Tag Archives: university of michigan

Michigan Sea Grant receives positive feedback in review process

This week, I had the opportunity to participate in the Michigan Sea Grant Planning, Implementation and Evaluation Assessment. As part of the program evaluation that the National Sea Grant Office does every four years, each state program has a site review to determine the success of its performance. We have a very special relationship with University of Michigan in which the Michigan State University Extension Greening Michigan Institute supports efforts to carry out Michigan Sea Grant programs throughout Michigan.

The review took place at Belle Isle Nature Zoo in Detroit, and included presentations from Jim Diana, director of Michigan Sea Grant; Catherine Riseng, research program manager for Michigan Sea Grant; Bill Taylor, associate director for Michigan Sea Grant; Elizabeth LaPorte, Michigan Sea Grant management team; and Heather Triezenberg, program coordinator for Michigan Sea Grant Extension. Our Sea Grant educator team of Steve Stewart, Mary Bohling, Mark Breederland, Ron Kinnunen, Dan O’Keefe and Brandon Schroeder paired with stakeholders and collaborators to effectively tell of our partnerships and describe the impact of our programs.

Preliminary feedback from the review was very positive, and the review panel indicated that Michigan Sea Grant would be rated among the top of the country. The final results of the report are expected in late December. The team also indicated that there is an unusually high level of collaboration between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, which is very high praise to receive.

I’m very impressed with the work that our staff illustrated through their review and hope that our collaboration continues to thrive!

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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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MSU Extension named to Hall of Fame

Before last month, I didn’t even know that Michigan has an Environmental Hall of Fame. I was chagrined to be ignorant about it, but I learned last Thursday that it has only been in existence for a year or two.

On May 9 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan State University Extension, along with one other organization and three individuals were inducted into the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame. MSU Extension was inducted into the hall for “providing environmental education to the people of Michigan.” MSU Extension is credited with helping to make Michigan’s environment a cleaner and healthier place to live. I’d like to think we’ve helped it be a more economically successful state as well, building on the natural assets that we share.

The Muskegon Environmental Research and Education Society formed the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame in 2012. The society is in the process of raising funds for a new Education Center at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve in North Muskegon. The completed center will house an exhibit featuring Hall of Fame members.

Other inductees last week included former Governor William Milliken, Dr. Howard Tanner, former president of the Muskegon Conservation Club Fred Wilder and the Huron Pines organization.

It was heartening to hear someone else recognize the long record of service our programs have provided and the impacts they have on participants. Our work in coastal communities through the Michigan Sea Grant partnership with the University of Michigan; our programs on forest, fish and wildlife management; our work in natural resource-based tourism; our 4-H Youth Conservation Council; our partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission ‒ all are examples of the contributions we’ve made to science-based resource management and utilization. For all who have contributed to these and similar programs in the past and present, and will continue to contribute in the future, this award belongs to you. You can view a nice plaque in room 108 Agriculture Hall.  Thanks to Ron Brown for sharing his photographs from the event.


Michigan State University Extension Director Tom Coon spoke of his appreciation for the honor bestowed on MSU Extension

On May 9, 2013, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., Michigan State University Extension Director Tom Coon spoke of his appreciation for the honor bestowed on MSU Extension in recognition of their long-standing commitment to educational programming that supports stewardship of Michigan’s natural heritage. Photo credit: Ron Brown


One feature that made the induction ceremony particularly notable for me personally was that Dr. Howard Tanner, former director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and former director of natural resources at MSU, was inducted for his individual achievements. Dr. Tanner has been recognized widely for his contributions to conservation in Michigan, credited, along with Dr. Wayne Tody, for the introduction of Pacific salmon species to the Great Lakes in the 1960s, which has generated a recreational fishery currently valued at more than $4 billion in total economic impact. But there’s more to Dr. Tanner’s conservation legacy, and I hope to read his telling of those stories in book form in the near future. Dr. Tanner has had a long affiliation with my home department, Fisheries and Wildlife, so it was a special treat to share the evening with him.

2013 inductees to the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame included (left to right) former Gov. William Milliken (represented by his son Bill Milliken), Dr. Howard Tanner, Mr. Fred Wilder, Huron Pines organization (represented by Brad Jensen) and Michigan State University Extension (represented by Director Thomas Coon).

On May 9, 2013, at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich., 2013 inductees to the Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame included (left to right) former Gov. William Milliken (represented by his son Bill Milliken), Dr. Howard Tanner, Mr. Fred Wilder, Huron Pines organization (represented by Brad Jensen) and Michigan State University Extension (represented by Director Thomas Coon). Photo credit: Ron Brown


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Lloyd Carr speaks to 4-H group about importance of mentoring

I know in some corners of the land of Green and White, it’s hard to laud those associated with the University of Michigan, but when Michigan State University Extension is able to team up with a proven leader like Lloyd Carr on an issue as important as youth mentoring even I can put aside my Sparty pride (especially now that Coach Carr is no longer roaming the sidelines at The Big House).

 Carr, the longtime football coach for the Wolverines, is a Mentor Michigan spokesperson. He visited a Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring event in West Olive to help promote the new Journey 4‑H: The Outdoor Challenge, which pairs adults with youth interested in outdoor activities.

 Coach Carr spoke about the power that adult mentors have in the lives of their mentees, and said he was lucky to have so many people mentor him when he was growing up.

 I can say we are also lucky – lucky that we have great people like Carr working to make a difference and lucky to have dedicated staff members that could put such a wonderful, impactful program together.

 Susan Fenton, Muskegon County Extension program instructor, and Harold McDermed, Ottawa County Extension program instructor, were integral in the formation of The Outdoor Challenge. They put the event on with the help of team members Lisa Bottomley, Barb Brow, BettyBeth Johns and Anne Sullivan. Another big assist came from Amber Troupe from Mentor Michigan and Rob Renes, a Mentor Michigan Leadership Council member and former Wolverine All-American who was coached by Carr. The mentoring relationship was everywhere at the event, right down to the food. A Journey mentor and mentee catered the event.

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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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National Children’s Study launched in Wayne County

I had the privilege of attending the kick-off ceremony for the National Children’s Study in Wayne County, yesterday, Jan. 26, at the Detroit Athletic Club. The study has been launching at different times in different counties across the U.S. for the past three months. Wayne County is considered one of the initial or “vanguard” counties where the first phase of the study is being initiated.

 The National Children’s Study will be the largest and most detailed study focused on children’s health and development in the history of the United States. The study will examine the effects of environment, as broadly defined to include factors such as air, water, diet, sound, family dynamics, community and cultural influences, and genetics, on the growth, development and health of more than 100,000 children across the U.S., following them from before birth to age 21. The goal of the study is to improve the health and well-being of children and to contribute to an understanding of the role of the environment in the development of health and disease. Ultimately, this understanding should help us to prevent maladies such as cerebral palsy, premature birth, autism and others.

The Michigan Alliance for the National Children’s Study (MANCS), a coalition of researchers and physicians from major health and academic institutions, is conducting the study in Michigan. These institutions include Michigan State University, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Community Health, Detroit Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Michigan and the Henry Ford Health System. Dr. Nigel Paneth, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at MSU, leads MANCS with an executive committee of researchers from each institution. Dr. Jean Kerver is study coordinator.

Michigan State University Extension is working with Drs. Paneth and Kerver as part of the collaboration. Dr. Steve Lovejoy, MSUE associate director, is a co-investigator on the project. Dr. Lovejoy and Lisa Tams, MSU Extension educator, have been on the community outreach and engagement team and have helped lay the foundation for the study in Wayne County. They have done a tremendous amount of work in order to see the study come to fruition. One of MSUE’s primary roles is to lead the effort in recruiting prospective mothers from the study area to participate in the research study. Lisa is working closely with medical professionals across Wayne County who provide care to women of childbearing age and to children. Lisa and Steve are joined in the community outreach group by Dr. Bob Brown, associate director of University-Community Partnerships, MSU Outreach and Engagement.

 The study will take place in four additional counties in Michigan – Genesee, Grand Traverse, Lenawee and Macomb. These counties will be phased in over the next few years. MSUE will play the same role in community outreach and engagement in these counties as we are in Wayne.

 MSUE also has representation on the Community Advisory Board for the study, with Dr. George Rowan, professor in the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, and Gerrylynn McNeal, Extension program associate from Wayne County, serving as two of the 17 board members.

 We look forward to working and building capacity for the study in Michigan for years to come and appreciate Steve’s and Lisa’s leadership in making sure that the study benefits from MSUE’s unique role in communities.

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MSUE contributes to the award-winning Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT)

The Michigan Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) recently won two national awards. The application won the Outstanding Achievement Award for 2010 from the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation. It also was one of four innovations to receive the State Program Innovation Award from the Environmental Council of States.

 What’s the WWAT? The WWAT is an application designed to estimate the likely impact of a water withdrawal on nearby streams and rivers. Use of the WWAT is required of anyone proposing to make a new or increased large quantity withdrawal (more than 70 gallons per minute) from Michigan waters, including all groundwater and surface water sources, prior to beginning the withdrawal.

 Why the WWAT? In coordination with the signing of the Great Lakes Compact, Michigan and the other Great Lakes states were charged with the mission of developing a statewide program to manage and regulate new and expanding large water withdrawals. Michigan responded by enacting new laws, several of which called for the development and use of a Water Withdrawal Assessment Process to manage large quantity water withdrawals. Using science as the basis for policy development, a team of scientists and agency personnel developed the process to assist individuals in determining if their proposed large capacity water withdrawal will likely cause an adverse resource impact to a nearby river or stream.

 Who’s responsible for the WWAT? That’s a complex question since so many people and organizations worked together to make the WWAT a reality. A number of individuals were associated with the development and “roll out” of the WWAT including members of the U.S. Geological Survey, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and scientists from the University of Michigan and others. A Legislated Ground Water Advisory Committee worked on this effort for several years. Our own Michigan State University Institute of Water Research (IWR) has played a key role in several steps of the legislation and assessment process. Prior to the legislation on the Water Withdrawal Assessment Process being passed, Jon Bartholic, director of the IWR, provided testimony to the state Senate Natural Resources and Environmental Policy committee and worked with Senator Patty Birkholz’s committee on public hearings throughout the state. Jeremiah Asher, IWR, created the Web-based tool. Following the development of the tool, David Lusch, senior research specialist, MSU Center for Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Science and IWR, and Jeremiah Asher were the two main presenters at a series of workshops throughout the state. Lois Wolfson and Ruth Kline-Robach, Michigan State University Extension state water quality coordinators, organized and evaluated the meetings.

 Lyndon Kelley, MSU Extension, and Steve Miller, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, organized and presented another series of workshops. Dave Hamilton and Frank Ruswick, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Paul Seelbach, Department of Natural Resources, provided outside assistance for these workshops

 In addition, MSU Extension educators were hard at work presenting other educational meetings and programs. Roberta Dow held a meeting on the WWAT as part of the MAEAP Phase I. Lyndon Kelley and Christina Curell presented WWAT information as part of four separate Extension education programs. Others who held meetings on the tool included Terry Gibb and Bindu Bhakta.

Jane Herbert, MSU Extension at Kellogg Biological Station, and Luke Reese, Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at MSU, organized a webinar with David Lusch as the speaker.
Paul Seelbach, formerly with Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Jane Herbert developed a bulletin of frequently asked questions (Extension Bulletin WQ60) concerning the Water Withdrawal Assessment Process, Considering Aquatic Ecosystems: The Basis for Michigan’s New Water Withdrawal Assessment Process.

So as you can see, it took a considerable team across multiple agencies and with a variety of expertise to make this award-winning process and application possible.

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Sea Grant turns 40

For some, turning 40 can be a dreaded event. For Michigan Sea Grant, it’s a reason to celebrate!

The Michigan Sea Grant program has shaped life—both human and aquatic—in the great lakes since its inception. And while it’s had many successes, perhaps the most notable is that it is one of the few truly cooperative efforts between Michigan’s two largest universities.

The program was established at the University of Michigan in 1969 as a research entity charged with supporting restoration and sustainability of Great Lakes fisheries. Since then, its mission has grown to include Extension and education at the K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels. In 1977, it became a cooperative program between UM and Michigan State University Extension. We’ve been helping educate people about its importance ever since.

You can read more about the evolution of this great program in the recent issue of Upwellings.

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