Michigan Lake & Stream Leaders Institute news, programming and other resources from MSU Extension.

Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute

Caring for Michigan’s lakes and streams through education, leadership, and citizen action.

Many of Michigan’s 36,000 miles of streams and 11,000 lakes are facing pressure from competing human uses, and local communities often struggle to protect and manage these valuable aquatic resources in a way that incorporates the best available knowledge and resources. Concerned citizens, decision makers, resource managers, and waterfront property owners can learn to be more effective stewards of Michigan’s waterways by enrolling in the Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute.

Participants take part in classroom and field-based sessions designed to help them better understand local water resource management planning and program implementation. Expert presenters from academia, natural resource agencies, and local communities cover topics including watershed management, lake and stream ecology, environmental education, leadership, and working with local and state government. The Institute is conducted through five in-depth sessions held across Michigan.

Participants complete an independent applied project, based on what they learn during the Institute sessions. Projects can be designed to match each participant’s area of interest.  Past examples include organizing public forums or educational programs related to lakes and streams, initiating projects that protect or promote water quality, assisting in local water resource management activities or conducting water quality monitoring studies.

Upon graduation, participants become part of the Institute’s Alumni Program which offers networking, educational, and service opportunities. Institute alumni include property owners, drain commissioners, professors, non-profit organization representatives, students, and state and local government personnel.

The Lake and Stream Leaders Institute is a cooperative program of Michigan State University Extension, the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Michigan Lake Stewardship Associations, Inc. The Institute is endorsed by the Michigan Inland Lakes Partnership.

In the past, the Institute has been approved continuing education credits, including Michigan State University Extension Master Citizen Planner.


The application period for the Class of 2019 will open in late 2018. Sign up to receive an email notification when the application period opens. 

Program Contact

Jo A. Latimore, Ph.D.
Aquatic Ecologist and Outreach Specialist
MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Natural Resources Building
480 Wilson Road, Room 13
East Lansing, MI  48824
(517) 432-1491


  • Aquariums are great learning tools in the classroom and should never be released into the wild.

    Keep classroom pets out of the wild

    Published on June 4, 2018

    At the end of the school year, prevent the release of invasive plants and animals into the environment by following RIPPLE recommendations for proper handling and disposal.

  • Online platforms make it easier to connect across communities. Pictured: Jess Robinson at The Stewardship Network headquarters in Ann Arbor, MI. Photo credit: Monica Day, MSU

    Working together to improve natural resources

    Published on March 27, 2017

    Efforts to care for land and water can benefit from social networks and linking with similar organizations through an association or other social network.

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