2015 Lake and Stream Leaders Institute seeking those who wish to learn how to be effective stewards

Upcoming leadership development training program currently is designed for those who wish to care for Michigan’s lakes and streams through education, leadership and citizen action. Deadline to apply is March 30.

Lake and Stream Leaders Institute participants learn how to identify aquatic macroinvertebrates, which are critical indicators of stream health. Paige Filice | Michigan State University
Lake and Stream Leaders Institute participants learn how to identify aquatic macroinvertebrates, which are critical indicators of stream health. Paige Filice | Michigan State University

Michigan residents are never more than six miles away from an inland lake, more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes, and have over 36,000 miles of streams to explore. Michigan’s water resources are facing mounting demands from invasive species, human uses and beyond. Frequently, decision making is determined by the local community, and because of this leadership, at the local level, is an important component of water resource protection.

The Lake and Stream Leaders Institute (LSLI) is an educational program designed for people who are willing to step up in their communities and within their organizations as volunteers, leaders, and professionals interested in Michigan’s water resources. Because Michigan does not have the resources to manage all of Michigan’s water resources, management often relies on volunteers who are willing to build their expertise in the area of lake and stream management. Importantly, while technical knowledge is extremely valuable, individuals must also possess a special skillset that enables them to help the organizations and communities they work with to become more prosperous and sustainable. The goal of the Lake and Stream Leaders Institute is to develop leaders who are both familiar with current lake and stream science and management practices, and possess the skills to work through challenging issues with their communities.

Since 2002, LSLI has developed more than 100 stewardship leaders. Past participants have included natural resource agency staff, lake association and non-profit organization leaders, natural resources students, drain commissioners, educators and interested residents.

Through this comprehensive program, participants gain an understanding of the regulatory landscape, organizations and agencies that guide water resource protection and management in Michigan, and also learn how to develop productive partnerships. The Institute is a partnership program of Michigan State University Extension, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations, Inc., and the MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Instructors are leaders and experts in their fields and include university faculty, extension educators, state and local agency professionals, leaders from nonprofit organizations, and institute alumni. After graduation, participants can engage in alumni programs, with opportunities coordinated each year that promote continued opportunities for learning and networking.

After completing LSLI in 2013, one participant shared the following thoughts on their experience:

“I feel far more confident taking proactive steps in my lake community and providing information to persuade or motivate others.” The participant, a lake association board member, added, “I am more prone to speak up, even to a less than receptive audience.  I feel more connected and vested in my own lake.”

“Spending time with such kindred spirits is energizing, motivating, and promotes hope and courage and stamina to keep trying to be a positive force for our beautiful ‘Michigan Water-Wonderland,’ ” shared a 2013 grad. “And an added bonus is spending time at the delightful locations of the meetings. It is balm to a nature lover’s soul and a true educational retreat.”

The institute consists of three in-depth sessions held across Michigan, involving a combination of classroom learning and field-based training sessions. The 2015 Institute schedule is as follows:

The application deadline is March 30, 2015. Tuition for the 2015 Institute is $375, and includes all materials, meals, field trips, boats, and overnight lodging at the RAM Center and KBS. Limited scholarships are available. 

For application forms and more information about the 2015 Institute, visit http://goo.gl/zec62q or MSU Extension’s  Lake and Stream Leadership Institute program page or contact Jo Latimore (latimor1@msu.edu or 517-432-1491).

For more information about Michigan’s lakes and streams and watersheds, visit the MSU Extension website.

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