Macomb County making the most of our natural assets 2017

When you support MSU Extension’s natural resources education programs, participants learn about income-generating opportunities, ecological principles, natural resource issues and the role of natural resource professionals.

When you support MSU Extension’s natural resources education programs, participants learn about income-generating opportunities, ecological principles, natural resource issues and the role of natural resource professionals. They also explore public policy issues related to environmental stewardship. Our programs can lead to increased income for families that retain their natural resource assets, help landowners become better stewards of their land, and protect land management opportunities for future generations. Better land stewardship benefits communities by protecting and enhancing Michigan’s natural resource assets.

Michigan Water School: Essential Resources for Local Officials

While the Great Lakes State is endowed with abundant ground and surface water resources, local water issues from diverse land uses, changing climate patterns and nonpoint source pollution has shown a need for stronger governance to protect these resources. Lack of available information, public support and resources have been identified as barriers to implementing community water management improvements.

MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant (MSG) are addressing these challenges through its new program, Michigan Water School, a policy-neutral, fact-based water education program designed to assist local communities to improve water quality and quality of life.

The objective of the two-day program was to provide local decision makers at all levels with critical, relevant information needed to understand Michigan’s water resources, including the fundamentals of water science, in order to support sound water management decisions and increase awareness of current and future local and state water issues.

This interactive program, piloted in May, 2017 in partnership with Lawrence Technological University (LTU) featured both in-class presentations and interactive learning demonstrations along with a field experience. The program included sessions on water quantity, water quality, economics, finance, planning, and water policy issues.

Participants received a flash drive with the updateable and downloadable Toolbox file.

The field experience portion enhanced the classroom content by highlighting innovative green infrastructure and low impact development practices implemented at the LTU campus in Southfield and around Southeast Michigan. Tour stops included rain gardens/ bioswales, aquatic ecosystem restoration, and wastewater treatment innovations.

The pilot program drew 28 participants from seven counties, with a mix of local elected and appointed officials, municipal staff and environmental organization staff.

Based on the pre-and post-surveys, participants gained new attitudes, knowledge, and confidence in their ability to make decisions. They expressed more focused understanding of the role of local government in providing leadership in water management.

Homeowner Septic System Education

Point-of-sale follow-up data estimates that at least 10 percent of septic systems checked through these programs are in some level of malfunction or failure. With nearly 1.4 million septic systems in Michigan, that can have a significant negative impact on both surface and ground water.

Started in Macomb County, homeowner septic system education programs were developed and have been offered since 2012 in partnership with local health departments, local municipalities and other organizations and consultants. In 2017, MSU Extension offered five in -person workshops, including two in Washington Township and one in Richmond Township. Over 100 residents participated in these programs.

In addition the 2016 statewide webinar was edited and closed captioned to add to the MSUE Septic Education web page as another education resource for residents. As of December 2017, 371 visits were made to the webinar on this page.

A short public service announcement (PSA) was created in a partnership between MOWEA and MSU Extension to educate about septic systems. Copies of this PSA were distributed to organizations and municipalities and aired on WKAR. This video can be viewed at the MSU Septic Education webpage or YouTube.

Managing Your Septic System ( bulletin E3350) was updated from 2009 and new issues that can impact systems were added, including "flushable" wipes, medications and antibacterial cleaners. Copies are available through the MSU Bookstore or local Extension offices.

An annual follow-up survey was sent out to all 2016 in person and webinar participants to assess behavior changes as a result of their program participation. 2016 survey results mirrored 2014 and 2015 data.

Michigan Sea Grant Education Programs

MSU Extension has a mission to raise awareness and increase the understanding of our natural resources. Serving a total of 5,406 Macomb residents, MSU Extension provided a number of programs, including Michigan Sea Grant programs, throughout southeastern Michigan, encouraging good stewardship among youth and adults, of our valuable natural resources.

Michigan Sea Grant, a program of MSU Extension and the University of Michigan, fosters economic growth and protection of Michigan’s coastal great lakes resources with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA). Throughout 2017, Michigan Sea Grant held a wide variety of programs or assisted with numerous projects in Macomb County including the following:

Great Lakes Education Program

For the 27th year, MSU Extension and the Clinton River Cruise Company partnered with the Metroparks to provide both an educational Great Lakes Education Program (GLEP) cruise as well as a shore-based education program focusing on wetlands and conducted by Metropark interpretive staff.

Staff Supervision – Justin Selden supervised 19 volunteer GLEP educators, and Huron Pines Americorps Member, Katelyn Burns, which involved training, scheduling and direct programming supervision. These invaluable volunteers donated a total of 476 hours of their time to program delivery, valued at $11,492.

Spring 2017 GLEP Season- The Spring 2017 GLEP season on Lake St. Clair involved 38 classes during the period April 26th – June 13th. All classes were involved in both the vessel-based education offered through MSU Extension as well as complementary shoreside education offered by Metropark interpretive educators. This provided each class with a full day experience.

A total of 1,033 students participated, of which 506 (49%) were female and 527 (51%) were male. Twenty-two percent (22%) of all student participants were from minority populations compared with a county-wide minority population of 20.3%. Thirty-eight teachers participated, including eight new to the program who received new teacher training. There were 163 adult chaperones. Elementary schools from six (6) districts participated, including: Chippewa Valley, L’Anse Creuse, Roseville, South Lake, Utica, and Warren Woods as well as an Oakland home school and the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Instruction - A total of 152 hours of instruction were provided to the 1,234 participants (four hours per person), which equals 4,936 educational contact hours.

Fall 2017 GLEP Season - Nine classes participated during the period September 28th – October 27th . All classes were involved in both the vessel-based education offered through MSU Extension, as well as complementary shoreside education offered by Metropark interpretive educators.

A total of 267 students participated this fall, of which 139 (52%) were female and 128 (48%) were male. Forty-eight percent (129) of all student participants were from minority populations compared with a countywide minority population of 20.3%. Nine teachers participated, all of which had previous GLEP experience. There were 36 adult chaperones. Katelyn Burns, Huron Pines AmeriCorps representative, also spent 40 hours on the boat doing program delivery and another 150 hours assisting with other program needs. Elementary schools from the Grosse Pointe Woods, Romeo, Utica, and Warren districts participated. High schools from the Hazel Park district also participated.

Instruction - A total of 36 hours of instruction were provided to the 312 participants (4 hours per person) which equals 1,248 educational contact hours.

Formative/Summative Evaluations - Evaluations were conducted with teachers and adult chaperones. Adult participants were asked to rate individual learning activities on a 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent) scale with respect to how well they help achieve curriculum goals. Teacher ratings ranged from a low of 3.60 to a high of 3.78 (3.3 to 3.9 for chaperones), with a mean of 3.65 (3.6 chaperones). When asked to rate the overall GLEP experience, the mean teacher response was 3.9 (3.7 chaperones). Teachers were asked to rate GLEP compared with other “field trip” experiences they have had on a 1 (much worse) to 5 (much better) scale, with the mean response being 4.61 (4.5 chaperones). Teachers were asked how well GLEP helps them meet Michigan educational benchmarks on a 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent) scale, with the mean response being 3.53. Of the 70% of teachers who reported using the GLEP curriculum, they completed an average of 3.19 learning activities prior to their field day, and an additional 1.54 following.

Teacher Behavior Change - Of those teachers with previous GLEP experience, 100% shared GLEP information with other teachers and/or school administrators; 60% sought more information on Great Lakes and/or ocean science; 64% included more Great Lakes and/or ocean science content in their classroom in addition to that provided in the GLEP curriculum; 94% encouraged other teachers to participate; 45% visited the Great Lakes more often; 58% visited the Metroparks more often; and 100% felt a greater responsibility for the Great Lakes.

Summer Discovery Cruises

Again in 2017, informal learners were able to “learn about the Great Lakes by being on the Great Lakes” through our Summer Discovery Cruises, (SDC), which represent a unique opportunity to advance Coastal Urban Ecotourism throughout SE Michigan. The 2017 season was the 15th completed on Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie in partnership with the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA). Stewart and Selden collaborated in providing program development and implementation, coordinating with Michigan Sea Grant staff in Ann Arbor on the website ( and online registration management.

Program promotion included use of the QR code developed in 2012 to facilitate easier mobile access to the website. The SDC website was critical to our success in 2017, providing information on every cruise and the ability to easily register online. Website statistics showed 17,664 unique page views for the year. Approximately 54% of the website activity related to the Lake St. Clair location and 46% relating to the Lake Erie location. As expected, most activity occurred during May – August.

Online program promotion was also facilitated via the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative, and Great Lakes Fisherman websites. The program Facebook page, which had 761 “Likes” at the start of the year and grew to 829 (a 9% increase) by year’s end.

Vessel dockage and on-site participant registration was provided by Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair Metroparks. The 2017 Summer Discovery Cruise season began on June 25, with the final cruise conducted on September 15. Designed to provide vessel-based Great Lakes educational opportunities for individuals of all ages, as well as groups, a total of 35 cruises were conducted involving 750 learners, of which 95% were adults and 5% were under 21. Participant demographics by race/ethnic group were: Caucasian (91%), Multiracial (1%), Black (2%), Asian (4%), American Indian (1%), and Hispanic (1%). Of these 35 Summer Discovery Cruises, 19 cruises involved 377 people at Lake Erie Metropark, and another 16 cruises involved 349 people at Lake St. Clair Metropark. Participants came from 18 Michigan counties, Florida, Indiana, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia. MSU Extension personnel were aboard for all cruises, and Metropark interpretive staff for most. Additional guest instructors were engaged for a number of the limited cruises.

Instruction - A total of 113 hours of instruction were provided to the 750 Summer Discovery Cruises participating learners across 35 cruises, providing a total of 2,455 education contact hours.

Online Registration - This was the eighth year we offered online registration through the SDC website. The two Metroparks will continue to coordinate in-person and phone registrations, with registration information held on the Michigan Sea Grant server to allow for easy program recordkeeping and financial management. All financial transactions through the website are overseen by the Michigan Sea Grant fiscal officer. The Metroparks continue to be very supportive of this registration approach.

Supplemental Funding Support –The value of HCMA staff time devoted to Summer Discovery Cruises education in 2017 was estimated to be $5,629.

Lake St. Clair Metropark – The 2017 SDC season began on Lake St. Clair shortly after the conclusion of the Great Lakes Education Program. Ten cruise types were offered this summer including: The Nature of Lake St Clair; Wetlands & Wildlife (with MDNR partners); Lighthouses of Lake St. Clair; Lake St. Clair Fisheries (with MDNR partners); Shipwrecks! (with DTE Energy partners); Night Watch; Birds, Boats & Booze; Fireworks!; Channels, Islands, Bays & Reefs; Birds of the Wetlands; and Journey Through the Straits (a transit of the Detroit River from Lake St. Clair to Lake Erie).

Program Evaluation – Each adult participant was asked to complete a two-page assessment survey at the end of each cruise. Participants were asked to rate their overall Summer Discovery Cruise experience, as well as a number of SDC elements. Participants were also asked to provide open-ended suggestions regarding Summer Discovery Cruise improvement. Those who had gone on Summer Discovery Cruises in previous years were asked about the impact those cruises had had on their behavior. The evaluation results that follow are for each of the two operational locations – Lake Erie Metropark (Lake Erie) and Lake St. Clair Metropark (Lake St. Clair).

Lake St. Clair – Of the total 373 participants at Lake St. Clair Metropark, 196 (53%) returned completed surveys. Using a scale of 1 (poor) to 4 (excellent), the average ratings of all respondents participating at Lake St. Clair Metropark were as follows:

  • Ease of Locating (3.81)
  • Vessel Accommodations (3.49)
  • Shoreside Accommodations (3.52)
  • Cruise Cost (3.72) 
  • Instructor Knowledge (3.97)
  • Instructor Effectiveness (3.93)
  • Cruise Format (3.82)
  • Amount of New Information (3.88)
  • Relevance of New Information (3.86)
  • Overall SDC Experience (3.84)

Participants were asked if they had previously been aware of education offered by the Metroparks, MSU Extension, and Michigan Sea Grant, with positive responses of 53%, 42% and 35% respectively. For 81% of participants, Summer Discovery Cruises were the primary reason for visiting Macomb County. Of those completing the program assessment at Lake St. Clair Metropark, 39% had participated in previous Summer Discovery Cruises. These returning participants reported the following changes in behavior as a result of their previous participation (reported as a percentage of returning participants): 97% told others about Summer Discovery Cruises, 94% shared SDC information with an average of 9.03 others (providing an additional indirect reach of 3,368 persons for Lake St. Clair), 91% felt a greater responsibility for the Great Lakes, 70% sought more information following their participation, 68% visited the Metroparks more often than before, 55% visited Lake St. Clair more often than before, and 35% engaged in new Great Lakes stewardship activities following participation. Examples of new Great Lakes stewardship activities included: participating in Lake St. Clair beach cleanup, attending informational lectures, using more environmentally friendly fertilizer on their grass, increasing recycling efforts, and being careful of pesticide use near the water. 

Lake St. Clair Fisheries Workshop

On April 13, 2017 Sea Grant Extension conducted a Lake St. Clair Fisheries workshop at Sportsmen’s Direct. There were several fisheries workshops held annually throughout the state by Sea Grant Extension, and this workshop added a much-needed focus on Lake St. Clair. Thirty-two attendees learned about the following topics:

  • Harmful Algal Blooms, (Timothy Davis, Ph.D. Research Scientist NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab)
  • Fish Response to Habitat Restoration in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, (Robin DeBruyn Ph.D. Fisheries Researcher USGS Great Lakes Science Center and University of Toledo)
  • Lake St. Clair Fishery Status Update, (Todd Wills and Jan-Michael Hessenauer Fisheries Research Biologists MIDNR Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station)

Positive feedback from the attendees included many statements about the need for such an educational workshop annually. The workshop was also video recorded and made public through Sportsmen’s Direct. Advertising for the workshop was done through local community partners, businesses and social media. Paid advertising through Facebook reached 2,006 people and had 47 interactions. The crowd was reduced, ironically, due to the good weather! The walleye were biting, and many anglers decided to go fishing instead of attending the meeting, with many stopping in to Sportsman’s Direct to get minnows on their way out. Of the 32 attendees 30 were male and 2 were female, and represented charter boat captains, anglers, and non-anglers.

Water Conservation Education Program

In 2017, Justin Selden coordinated Water Conservation Program scheduling, volunteer recruitment and training and program implementation in Macomb County, and Steve Stewart arranged a pilot effort in Wayne County. In the first quarter of 2017 MSU Extension and MI Sea Grant representatives conducted 154 water conservation programs in Macomb and Wayne Counties. The programs took place in 54 schools representing 22 different school districts throughout Macomb and Wayne Counties. A total of 3,911 (including 3,662 Macomb students) 1st-4th grade students and 154 teachers were involved in the hour long hands-on science program. Student demographics showed that 72% were Caucasian (including 10% Middle Eastern), 15% African-American, and 13% other minority populations. Macomb County published demographics showing that 81% are Caucasian (including Middle Eastern), 11% AfricanAmerican, and 8% other minority populations. The program falls under the MSU Extension definition of being in parity. There were 24 hours (valued at $579) in classroom instruction time given by four MSU Extension volunteers. Program delivery accounted for 3,911 contact hours with students. In 2017, the addition of Katelyn Burns (Americorp) doubled our capacity over 2016 and allowed us to pilot Water Conservation education in elementary classrooms in selected Wayne County schools with which we work. Wayne County District Coordinator Richard Wooten secured the $8,000 host site fee. This commitment of support is a reflection of the value placed in the planned education and recognition of the quality of education provided to date.

Program evaluation surveys were returned by 55 teachers and 17 of them had no prior experience with MSU Extension. More than 90% of responding teachers placed a high value on the program’s effectiveness in addressing state standards and benchmarks, and 93% placed a high value on its educational value and ability to enhance existing curricula. Of the 38 teachers that have previously participated in the program the average teacher has participated for over 5 years with one teacher reporting that this was their 15th year having the Water Conservation Program in their classroom.

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