Educators and scientists connect on Lake Superior
During a very warm week in late July and early August, Wisconsin and Minnesota kicked off their part of a new five-year program that will connect educators and scientists throughout the Great Lakes region. Starting in Duluth, 16 teachers from four Great Lakes states—and one honorary “laker” from North Carolina—joined professional geologists, aquatic scientists, archaeologists, and other specialists for a week of immersion in Great Lakes science along the shores of western Lake Superior.
The workshop was part of the Great Lakes Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), an initiative of the National Science Foundation and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Wisconsin is receiving approximately $387,000 to support the five-year, $2.5-million COSEE Great Lakes effort. Wisconsin Sea Grant Education Coordinator James Lubner is coordinating Wisconsin’s involvement in the center, the eighth in a nationwide network.
“Public understanding of Great Lakes and ocean sciences is key to helping stakeholders make informed decisions on coastal and ocean management and personal stewardship issues,” Lubner said. “COSEE Great Lakes is engaging citizens of all ages in ways that promote a deeper understanding of our inland seas — the Great Lakes — and their influence on our quality of life and our national prosperity.”
With specialists guiding, instructing, and inspiring them, the educators in the Lake Superior Exploration Workshop visited aquariums and wetlands and studied the early geology of the continent. They seined for fish, sampled water and sediments in streams, and inferred the structure of food webs by investigating the contents of lake trout stomachs. They also learned about the climate and weather of the Lake Superior region, such special habitats as coastal wetlands and dunes, and human impacts ranging from aquatic invasive species to climate change.
In addition to Lubner, the workshop organizing team included Cynthia Hagley of Minnesota Sea Grant, Bruce Munson of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Steve Stewart of Michigan Sea Grant, and Sue O’Halloran of the University of Wisconsin Extension.
“The workshop went really well,” Lubner reported. “The teachers were very enthusiastic participants, and the scientists were terrific. The days were pretty long, but they were full of great learning opportunities.”
For more about COSEE Great Lakes, see www.coseegreatlakes.net. Click on “weblog” for photos and commentary from the Lake Superior workshop.
Next year’s workshop will explore Lake Huron from the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in Alpena, Michigan.
The specialists included:
Nancy and Marty Auer, Michigan Technological University
Betty Dahl, retired Minnesota state archeologist
Valerie Brady and George Host, UM-Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute
Lucinda B. Johnson, UM-Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute
Steve Lozano, NOAA Great Lake Environmental Research Lab
Jim Miller, Minnesota Geological Survey and the University of Minnesota
Bruce Munson, UM-Duluth
Sue O’Halloran, UW-Superior
Matt TenEyck, UW-Superior
Dr. Anett Trebitz, USEPA
Carlson awarded Weston fellowship
Caitlin Carlson of Madison, Wisconsin has been awarded the 2006 Carl J. Weston Memorial Scholarship. Carlson is currently working as an undergraduate assistant with Sandra McLellan at the Great Lakes WATER Institute, helping with a UW Sea Grant-funded research project studying the causes of beach closings along Lake Michigan.
“Ms. Carlson has taken on an inordinate amount of responsibility for an undergraduate in terms of coordinating field work, performing the microbiology, and assuring all the data is formatted into a comprehensive database,” said McLellan.
Since spring 2005, Carlson has collected and filtered sand samples from area beaches, tested them for E. Coli, Enterococci and fecal coliforms, and extracted DNA for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) processing. She said she enjoys the combination of field and lab work, finding it rewarding to follow a research project from beginning to end.
Besides helping with data analysis and field and laboratory work, Carlson has taken on the role of mentor to new undergraduates working in the lab. Over the summer, she taught three undergraduates basic microbiological and molecular techniques, and field collection of samples. McLellan said Carlson has honed her interests in science and research during her time in the laboratory.
“Her initial interests were in veterinary medicine and animal behavior,” said McLellan, “but as she has been exposed to research on the Great Lakes, her interests have broadened.”
“I have always been passionate about conservation of the environment,” said Carlson. “Lake Michigan is a sizable issue in Milwaukee, and saving the lakes and preserving aquatic ecosystems are very important issues that I am proud to be a part of.”
Established in 1995, the Weston Memorial Scholarship supports undergraduate students interested in Great Lakes and ocean issues. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to the UW Sea Grant Undergraduate Scholarship Fund, please contact Mary Lou Reeb at email@example.com or (608) 263-3296.