There are many opportunities to learn more about Michigan lakes, lake management, and develop your lake leadership skills. The list below is divided into multi-day programs, online and in-person classes, seminars and workshops, and conferences. To help you decide what program is right for you, the “Level” indicates whether a program is Introductory, Intermediate (some understanding of lake ecology and/or leadership experience is helpful), or Advanced (solid understanding of lake ecology and/or substantial leadership experience is helpful).

Multi-Day Programs

Michigan Lake and Stream Leaders Institute

Level: Intermediate Fee: Yes; scholarships available. The Lake and Stream Leaders Institute is a multi-session program offered by Michigan State University Extension, with support from Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and the Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Open to all interested applicants, the Institute provides outdoor and classroom experiences that improve participants’ understanding of lake ecology and management, while developing their communication, leadership, and conflict resolution skills. 

Facilitative Leadership

Level: Intermediate Fee: Yes. Facilitative Leadership is a three-day experiential workshop designed to build and strengthen the skills and personal confidence necessary to lead and facilitate productive meetings. MSU Extension offers the program twice each year, in spring and fall. Also available: “Facilitative Leadership Lite”, an introductory program based on the lessons taught in the multi-day full program, and Advanced Facilitative Leadership

Conflict, Collaboration & Consensus

Level: Advanced Fee: Yes. Conflict, Collaboration & Consensus in Natural Resource Issues, offered by MSU Extension, helps natural resource professionals, and those who deal with natural resources as volunteers, gain confidence and competence in helping groups and communities productively address difficult and contentious issues.  

Great Lakes Leadership Academy

Level: Advanced Fee: Yes. The Great Lakes Leadership Academy is offered by Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources to promote positive change, economic vitality, resource conservation and enhance the quality of life in Michigan by encouraging leadership for the common good. The Academy is aimed at leaders associated with communities, food systems, agriculture, natural resources, environmental and manufacturing sectors where they impact quality of life issues for the citizens of Michigan.

Certified Natural Shoreline Professional Training

Level: Advanced Fee: Yes. Certified Natural Shoreline Professional Training is offered by the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. This training is for contractors and landscape professionals to gain the information and skills needed to design and implement bioengineered technologies for erosion control on inland lakes instead of seawalls. This training is offered once a year. It consists of a two-day classroom session and a one-day field training and exam.

Online and In-person Classes

Michigan Citizen Planner

Level: Intermediate Fee: Yes. The Michigan Citizen Planner program from MSUExtension offers land use education and training to locally appointed and elected planning officials throughout Michigan. Michigan Citizen Planner is a non-credit course series leading to a certificate of completion awarded by Michigan State University Extension. This course meets in-person.

Institute of Water Research

The Institute of Water Research at Michigan State University offers two courses in watershed management.

Level: Intermediate Fee: Yes. MSU‘s Virtual Watershed Program  An Internet-based Academic Credit or Professional Certificate Program in Watershed Management.  Watershed management necessitates an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving, with law, policy,community development and resource economics issues contributing as much to solutions as engineering, biology, hydrology and chemistry. An effective watershed manager must understand the science behind water resources management and have skills in public relations, policy-making,and program evaluation.

Level: Intermediate Fee: Yes. Watershed Management Certificate Program  This interdisciplinary online module offers a unique opportunity to learn about water resource management under a watershed approach framework. The course has four modules: Watershed Concepts; Building and Implementing Watershed Management Plans; Watershed Assessments & Tools; and Legal, Financial, and Institutional Frameworks for Watershed Management.

Introduction to Lakes

Level: Introductory Fee: Yes. Introduction to Lakes is an online course through MSUextension that focuses on lake ecology and lake management for those getting started in their lake management endeavors.

Seminars and Workshops

Clean Boats, Clean Waters: Volunteer Training

Level: Introductory Fee: Yes. The Clean Boats, Clean Waters: Volunteer Training is a seminar that lasts less than four hours. In the seminar you will become a trained volunteer that can help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.  

Cooperative Lakes Monitoring Program: Volunteer Training

Level: Introductory Fee: Yes. The Cooperative Lake Monitoring Program: Volunteer Training is a seminar that will last less than four hours. You will work extensively with the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps). Volunteers will learn to collect lake data using methods that range from basic to advanced, based on your interest. Options include water clarity, phosphorus, shoreline habitat, chlorophyll, dissolved oxygen and temperature, invasive plant species, and complete aquatic plant inventories.

Shoreline Educator Training

Level: Intermediate Fee: Yes. The Shoreline Educator Training Workshop will last more than four hours and will be lead by the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership. This workshop gives local environmental educators the knowledge and materials needed to conduct training sessions for local citizens on protecting and constructing natural shorelines.


Aquatic Plant Management Society Conference

Fee: Yes. The Aquatic Plant Management Society   is a four day annual conference intended to promote environmental stewardship through scientific innovation and development of technology related to integreated management in aquatic and riparian systems. This national event is occasionally held in Michigan.

Michigan Aquatic Managers Association Symposium

Fee: Yes. The Michigan Aquatic Managers Association Symposium is an annual one-day event that is intended to assist in promoting the management of aquatic vegetation. The symposium will provide the scientific and educational advancement of members and encourage scientific research. This will promote an exchange of information among members. In order to, develop public interests in the discipline, and to participate in any Legislative procedures at any level or government that oversees the use and/or enforcement of the laws, regulations, policies, guidance, and findings governing the use of aquatic pesticides or other forms of aquatic plant management in the waters of the State of Michigan.

Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society, Conference or Luncheon

Fee: Yes. The Michigan Chapter, North American Lake Management Society Conference is usually a one day event or luncheon and is held every two years. Topics covered are usually slightly more scientific.

Michigan Inland Lakes Convention Conference

Fee: Yes. The Michigan Inland Lakes Conventionoccurs every two years and is a multi-day event. This is where management governmental agencies, non-profit organizations and lake management corporations will collaborate to host a significant learning event. Besides the standard presentations there are more in-depth seminars and workshops, as well as field trips.

Michigan Lake and Stream Associations Conference

Fee: Yes. The Michigan Lake and Stream Associations Conference is a two day annual event. The conference addresses many issues concerning lake ecology and management. These are commonly presented in one hour presentations, but there are also more extensive panel discussions and seminars to attend.

Midwest Aquatic Plant Management Society Conference

Fee: Yes. The Midwest Aquatic Plant Management Society Conference is a three-day conference intended to promote sound and appropriate technologies for the management of aquatic resources, provide opportunities for educational advancement, encourage relevant scientific research in the discipline, promote the exchange of information and expand and develop public interest in aquatic resources and their sustainable management. This regional event is occasionally held in Michigan.

Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership: Shorelines and Shallows Conference

Fee: Yes. The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership: Shorelines and Shallows Conference is a one-day conference addressing the recent advances in shoreline management and protection.