Vail wins 2016 Informal Science Educator Award

Janet Vail
Janet Vail

Janet Vail, a research scientist at the Annis Water Resources Institute (AWRI) in Muskegon, was awarded the 2016 Informal Science Educator Award by the Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA). 

Vail was selected for the award for her contributions to the improvement of non-school-based science education, as well as scholarly contributions.

At AWRI, Vail has provided environmental education for schools, teachers, students and businesses for more than 25 years, including 20 years with the innovative research vessel education program. More than 5,000 students and teachers take part in the hands-on science programs each year where they learn about Lake Michigan and environmental stewardship. 

Vail also organized the first of three "State of Lake Michigan" conferences and serves as co-chair of the U.S. EPA Lake Michigan Forum. During the past 18 years, Vail has conducted the "Making Lake Michigan Great" research vessel tour, which has made its way to 33 ports of call in Lake Michigan, and allows families, school groups and the general public to take part in water sampling experiments. 

In addition to her involvement with hands-on environmental education, Vail is also a facilitator for environmental education teacher workshops. She is the project coordinator for Project WET (Water Education for Teachers) and is a trainer for Project Learning Tree, GLOBE, Population Connection, and Earth Partnership for Schools. 

Vail works with several other groups to enhance professional development and has presented at many conferences that focus on education and the environment. 

The MSTA was created to fill a void in providing guidance for the improvement of science education in the state. A state chapter of the National Science Teachers Association, MSTA has grown to one of the largest science organizations of its kind in the United States.