Michigan Sea Grant representatives Steve Stewart and Mary Bohling with John D. Dingell, Jr., IWRA Chairman Richard Micka, and Refuge Manager John Hartig.

Michigan Sea Grant representatives Steve Stewart and Mary Bohling with John D. Dingell, Jr., IWRA Chairman Richard Micka, and Refuge Manager John Hartig. Photo by Mark Messer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

  • Rhett Register, Michigan Sea Grant Communications Lead, (734) 647-0767, rregist@umich.edu
  • Cindy Hudson, Michigan Sea Grant Extension Communications Manager, (517) 353-9723, hudsoncy@msu.edu

The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance (IWRA) and the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge recently honored the work of Michigan Sea Grant with the John D. Dingell Friend of the Refuge Award.

Michigan Sea Grant staff have been involved with both the IWRA and the Detroit River Refuge since they were organized. The IWRA recognized Michigan Sea Grant’s continued efforts in providing classroom and vessel-based education in southeast Michigan and their ongoing commitment to the mission of both the IWRA and the Refuge.

The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge consists of nearly 6,000 acres of unique habitat, including islands, coastal wetlands, marshes, shoals, and waterfront lands within an authorized boundary extending along 48 miles of shoreline. 

The IWRA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the mission and purposes of the Detroit Refuge, the only international refuge in North America. It provides many vital services to the Refuge, such as community outreach, education programs, habitat restoration, special events support, volunteer staff, advocacy, and fundraising.

“The Refuge is such a wonderful asset to the Detroit area,” said Mary Bohling, a Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator. Bohling also is a current board member and one of the original organizers of the International Wildlife Refuge Alliance. “The Alliance has been an important part of building fantastic partnerships to help protect, conserve, and manage the Refuge’s wildlife and habitats. As a Sea Grant educator, I’m very proud to have been a part of making this happen.”

Since 1991, more than 100,000 students and adults have participated in Michigan Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Education Program. In addition to classroom lessons, students, teachers, and adult chaperones board the schoolship Clinton to learn more about conservation and stewardship of our state’s Great Lakes and waterways. Soon students will be boarding the schoolship at the newly constructed fishing pier and boat dock in the Detroit Refuge Gateway. The accessible dock and fishing pier are expected to open in the fall of 2017.

“We’re honored to receive this John D. Dingell Jr. Award,” said Extension Educator Steve Stewart on behalf of Michigan Sea Grant. “We’re also looking forward to welcoming many more students on board the Clinton from the new dock at the Refuge Gateway. It is critical that students have the opportunity to experience and learn about these incredible water resources, and there is no better way to do that than on a schoolship. They will be our future decision-makers and the stewards of these incredible water resources.”

The award is named after former Michigan U.S. Congressman John D. Dingell Jr., who championed many conservation causes and legislation, and who supported the creation of the Detroit Refuge.

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.