A six-week online course designed for those interested in learning about inland lakes. Participants learn and explore lake ecology, watersheds, natural shorelines, water law, aquatic plants, and citizen involvement.

Michigan is blessed with more than 11,000 inland lakes and each provides unique recreational, scenic and environmental benefits. These inland lakes are complex ecosystems and are often negatively impacted by both the people that live near them as well as the water that drains into them. Frequently, local communities struggle to protect and manage inland lakes in a way that incorporates the best available knowledge and resources. Concerned citizens, decision makers, local leaders, resource professionals and lakefront property owners can learn about inland lake management and protection by enrolling in the MSU Extension Introduction to Lakes online course. 

Introduction to Lakes is a six-week online course specially designed for lake users, lakefront property owners, and lake managers interested in learning about inland lakes. From the comfort of home or office, participants have 24/7 access to six online units complete with closed captioned video lectures, interactive activities, additional resources, discussion forums, quizzes and live chat sessions with classmates and Michigan State University Extension experts. Through this convenient format, participants increase their knowledge and understanding of the following topics:

  1. Lake ecology
  2. Lakes and their watersheds
  3. Shorelines
  4. Michigan water law
  5. Aquatic plant management
  6. Community involvement in lake stewardship

The course is taught on a week-by-week basis, allowing for online communication between classmates and instructors through topical discussion forums. The course also includes three Ask-an-Expert webinar sessions with instructors and outside experts. Course instructors include Bindu Bhakta, Erick Elgin, Paige Filice, Dr. Jo Latimore, Brad Neumann, Mary Reilly and Dr. Lois Wolfson.

Too busy for the 2021 course but want to be notified when we offer it next? Sign up for course offering alerts here.   

2021 Introduction to Lakes Online Course

Registration is now open! The 2021 course will run from January 19th to March 26th. The cost of the course is $115 per person. Register by December 28, 2020 for an early bird price of $95 per person. Registration closes January 14, 2021.

Course Information
Access to materials will be provided on a week-by-week, unit-by-unit basis. The first week starting January 19th kicks off with a getting acquainted unit. The following week starting January 26th participants will have access to Unit 1: Lake Ecology. Every week a new unit will open on Tuesdays at 8:00 AM EST. Participants will not have access to all units at once. Access to units will be based on the completion of the previous unit quiz and the date. Three one hour Ask-an-Expert webinars are scheduled for Noon on February 10, February 24 and March 10. Attendance is encouraged but not required. 

Course instruction will be provided via Michigan State University’s D2L course management interface. Each unit will take approximately 3 to 5 hours to complete. A certificate of completion is given to participants that complete all six unit quizzes with a grade of 80% or higher.

Additional Course Materials

Continuing Education Credits Available

  • 6 Master Citizen Planner education credits
  • 16 Michigan Master Naturalist credits
  • 16 Michigan Conservation Stewards Program advanced training hours
  • 16 Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Pesticide Applicator Re-certification credits (8 Commercial Core & 8 Aquatic [category 5])
  • A free one-year membership to Michigan Lakes and Streams Association, including 4 issues of The Michigan Riparian magazine

Financial Assistance Available
If the course enrollment fee poses a barrier to your participation please contact Paige Filice (filicepa@msu.edu). Financial assistance funds are limited.


To register for the course you will need to create an account, sign in with your email/password, and complete the registration process. There is a short video tutorial on the account and registration process here or follow these instructions.

  1. Create your MSU Guest Account/Community ID and password at https://community.idm.msu.edu. Instructions for setting up an account can be found here.
  2. Login to the registration system with your new Community ID and password: Introduction to Lakes 2021 and follow the instructions.
  3. Upon registration you will receive a receipt and instructions for accessing the course. The course will begin January 19, 2021.

Register a colleague or friend

To register someone else for Introduction to Lakes visit this registration page.

Course Administrator

Paige Filice
Natural Resources Educator
Michigan State University Extension


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