2018 enrollment open for Michigan Conservation Stewards Program

Intensive volunteer leader training program designed for those interested learning ecosystem-based management principles and sharing this knowledge with others who want to help restore and sustain healthy ecosystems throughout Michigan.

Volunteers studying aquatic invertebrate specimens.
Volunteers studying aquatic invertebrate specimens. Photo by CSP.

Want to learn more about conservation and natural science in a community context? Desire to assume a conservation leadership role in Michigan? Michigan Conservation Stewards maybe what you are looking for. Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is once again offering the Michigan Conservation Stewards Program (CSP) volunteer leader training program in three locations in the state during fall 2018. Michigan State University Events registration is now open for Kalamazoo, Oakland, and St. Clair counties. The classroom locations are for:

  • Kalamazoo entirely at the Kalamazoo Nature Center;
  • Oakland begins MSU Tollgate Farm and Education Center and will travel to other relevant training locations; and
  • Clair County begins at St. Clair County Administration Building – Auditorium, other sessions will be held and will travel at several locations.

Individuals interested in volunteer conservation are encouraged to enroll. Programs offered in Kalamazoo County beginning September 10, St. Clair September 11, and Oakland County September 15. Sessions are held on weekday evenings and Saturdays. The cost is $250 for the 7 week training course.

 CSP offers experiential learning about conservation and stewardship in a community context and guidance for assuming leadership roles through volunteering time, and gaining knowledge and skills as a Conservation Steward. Becoming a Conservation Steward allows you to provide a service related to restoring and conserving Michigan’s ecosystems. Participants will complete the following to become a Conservation Steward:

  1. Classroom and field-based training led by experts in various fields of conservation and natural resources, including lectures, interactive learning and field experiences;
  2. Self-paced online learning modules provided via Michigan State University’s Desire2Learn (D2L) course system that participants will complete on their own; and
  3. Volunteer service including the completion of an in-class Capstone Project related to an area of interest as well as additional community volunteer activities.

Professional level instruction is provided by MSU Extension, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with diverse local conservation partners.

When one participant was asked how they were going to use what they learned they said, “I will probably not shut-up about how stoked I am about the class . . .  like a weird conservation carnival barker.” Another student was asked after a session, what was the most important thing they learned today? They answered, “Although I have limited experience in conservation, there is hope for me.”

The mission of the Michigan CSP is to deliver high quality, locally-based training opportunities to create an informed Michigan citizenry who will practice community-based volunteer conservation management activities. The hallmark of the Michigan CSP is that it seeks to bring together local conservation and stewardship communities through ecosystem-based training experience combined with 40 hours of required service.

For more information about Michigan Conservation Stewards program contact Beth Clawson, MSU Extension Educator. To learn more about invasive organisms and invasive aquatic plants contact Michigan State University Extension Natural Resources educators who are working across Michigan to provide aquatic invasive species educational programming and assistance. You can contact an educator through MSU Extension’s “Find an Expert” search tool using the keywords “Natural Resources Water Quality.”

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