Educators set sail for science workshop on Lake Superior

Eight educators from Minnesota and eight from Wisconsin — including teachers from Arbor Vitae, Ashland, Bayfield, Madison, Merrill, Oconto and Pulaski — sailed aboard a three-masted schooner from St. Ignace, Mich., through the Soo Locks to Duluth, Minn., in August. Their guides combined native and Western water science in a hands-on teach-the-teacher experience.

“Our goals for the educators’ shipboard workshop included helping participants gain an understanding of Great Lakes ecology, getting hands-on experience sampling water quality and fostering awareness and appreciation for tribal approaches to research and natural resource management,” said Marte Kitson, workshop leader and extension educator with Minnesota Sea Grant.

This year’s shipboard science workshop included teachers, outreach professionals and Ojibwe knowledge keepers from Minnesota and Wisconsin who want to become part of a community of educators focused on increasing awareness and understanding of Great Lakes water science from both tribal and Western cultural and scientific perspectives.

“We shared the importance of Ojibwe cultural relationships to the ecology of Lake Superior and current tribal management strategies,” said Nikki Crowe, workshop leader and tribal conservation coordinator with Fond du Lac Resource Management. “Ojibwe communities’ connection to Lake Superior goes back hundreds of years.”

During the workshop, educators learned about treaty rights and tribal approaches to natural resource management, toured the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, measured water quality and identified parts of the lower food web. The crew of the S/V Denis Sullivan also taught them to sail the replica 19th-century wooden schooner.

In addition to amazing stories about their sailing adventures, workshop participants took home curricula and resources to use in their classrooms and other teaching environments. Participants earned science education and graduate course credit as well.

The Wisconsin educators were Perry Smith from Arbor Vitae Woodruff Elementary, Christina Dzwonkowski-Burns from the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission in Ashland, Michelle Carlile from Bayfield Elementary, Clare Sequin from Lincoln Elementary School, Ginny Carlton from Wisconsin Sea Grant in Madison, Olivia Dachel from Merrill High School, Kelly Koller from Oconto Falls Public Schools and Dave Landers from Pulaski Community Middle School.

“The educators will receive support from Sea Grant and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College education/outreach specialists long after the trip,” said Anne Moser, workshop leader, librarian and education coordinator with Wisconsin Sea Grant. “They will be eligible for small grants and able to borrow monitoring equipment to implement what they learned on the ship in their own teaching.”

This was the fourth year of a Great Lakes educator shipboard science workshop jointly coordinated by the Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs, which together with Sea Grant educators from throughout the Great Lakes basin are part of the Center for Great Lakes Literacy. The center seeks to foster informed and responsible decisions that advance basin-wide stewardship by providing hands-on experiences, educational resources and networking opportunities that promote Great Lakes literacy among an engaged community of educators, scientists and citizens.

Funding for the 2019 workshop came from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Thirteen Moons Extension Program and the Fond du lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

--Marie Thoms, Minnesota Sea Grant

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