Growing up Green documentary explores Great Lakes place-based education

Michigan youth and Great Lakes stewardship are at the center of new place-based education documentary airing on PBS stations throughout April.

International filmmaker Bob Gliner working in northeast Michigan for his latest documentary Growing up Green, coming to your local PBS station in April.
International filmmaker Bob Gliner working in northeast Michigan for his latest documentary Growing up Green, coming to your local PBS station in April.

Tune in to your local public broadcasting station (PBS) for a new education documentary,Growing up Green,featuring the work of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) network and place-based education partnerships across Michigan. This documentary explores how schools across Michigan are engaging their students—through learning— with their communities and stewardship of our Great Lakes and natural resources. Check your local PBS television listings (see image below), as this documentary begins airing across Michigan this April, offering several opportunities throughout the year to see how these schools and youth are making a difference in Michigan.

Collaborating with the Great Lakes Fishery Trust and statewide GLSI, international filmmaker Bob Gliner spent several weeks in Michigan filming with schools, community partners and student-led Great Lakes stewardship projects across Michigan. Gliner, also known for his documentary, Schools that Change Communities, created this documentary to highlight the wide reaching and in-depth place-based education efforts currently underway among schools and communities across Michigan. 

Although Michigan is abundantly rich in Great Lakes and natural resources, it is no coincidence that these amazing youth are ‘growing up green.’ The GLSI reflects a statewide network of schools and community partners working together across Michigan to promote high quality, place-based, community-based learning experiences. Place-based education offeMichigan PBS station broadcast schedulers a proven educational strategy by which schools and educators can promote positive youth development and enhance academic achievement. In promoting place-based education principles, strategies and best practices, the GLSI seeks to support engagement of youth as partners in protecting our Great Lakes and natural resources of Michigan through hands-on, feet-wet learning within their community.

As a partner in promoting place-based education practices and contributing to this documentary, Michigan State University Extension collaborates in advancing this statewide Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, providing leadership for two of Michigan’s nine regional GLSI hubs. Across northern Lake Huron communities, Michigan Sea Grant and 4-H Youth Programs provide leadership among the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI) network and partnership, engaging youth across eight northeast Michigan counties. Through MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability, the GRAND Learning Network, focused around the Grand River watershed flowing into Lake Michigan, supports place-based education among schools, communities and youth of mid-Michigan. 

The GLSI partnership reflects statewide investment and local regional leadership, and this place-based stewardship education initiative promotes hands-on learning programs Great Lakes Stewarship Initiative logowith youth. It supports educators through training and professional development, promoting principles and best practices that maximize the effectiveness of place-based education to enhance learning in schools. It fosters strong school-community partnerships, seeking meaningful community service and environmental stewardship youth projects that link community partners and their community development or environmental stewardship goals with schools to inspire youth driven stewardship projects.

By focusing on local ‘place’ or communities, this learning strategy allows educators to effectively utilize the local community and environmental landscape as a context for teaching and learning. Place-based learning shines best when students can be engaged as active members—even valued partners and leaders—within their communities, where students are empowered to take on real-world environmental issues and community enhancing projects. These place-based learning opportunities can challenge students in applying their in-school learning to real-world community applications, often utilizing learning across the curriculum from math and science to language arts and social studies.  Learning in this way, allows students to better understand their studies and their communities, their sense of place and themselves.

To learn more about the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and place-based stewardship education partnerships and opportunities across Michigan, visit the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative website. You can also learn more about MSU-led place-based education partnerships, regionally, by visiting the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative website and the GRAND Learning Network website. DVD copies of the film “Growing up Green” are available for purchase by visiting

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