Certainly one of the most important parts of our job at the Annis Water Resources Institute is the education of our students. We take great pride in making sure that these students, whether they are 4th graders or life-long learners, are exposed to the most recent and relevant information concerning the environment, and that they develop the critical thinking skills necessary to be productive members of society.
Education comes in many different forms at AWRI. Our vessel education program provides a hands-on learning experience largely for 4th through 12th graders, but also includes cruises for college students and the general public. Since its inception in 1986, we have carried almost 120,000 passengers on our vessels, teaching them about the Great Lakes. Hands on science programs in the R. B. Annis Educational Foundation Classroom reach hundreds more.
The training of undergraduate and graduate students is also a major part of AWRI's philosophy. In the last 3 years, a total of 47 undergraduate students have worked with different scientists at AWRI, getting real-world experience in designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and helping write up results, with some even becoming co-authors on peer-reviewed scientific publications. These experiences enhance their overall educational experience, as they can now see how activities in the classroom apply to the natural world, and vice versa.
The graduate program at AWRI is only 5 years old, but it continues to grow. We are directly linked to the Biology Department, where students can get a Masters of Science degree in Biology, with an emphasis in aquatic science. In the past 3 years, 42 graduate students have been associated with AWRI, with about half being advised directly by an AWRI scientist. We are training these students for a variety of careers or to further their education by pursuing a PhD.