Tricia Blicharski of Friends of the Detroit River receives 2020 Epsilon Sigma Phi Friend of Extension Award
MSU Extension honored Tricia Blicharski for her leadership, service, and expertise during the annual Fall Extension Conference held virtually on Sept. 29.
The Friend of Extension Award recognizes individuals who have been true friends of MSU Extension and supported their programs.
Tricia Blicharski is director of operations of Friends of the Detroit River, which envisions an ever-improving quality of life for people, plants, and animals in southeastern Michigan and southwestern Ontario. The organization developed a balance of grassroots advocacy and staffed programs, forming an environmental group that watches and protects the Detroit River.
Friends of the Detroit River has worked closely with MSU Extension for over a decade. Together, more than $25 million in habitat restoration and trail projects have been completed at multiple locations along the Detroit River. They partnered with MSU Extension Michigan Sea Grant Program on a variety of projects including the annual Detroit +River Festival, annual Shiver on the River, and numerous others.
In 2015, Tricia became an advisor to the MSU Extension Water School Program, which provides education to local officials on water resource issues. She provided valuable feedback on curriculum development and now serves on the MSU Extension Water School State Advisory Council where she continues to help shape the future of the program. Also, with Tricia’s leadership, over 3,000 students, teachers, and parents have participated in the Detroit Water Festival, a day-long educational event designed to help middle school students learn about our most precious natural resource—water. Because of the partnership with Friends of the Detroit River, MSU Extension has been able to reach over 1,000 people and restore an average of 75 acres of critical Great Lakes coastal habitat annually. Tricia participated in preparing a successful 2019 grant application to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation that will bring over $400,000 to Wayne County for a Hines Park Connector Framework Plan. This funding can be used to demonstrate the value that MSU Extension brings to the county.