GVSU-related program awards grants to K-12 districts for promoting water education

The From Students to Stewards Initiative promotes water education for K-12 students.
The From Students to Stewards Initiative promotes water education for K-12 students.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

Six school districts in Michigan have been selected for grants under a Grand Valley-related program that will teach elementary through high school students about the Great Lakes, Michigan watersheds and the impact people have on water resources across the state.

The From Students to Stewards Initiative is a collaboration among the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE); Michigan Department of Education; and the MiSTEM Network at Grand Valley.

The program prepares students for high-quality, water-focused STEM careers and connects them with community organizations and local businesses that are dedicated to freshwater stewardship. Lessons learned from this initial round of funding will be built into a toolkit and roadmap that other schools can use to develop their own Great Lakes-based curriculum.

Additional funding opportunities through the program may be available in the future to support this work.

“This project is a great example of how the MiSTEM Network builds coalitions among state agencies, the university and school districts to learn what it takes to successfully implement place-based learning, a key approach for engaging youths as stewards in their local communities and to see the authentic applications of their learning,” said Larry Wyn, program manager for the MiSTEM Network at Grand Valley. 

Emily Finnell, Great Lakes senior advisor and strategist at EGLE’s Office of the Great Lakes, said fostering stewardship for all age groups is part of EGLE's core mission.

“The From Students to Stewards Initiative is a critical step toward ensuring that every student in the State of Michigan has access to place-based, water-focused education and quality experiential opportunities," Finnell said. "We are proud to join our partners at the MiSTEM Network and the Department of Education in supporting these projects.”

The following districts will integrate water literacy principles and place-based education into school curricula and their continuous improvement plans:

• Allegan Area Educational District, Allegan County, $10,000. To engage the Outdoor Discovery Center Education Network to provide teachers place-based education training and resources.

• Comstock Public Schools, Kalamazoo County, $10,000. To develop a long-term monitoring project on the Kalamazoo River and Morrow Lake for kindergarten through eighth grade students. Also, integrate existing freshwater focused projects and allow students to connect with the lake and river over a number of years.

• Copper Country Intermediate School District, Houghton County, $10,000. To establish and lead a Water Literacy Consortium for the western Upper Peninsula and organize a regional summit to identify best practices and share success stories for water-focused, place-based education. Also, expand teacher professional development opportunities and build on the existing structure of Meaningful Water Literacy Learning Experiences.

• Les Cheneaux Community Schools, Mackinac County, $9,894. To connect with Lake Superior State University’s MiWaterNet study system to teach students in grades nine through 12 about high-tech, real-time water monitoring. Also, expand freshwater-focused, place-based education opportunities and also help the community through the collection of additional water data.

• Niles Community Schools, Berrien County, $9,473.80. To develop a year-long Earth Science course with water as its central theme, guided by the Great Lakes Literacy Principles and Michigan’s Science and English standards. The coursework will include field work, water quality testing and classroom-based labs, as well as multi-media learning opportunities.

• Northport Public Schools, Leelanau County, $6,500. To integrate freshwater literacy principles into the development of community action projects related to regional watershed conservation efforts. The projects will be integrated into grades five to 11 and will partner with the Inland Seas Education Association and Grand Traverse Ottawa and Chippewa Indians to expose students to water-focused career opportunities.



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