrees and a wind speed of 11 mph created conditions for cold water and waves a foot high.

The captain soon spotted two people clinging to a buoy. As the Clinton approached the buoy, one of the people began to swim toward the boat and climbed the boarding ladder our staff had deployed. The staff assisted the shivering teenager to a seat. He explained that he and his father had been on a Jet Ski and the choppy waves threw them off. The current took the Jet Ski into the lake and they could not safely attempt to retrieve it, choosing instead to cling to the buoy. He thought they had been in the water approximately 45 minutes. Fortunately, both he and his father were wearing personal flotation devices.

As the boat came about to retrieve the boy’s father still clinging to the buoy, a Canadian Coast Guard vessel approached at high speed. The Clinton stood off as crew in the Canadian vessel pulled him from the water. As soon as the Canadian Coast Guard vessel crew members had secured the father aboard, they came alongside the Clinton and our staff transferred the young man to the Coast Guard boat. The Coast Guard vessel then went to retrieve the Jet Ski and the Summer Discovery Cruise continued.

After the cruise, our MSU Extension staff reflected on the rescue, the need for safety aboard any vessel regardless of size and the fact that safety training each season – including man-overboard drills – had prepared them to act quickly, calmly and effectively.

They acted so calmly that one participant wrote on the cruise evaluation form: “We especially enjoyed the rescue re-enactment – well done!”

If you’re interested in learning more about these local bodies of water, consider participating in a Summer Discovery Cruise next summer. Find all the details at www.discoverycruises.org.

Steve Stewart said, “While we don’t promise excitement of this magnitude on every Summer Discovery Cruise, we can promise that participants will have a unique learning experience.”

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Filed under Sea Grant Extension

Scientific study leads students to success in Eco Challenge

A team of eighth-grade students from Harper Woods Middle School won a $15,000 prize in the Final Challenge of the Lexus Eco Challenge. The team had previously earned $10,000 in scholarships and grants in a preliminary round, which qualified them to participate in the Final Challenge that took place in January and February.

The middle school is in Harper Woods, a city in Wayne County on Detroit’s northeast border. The school serves urban youth, kids who previously have had little to no exposure to the natural world of shorelines and lake waters.

The team, the Eco H20 Preservers coached by teacher June Teisan, entered the Land and Water Challenge part of the contest. They investigated water pollution in Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), provided guidance and financial support for the development of Basic Observation Buoys (BOBs) and Basic Information Floats (BIFs) the students used to collect water quality data.

The Michigan Sea Grant Extension and Harper Woods connection began in 2007 when senior Extension educator Steve Stewart met June at a Great Lakes Observing System workshop hosted by Michigan Sea Grant Extension. June was interested in involving her students in Great Lakes studies and stewardship, and using Great Lakes data in the classroom was a way to begin. At the time, Steve served as Michigan coordinator for the Great Lakes Center for Ocean Science Education Excellence (COSEE Great Lakes), a multi-state project funded by the NSF and NOAA.

Steve was able to provide June with some initial COSEE funding to attend a teacher-training workshop in Connecticut and fund the materials for the first BOBs in Michigan, which she and her students deployed in 2011 on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. She has spearheaded a number of additional projects – all focusing on Great Lakes studies and stewardship – which Steve has supported with curricula, educational materials and opportunities for her students to share their experiences.

Steve said, “My role, and the contribution of Michigan Sea Grant Extension, has been one of identifying possibilities and facilitating opportunities for June and her students as they seek to become more knowledgeable about and stewards of our Great Lakes. June and her students are a great educational success story. This experience could be an introduction for some to a career in the STEM fields.”

Through the project, students have increased interest in lakes, wetlands, water quality and environmental stewardship. The eighth graders learned hands-on, gathering data and testing equipment. These student scientists worked through the winter months to disaggregate the data and prepare for BOB deployment in the spring. They teamed up with a teacher and 7th grade class from Buffalo, New York, who deploy a BOB on their side of Lake Erie. The collaboration resulted in a more rich data stream for the students to analyze and excitement about connecting with New York peers.

The team will use some of their prize money to fund their participation in the 10th Biennial Lake Superior Youth Symposium May 16‒19 at Michigan Technological University. At the symposium, the team will present their work to students and teachers from around the Great Lakes.

Congratulations to June and the team!

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Filed under Sea Grant Extension

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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Filed under Awards

GLEP becomes 4-H Program of Distinction

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.


Filed under 4-H