$200K grant boosts K-12 water resource education program

Growing up within the world’s largest freshwater system, Michigan’s K-12 students have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to dive deep into appreciation and stewardship of this vital resource. That’s the idea behind an expanding state initiative to teach students about the Great Lakes, Michigan watersheds, and the impact of people on water resources.

The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s (LEO) MiSTEM Network and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) today announced $205,028 in grants to grow that initiative. It will expand from an initial six school districts to 22 K-12 institutions, school districts, and educational partnerships across the state. Recipients are listed at the end of this article.

The grants are a collaborative effort of EGLE and Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s (LEO) MiSTEM Network to expand freshwater literacy place-based STEM education and support innovative STEM 3-P (problem, place and project-based) learning.

The directors of EGLE and LEO praised the initiative’s expansion in a news release.

“These innovative educational programs and experiences will shape tomorrow’s advocates, policymakers and champions who will value and safeguard Michigan’s waterways and watersheds,” EGLE Director Liesl Clark said.

“We applaud these schools and community partners across the state for taking advantage of this grant opportunity and working with us to gear up today’s talent for the jobs of the future,” LEO director Susan Corbin said.

The program, launched in 2019, fosters place-based freshwater literacy education and real-world science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences to engage students at all grade levels. The grants are a continuation of the 2020 From Students to Stewards Initiative (FS2S) and the 2021 MiSTEM Transformative Playbook grants. Funding is provided by the Michigan Great Lakes Protection Fund, U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, EGLE, and MiSTEM Network.

FS2S advances several State of Michigan priority objectives, including promoting water stewardship, providing quality real-world educational opportunities, and building an inclusive STEM workforce. The program is a partnership among EGLE’s Office of the Great Lakes (OGL), the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), and the MiSTEM Network. MiSTEM is a public-private partnership to increase student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The statewide MiSTEM Advisory Council operates within LEO.

FS2S intends to help close the “water literacy gap” in Michigan and grow the next generation of water stewards, leaders, skilled workers, and decision-makers needed to solve complex water issues in a changing world. The program includes a tool kit and roadmap that other schools can use to develop their own Great Lakes-based curricula. 

Six pilot school districts – Allegan Area Educational District, Comstock Public Schools, Copper Country Intermediate School District, Les Cheneaux Community Schools, Niles Community Schools, and Northport Public Schools – received FS2S grants totaling more than $55,000 in 2020. The new awardees, whose grants ranged from $5,000-$20,000, are:

  • Alcona Community Schools.
  • Alpena Public Schools.
  • Arvon Township School.
  • Atherton Community Schools.
  • Charlevoix-Emmet Intermediate School District.
  • Farmington Public Schools.
  • Forest Hills Central Woodlands 5/6 School.
  • Grand Rapids Montessori, Grand Rapids Public Schools.
  • Harrington Elementary School.
  • Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency.
  • Mt. Morris Consolidated Schools’ Mt. Morris Middle School.
  • Muskegon Area Intermediate School District.
  • Pickford Public Schools.
  • Stanton Township Public Schools.
  • Washtenaw Intermediate School District.
  • Wayne-Westland Community Schools.

 

Caption: Cedarville High School students install a monitor in a local waterway.