Volume 4 2015
St. Louis River Estuary Website Wins Award
By Marie E. Zhuikov
A website (stlouisriverestuary.org)
that blends personal stories with scientific information about the St. Louis River Estuary in Minnesota and Wisconsin earned an outstanding programming award from the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network in September.
“Although the website project was led by Wisconsin and Minnesota Sea Grant-funded researchers, many local partners in both states helped develop it,” said David Hart, assistant director for extension with Wisconsin Sea Grant.
The site was recognized for its unique combination of science and storytelling, and tools that help educators, students, natural resource managers, business owners and policy makers better understand how coastal Great Lakes ecosystems work.
“Whether people come to the site because of an interest in the estuary or the people who live there, they are likely to leave having learned about other elements of the site,” said Cindy Hagley, environmental quality extension educator for Minnesota Sea Grant.
The goal of stlouisriverestuary.org is to enhance geographic awareness and stewardship of the estuary. Local people active in different aspects— such as shipping, fishing, recreation, ricing, restoration and the community—give their perspectives of the estuary in stories. The science information on the site is based on research into environmental stressors to the area. Site visitors can also challenge themselves with “GeoQuests”—iPhone-based games and geocaches that highlight key places and issues in the estuary, or they can use the “deep map” to explore area ecology and history.
The website and tools have been shared with dozens of educators and hundreds of students from regional schools through workshops by Sea Grant programs and the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The project was made possible with funding and services from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Leech Lake Tribal College, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Southern Oregon University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mid-Continent Ecology Division. Red Pebble Web Design provided Web design services and The Ohio State University provided project evaluation services. —MEZ