Summer 2005

Research Assistant Ashley Winker and UW-Oshkosh Professor Bob Stelzer investigate the role that deep stream sediments play in removing nitrogen from the environment. Photo: John Karl.

Spreading Knowlege, Stopping Exotics

Emblazoned on Kellie Thatcher’s bright blue T-shirt are the words “Clean Boats, Clean Waters.” Thatcher fills in the details of that simple message when she greets people at boat ramps this summer and talks about the importance of keeping boats free of aquatic invasive species.

She and four other college students are working at ramps from Door County to Sheboygan on Lake Michigan and along Wisconsin’s Lake Superior coast.

They’re also inspecting the boats, helping people launch or retrieve them, and handing out brochures, stickers, and wallet-sized “Watch Cards” that help identify zebra mussels, round gobies, Eurasian milfoil, and other trouble-making invasive species.

“One man the other day was particularly interested,” Thatcher said recently. “He had just bought a new motor to replace one that was ruined by zebra mussels.”

The tiny mussels can clog engine cooling systems and become virtually impossible to remove.

This is the second summer UW Sea Grant has participated in the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program run by the Wisconsin Lakes Partnership, a collaboration of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Wisconsin Association of Lakes, and the University of Wisconsin-Extension. The program is conducting similar work with more than 350 volunteers and DNR employees on smaller lakes throughout the state. UW Sea Grant Invasive Species Specialist Phil Moy is supervising the students working at Great Lakes ramps.

Last summer the students talked with more than 1,100 people at 33 ramps, Moy said.

Students Scott Allen and Paul Skawinski are also working Lake Michigan ramps, and Amanda Bade and Jenna Scheub are stationed at Wisconsin’s Lake Superior ramps. They each work one morning during the week and two full days between Fridays and Sundays.

Moy will be looking for more students next summer. He can be reached at (920) 683-4697 or

The Aquatic Sciences Center is the administrative home of the
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute & University of Wisconsin Water Resources Institute.

©2011 University of Wisconsin Board of Regents