Check out the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership’s Shoreline Educator Network

Explore how a Shoreline Educator can help build your knowledge about the importance of natural shorelines along your lake.

In July 2014, the North American Lake Management Society promoted Lakes Appreciation Month for those who enjoy Michigan’s more than 11,000 inland lakes. If you have not yet had a chance to do something special for these amazing resources, you can still take part in this celebration even as it ends. You may want to take a few minutes to locate resource professionals who can help you and your neighbors better understand of many aspects of your lakeshore, including how to support a diverse mix of fish and wildlife species that helps maintain a healthy lake ecosystem but also allows you to enjoy lake living.

For example, have you ever wondered what you can do to increase fish and wildlife along your shoreline? The shoreline, or the area that goes up onto the land and also extends into the shallow water, provides critical areas for countless fish and wildlife species in Michigan’s inland lakes. You may have witnessed various forms of wildlife, including waterfowl, frogs, otters and deer; the list goes on. As far as fish go, our inland lakes contain an astonishing 154 species of fish, 23 of which are threatened, endangered or of special concern. Sadly, five species have already been extirpated, and are no longer found in Michigan. Overdeveloped or degraded shorelines cannot support fish and wildlife, nor will they allow people to be able to enjoy the many benefits of lake living.

Help is available from the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership (MNSP), a diverse group of statewide partners including Michigan State University Extension. MNSP’s goals are to train contractors and landscape professionals who work at the water’s edge, educate lake residents about the importance of natural shorelines, provide demonstration shoreline landscapes that people can visit to see what can be done to combat issues encountered at the water’s edge and encourage local and state policies that promote natural shoreline management. This is a great source of information on practically everything related to natural shorelines, including educational offerings, resources and lists of Certified Natural Shoreline Professionals and Shoreline Educators who can assist you in understanding of, and in designing/installing, a natural shoreline.

Understanding the need to increase their educational reach beyond their current capacity, MNSP has been training natural resource professionals, referred to as Shoreline Educators, across the state to help extend the reach of a consistent educational message across the state. These individuals are members of the MNSP Shoreline Educator Network (SEN), and they provide a local point of contact about natural shorelines with whom individuals and groups can consult. Shoreline Educators are trained and equipped with the tools needed to coordinate educational workshops across the state, and educate property owners about natural shorelines and technologies that benefit lake ecosystems. For more information about the SEN, contact Julia Kirkwood at or 269-567-3583.

If you are interested in connecting with a Shoreline Educator to conduct a natural shoreline workshop or presentation to lakefront property owners and lake associations, visit the SEN listing. Tap into the expertise of local individuals as well as organizations who share an interest in protecting natural shorelines.

Also be sure to periodically check for MNSP educational events scheduled throughout the year, particularly for one in your area. Do not forget to check out the extensive collection of resources in the MNSP library.

If you find you are getting serious about natural shorelines, consider picking up an excellent resource on the topic of natural shorelines for those ready to take the next step in helping to protect Michigan’s inland lakes. The Natural Shoreline Landscapes on Michigan’s Inland Lakes: Guidebook for Property Owners is available for purchase from the MSU Extension Bookstore.

Before Lakes Appreciation Month comes to an end, take the time to get to know your lakeshore better by contacting a Shoreline Educator today!

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