Regional network honors Michigan Sea Grant with awards

Extension educators work, Michigan Sea Grant program noted for excellence.

Mary Bohling receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s mid-career award. Below: Brandon Schroeder receives a Distinguished Service Award. Todd Marsee (left) and Mark Breederland accept the project award on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant.
Mary Bohling receives the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network’s mid-career award. Below: Brandon Schroeder receives a Distinguished Service Award. Todd Marsee (left) and Mark Breederland accept the project award on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant.

Receiving recognition is always affirming, receiving recognition from your peers even more so. The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network recently honored the work of the Michigan Sea Grant team with several awards during its semi-annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. The network connects regional state Sea Grant programs and assists in coordinated efforts to solve problems and manage Great Lakes resources.

Mid-career recognition

Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling received a mid-career award noting her excellent work during her 11-year career. Bohling serves the urban Detroit area including Macomb, Monroe, St. Clair and Wayne counties. She works with diverse populations, coastal communities, nonprofit groups, businesses, researchers and politicians along the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River and western Lake Erie applying science-based knowledge to address Great Lakes issues, including economic development, habitat restoration, coastal tourism initiatives, and greenway/water trail development.

Bohling actively assists nonprofit partners in the preparation, submission, implementation and reporting of grants, including numerous successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants that have totaled nearly $30 million. Being able to help organizations in the Detroit area find and make good use of funding sources and other resources is one of her key missions. She has a passion for getting people outdoors to enjoy, learn about and become good stewards of our environment. Bohling is always looking for creative and interesting ways to get urban youth out on the water or bike trails, including helping to bring the Wilderness Inquiry Canoemobile to Detroit several times.

“Mary Bohling is an excellent extension educator who has strong interaction in her communities and with her colleagues. She is creative and has made — and continues to make — outstanding contributions to Michigan Sea Grant and our state,” said Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant Extension program leader.

Distinguised Service Award

Extension Educator Brandon Schroeder of Alpena was honored with a Distinguished Service Award. Schroeder has been with Michigan Sea Grant for 13 years. He serves coastal counties, encompassing 230 miles of Lake Huron shoreline in Michigan’s northeastern Lower Peninsula, including Cheboygan, Presque Isle, Alpena, Alcona and Iosco. Brandon’s programming focuses on the changing Lake Huron fishery, coastal tourism and business development, and youth engagement in coastal community development and stewardship through place based-education.

Schroeder’s leadership and involvement in many place-based education opportunities, 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp, Center for Great Lakes Literacy, and fisheries workshops are just some of the ways he shares his expertise with stakeholders. His work has impacted the lives of thousands of students and helped to encourage their interest in and stewardship of our Great Lakes.

Schroeder believes deeply in place-based education, which brings students into closer contact with their communities, through youth-led stewardship projects. Schroeder’s creativity, enthusiasm and outstanding achievements have contributed in a significant way each year to the success of Michigan Sea Grant.

“His enthusiasm for his work, combined with a natural curiosity, broad knowledge base, and engaging approach to his work, combine in a way that is unique and extremely effective,” said co-worker Steve Stewart, a senior extension educator.

Outreach Programming Award

In addition to these individual awards, Michigan Sea Grant received the Network’s Great Lakes Outreach Programming Award for its Sustainable Small Harbors project.Brandon Schroeder accepts an award

The Sustainable Small Harbors project, funded by Michigan Sea Grant and a host of partners, aims to assist coastal communities in their planning efforts. The project has enabled six coastal communities with public harbors to do in-depth self-assessments, uncovering strengths and weaknesses related to their waterfront assets and to collaboratively envision their future.

The project has come at a time when harbor towns can capitalize on rebounding tourist dollars and a recovering state economy to make needed waterfront upgrades and add amenities that will increase their appeal to visitors. Team members customized and created highly interactive, public input-driven workshops, or charrettes — typically valued at tens of thousands of dollars — at no direct cost to the six case-study communities involved. The project brought together community decision-makers, harbor managers, infrastructure planners, boaters, business owners and others to come up with meaningful pathways for moving their communities forward.

“The economic and environmental health of small towns along Michigan’s coast is essential to strengthening the state’s economy and environment,” said Jim Diana, Michigan Sea Grant director. “If Michigan thrives, then the Great Lakes region as a whole benefits – and that’s why this program has been so important.”

Team members for the Sustainable Small Harbors project from Michigan Sea Grant included Mark Breederland, Catherine Riseng, Amy Samples and Todd Marsee. Don Carpenter from Lawrence Technological University was principal investigator. Other partners included:

Michigan State University Extension; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes; Michigan Department of Natural Resources Waterways Program; Michigan Development Corporation; Michigan State Housing Development Authority; Environmental Consulting and Technology, LLC; Veritas Environmental Consulting, LLC; David L. Knight, LLC; Edgewater Resources, LLC; Richard Neumann, architect; Constance Bodurow, designer.

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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