Introduction to Lakes Online

for decorative purposes

Course Overview

Introduction to Lakes Online is designed for interested individuals, decision makers, local leaders, resource professionals, and lakefront property owners interested in gaining knowledge about inland lakes and connecting with others who have a similar interest. In this introductory course, participants increase their knowledge and understanding of the following six topics:

  • Lake ecology
  • Watersheds
  • Shorelines
  • Aquatic plant management
  • Michigan water law
  • Community involvement

Course instructors include Bindu Bhakta, Erick Elgin, Paige Filice, Julia Kirkwood, Dr. Jo Latimore, Brad Neumann, Mary Reilly, and Dr. Lois Wolfson.

Course Information


This course is offered once a year in January. Registration for the 2024 course is closed. Want to be alerted this fall when registration opens again?

Sign up to receive an email when registration opens

Course Format

  • Six-week class with participants advancing through the program together
  • Access to new units will be provided on a week-by-week, unit-by-unit basis with each new unit opening on Tuesdays at 8:00 AM eastern. Access to future units will be based on completion of the previous unit’s quiz. The quizzes are made up of 10 multiple choice and true/false questions.
  • Once a unit is available to view, it will remain open. 

What to expect

Every week a new unit exploring an inland lake topic will be released on our website. Participants will explore course topics through video lectures and activities such as readings and exploring interactive websites. Many units also include a discussion forum, prompting participants to interact with others and the instructional team. For those looking to dive deeper into a topic, we also provide numerous additional resources. Each unit takes approximately 2 hours to complete.

2024 course schedule

Open Date Course Topic Description
1/30 Getting Started Explore the Introduction to Lakes course website and introduce yourself to the class and instructors via discussion forums
2/6 Unit 1:
Lake Ecology
An introduction to lake ecosystems and the exploration of basic lake functions
2/13 Unit 2:
Primer on the water cycle, hydrologic features of a watershed, and land use impacts to lake water quality
2/20 Unit 3:
Review of shoreline features and functions in inland lake ecosystems and best practices to protect water quality and lake habitat
2/27 Unit 4:
Aquatic plants
Introduction to plant identification, short and long-term management techniques, and regulations regarding aquatic vegetation
in Michigan lakes
3/5 Unit 5:
Water Law
Summary of federal, state, and local laws regarding riparian rights, navigability, and permitting on inland lakes in Michigan
3/12 Unit 6:
Community Involvement
Review of institutions involved in lake management, coordinating with other lake groups, and components of a lake management plan
4/5 Certificate/CEU Deadline To receive a Certificate of Completion or Continuing Education Credits all course requirements must be met by this date

Ask-an-Expert webinars

Every other week we offer optional one hour Ask-an-Expert webinars specific to topics in the course. These are hosted by the instructional team and outside experts. During the webinar participants ask questions to a panel via a Q&A box.

2024 course syllabus and schedule

Continuing Education

The 2024 course was approved for the following:

Everyone who completes Introduction to Lakes Online is also eligible to receive a free one-year membership to the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association.

More Information

Have a question about the course? For more information, contact Paige Filice at