Tag Archives: u.s. fish and wildlife service

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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Sea Grant co-recipient of national conservation award

Michigan Sea Grant was co-recipient of a prestigious honor when the Huron-Erie Corridor Initiative (now called St. Clair Detroit River System Initiative or SCDRS) received the U.S. Department of the Interior Partners in Conservation Award from Sally Jewell, secretary of the interior.

Mary Bohling, Sea Grant Extension educator, is involved in the initiative and attended the award ceremony Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C., along with representatives of co-recipients including the U.S. Geological Survey, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. (For a list of the initiative’s collaborators, click on huron-erie.org/partners.html.)

The Partners in Conservation Award recognizes groups that make exceptional contributions in achieving conservation goals through collaboration and partnering.

Michigan Sea Grant is a founding member of the initiative’s steering committee, which includes federal, tribal, state, provincial, local and nongovernmental partners working together since 2004 to address aquatic resource and management needs in Lake St. Clair and the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. Michigan Sea Grant has managed more than $3.7 million to support the restoration and evaluation of fish spawning habitat in the river system. Since the first restoration project at Belle Isle, Sea Grant has been the lead organization for three fish habitat restoration grants and will oversee reef construction efforts at two additional sites in 2014.

Approximately 2.5 acres of restored spawning habitat increased the spawning success of more than 12 native fish species. By the end of the 2014, initiative partners will have created nearly 10 acres of deep water, rocky spawning habitat for lake sturgeon, lake whitefish and walleye in the river system helping boost populations of these valuable fish.

When asked about the award, Mary said, “It is an honor to be a part of such an amazing team of scientists, educators and engaged citizens all working to improve conditions for fish and wildlife in the Detroit and St. Clair rivers and Lake St. Clair and to be recognized by the secretary of the interior.”

Michigan Sea Grant College Program is a cooperative program of the University of Michigan (UM) and Michigan State University (MSU) and is part of the National Sea Grant College Program. Michigan Sea Grant receives core funding from National Sea Grant within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Matching funds come from the UM, MSU, additional Michigan universities and other nonfederal sources.

Read more in the U.S. Department of the Interior Partners in Conservation Awards Ceremony program: www.doi.gov/news/upload/PIC-2013-Final-Event-Program-1-16-2014.pdf

Read more and see a photo of the recipients in Mary’s MSU Extension News article: msue.anr.msu.edu/news/michigan_and_ontario_groups_earn_prestigious_department_of_interior_partner

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4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp recognized as one of top 4-H science programs, report on study released

We knew all along that Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp is a great pre-college program for kids to learn through outdoor hands-on experiences and have fun in the process. Others have noticed as well. In 2008, the annual seven-day camp held on the shores of Lake Huron in Presque Isle, Michigan, was named as a 4-H Program of Distinction. In 2009, it won the National 4-H and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resources Conservation Education Award.

 In 2011, it was selected out of 70 nominations of promising science programs through a structured process of nominations and vetting as one of eight top science programs in a National 4-H science program in-depth case study. The study was part of the 4-H Youth Development Program’s National Science Initiative evaluation funded by the Noyce Foundation through a grant to National 4-H Council.

A new report was recently released on the case study. “Priming the Pipeline: Lessons from Promising 4-H Science Programs,” written by Derek Riley and Alisha Butler from Policy Studies Associates, features the camp and the seven other selected science programs. It covers practices in the following areas: youth outreach and recruitment, staff and science volunteers, professional development, science curricula and pedagogy, youth development and attitudes toward science, partner organizations and resource support, program evaluation, and program sustainability and scale-up.

Senior program leader Judy Ratkos serves as camp administrator and co-directs the camp with 4-H volunteer Bob Patterson.

Judy said, “It is truly an honor for the staff and volunteers involved in 4-H Great Lakes & Natural Resources Camp to have it recognized as one of the top 4-H science programs in the nation. To have it held up as a model for other youth science programs – both within and outside of 4-H – creates awareness that MSU Extension can help lead the way in increasing science literacy among Michigan young people and increase the number of youth pursuing postsecondary education and careers in science.

“The lessons shared in this newly released report should be helpful to other 4-H science programs striving to be ‘SET Ready.’ A SET Ready 4-H experience is a program that is framed in science, engineering and technology concepts based on SET standards and intentionally targets the development of SET abilities and the outcomes articulated by the 4-H SET Logic Model,” Judy said.

Congratulations to Judy and her team! They inspire the rest of us to make the best even better.

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Through Toyota 4-H2O grant, Michigan 4-H Youth Development continues to educate kids experientially

For the fourth year, Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development has received a Toyota 4-H2O grant. The $65,000 grant is divided between two areas: $50,000 goes to continue the yearlong 4-H2O projects in Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties along with a cluster of counties in northeastern Michigan. The remaining $15,000 supports the 2011 4-H National Youth Science Day activities that will take place throughout the state Oct. 1–8.

Oakland County puts the Toyota 4-H2O grant money to work with “I pledge my hands to larger service,” a campaign focused on involving elementary through high school-aged youth in water issues and water-related cleanup efforts. Youth also learn about water issues hands-on when they attend the 4-H2O Eco-Challenge summer weeklong camp at Indian Springs Metropark in August.

In Washtenaw County, the Huron River Watershed Council partners with MSU Extension to teach students about community-based water resources such as the Huron, Detroit, Ottawa-Stony and Raisin watersheds. The kids test the quality of the water and learn how their daily actions can have an effect on that quality.

In Wayne County, the grant allows students in the Detroit area schools to continue to engage in the Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) “School Ship” cruises. Students study curriculum in the classroom that prepares them for the cruise. On the boat, students visit stations that involve them in learning about life on board.

Through Toyota 4-H2O, the Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service give students in northeastern Michigan a chance to participate in shipboard learning experiences. Students will conduct water quality tests from Lake Huron, the Ocqueoc River and the Trout River. MSU Extension staff members prepare teachers who in turn teach the students.

The grant allows kids the opportunity to learn science using a hands-on approach and relate what they learn to real-world experiences. It also gives them a taste of career options that they previously may not have known existed.

This is just another great example of how we are effectively carrying out our I Know MI Numbers science literacy initiative, providing science education in a non-formal setting using an experiential, learn-by-doing method and sharing it with teachers in formal school settings.

The Toyota 4-H20 Project is funded by a grant from Toyota to National 4-H Council and the Michigan 4-H Foundation.

To read more about 4-H Youth Development and the Toyota 4-H2O grant, click here.

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MNFI scientist honored with national award

The Partners in Flight Awards Committee selected Dr. Joelle Gehring, senior conservation scientist for Michigan State University Extension‘s Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI), to receive a national award for her contributions toward bird conservation, specifically her work on bird collisions with communications towers.

Partners in Flight (PIF) came about in 1990 in response to growing concerns about declines in the population of many land bird species. PIF is a cooperative effort involving partnerships among federal, state and local government agencies, philanthropic foundations, professional organizations, conservation groups, industry, the academic community and private individuals.

Dr. Gehring’s research on lighted communication towers has paved the way for reducing collision mortality of birds, perhaps worldwide. More than 100,000 lighted communication towers are located in the U.S. It’s conservatively estimated that these towers cause the death of between four million and 50 million birds a year in our country alone. Dr. Gehring conducted the first fully replicated research on the effects of various types of communication towers with various types of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lighting systems on the collision rates of birds. She discovered that by extinguishing the red, steady-burning L-810 lights but leaving on the strobe or incandescent blinking lights, collision mortality can be reduced 50 to 71 percent. In other words, her work may save the lives of millions of birds a year.

According to Dr. Brian Klatt, MNFI director, the FAA is currently reviewing its regulations to incorporate Joelle’s findings into the lighting requirements for towers across the U.S.

Presentation of the award takes place at the 76th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Kansas City, Mo., during the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director’s Reception on March 17, 2011.

This story strikes close to home for me, since my own area of research and teaching has been in the area of fish (and wildlife) conservation. What I especially appreciate about Joelle’s work is that it runs contrary to a common theme I experienced earlier in my career: a common reaction of conservationists was to recognize that something causes a problem for wildlife (or fish) and the only solution we could come up with was to ban whatever caused the problem. That may be a prudent reaction in the short term, but often “stop the” whatever would be promoted as a long-term solution. Banning communication towers, airport lighting and wind turbines isn’t a likely short- or long-term solution to bird strikes. Joelle’s work reflects an attitude that “if we study this carefully and think about this logically, understanding the behavior of birds should give us some opportunities to find solutions that have a more lasting impact.” Her diligence and creative research really are monumental in their impacts on bird conservation. We’re fortunate to have colleagues like Joelle to help inspire all of us to think creatively and find solutions built on scientific understanding of a situation. I’m really pleased the Partners in Flight have seen fit to recognize her innovation and determination to solve challenges.

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Michigan Natural Features Inventory partners to win EEI award

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recognized Michigan State University Extension’s Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) for its work in development of the “Redbook” for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). The Redbook is a compilation of information regarding natural resources and management at 125 sites in highway rights-of-way that MDOT manages for preservation of natural features, including threatened and endangered species. MNFI partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to produce the document. Ed Schools, senior conservation scientist, and Suzan Campbell, conservation associate, led the effort at MNFI. The award was made as part of FHWA’s Exemplary Ecosystems Initiative (EEI) awards program; only seven such awards were made nationwide, with two going to projects in Michigan.

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