MSU Extension educator chosen as 2017 Informal Science Educator of the Year

Sea Grant's Brandon Schroeder to receive honor from Michigan Science Teachers Association.

Michigan Sea Grant's Brandon Schroeder works with students on a project. Photo: Michigan State University Extension
Michigan Sea Grant's Brandon Schroeder works with students on a project. Photo: Michigan State University Extension

The Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) has chosen Michigan State University Extension educator Brandon Schroeder as its 2017 Informal Science Educator of the year. MSTA is a state chapter of the National Science Teachers Association, one of the largest science organizations of its kind in the United States. Its mission is to stimulate, support and provide leadership for the improvement of science education throughout Michigan.

Schroeder, as part of the Michigan Sea Grant team, serves as Northeast Michigan District Extension Educator for northern Lake Huron coastal communities. In addition to his valuable work involving fisheries science, biodiversity conservation, sustainable coastal tourism, and working with communities to apply science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues, he is a passionate proponent of science education and Great Lakes literacy. The work he has been doing for years aligns perfectly to the state of Michigan’s new K-12 Science Standards – another benefit for teachers learning and working with him.

As part of the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI), a regional place-based stewardship education initiative, Schroeder works with area schools fostering school-community partnerships, providing professional development for educators, and supporting youth in implementing stewardship projects. Alongside Great Lakes scientists and natural resource professionals, he works with youth who are applying Environmental-STEM learning to help conserve Lake Huron’s biodiversity, map threatened and endangered species habitat, monitor vernal pool wetlands, manage invasive species, investigate marine debris, and more. Since 2009, nearly 19,000 students have engaged as Great Lakes stewards, E-STEM learners and valued community leaders through the NEMIGLSI, which Schroeder helped launch.

In addition, Schroeder provides program leadership for MSU Extension’s statewide 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, a youth leadership camp and Michigan State University Pre-College Program recognized nationally for conservation education excellence and science program best practices.

Schroeder doesn’t reserve his enthusiasm for just young students. He currently serves on the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s Center for Great Lakes Literacy educator team, which fosters connections between Great Lakes scientists and the educational community. He also co-coordinates two intensive opportunities for Michigan educators -- a shoreside Lake Huron Place-Based Education Summer Teacher Institute and a shipboard Lake Huron Science Exploration with teachers aboard the EPA R/V Lake Guardian research vessel.

According to MSTA, Brandon was chosen for his “unique and extraordinary accomplishments, active leadership, scholarly contributions, and direct and substantial contributions to the improvement of non-school based science education over a significant period of time.”

Brandon will receive his award during the annual MSTA conference on March 24, 2017.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by MSTA,” he said. “It is an honor that also recognizes our great partnerships with communities, schools, educators and youth. ”

In addition to Schroeder, another winner also hails from northeast Michigan. Alpena elementary schoolteacher Bob Thomson, who works with Schroeder on many projects, has been named MSTA’s Elementary Science Teacher of the Year.

Bob Thomson’s class has been a long-term partner with MSU Extension and Michigan Sea Grant through the NEMIGLSI network and our Center for Great Lakes Literacy. Locally, Thomson’s class has been instrumental in establishing the Thunder Bay Watershed Project – where his students engage in watershed science and studies. Through their projects, his students are collaborating with Michigan Sea Grant and other agency partners to address significant issues in the region such as water quality, invasive species, native fishes and biodiversity conservation, and marine debris in the Great Lakes.

A leader beyond his school walls, Bob Thomson’s place-based stewardship education model has inspired school administrators, other area educators, and has been instrumental in helping us to foster a growing network of partners committed to connecting youth with our Great Lakes and natural resources.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

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