Coastal planning goes beyond ordinances and zoning boards. Anyone who lives, works, or plays along a coastline can take part in shaping decisions about how land is managed, protected, and used.
That’s why Extension Educator Tyler Augst has been working on programs that make it even easier for communities to participate in managing their coastal lands.
Tyler joined Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension in 2020 as a government and community vitality educator based in Van Buren County and serving southwest Michigan. Tyler works with communities and their elected and appointed officials to provide training, education, and resources around planning, land use, and resiliency.
“Helping communities manage their coastal resources is one of Michigan Sea Grant’s goals,” says Michigan Sea Grant’s Associate Director Heather Triezenberg. “Tyler works hard to get information about best management practices to the people who need it for the decisions they are making.”
At the September 2022 MSU Fall Extension Conference, Tyler received two well-earned rounds of applause for his land-use planning work. His Great Lakes Coastal Planning and Zoning course won an Innovative Program Award; and the Citizen Planner Program team (of which he is a member) received a John A. Hannah Award for Program Excellence.
An innovative coastal planning and zoning course
Tyler received the 2022 Community and Natural Resources Development Association Innovative Program award for his collaborative work in creating and delivering an email-based learning course on Great Lakes Coastal Planning and Zoning. The course was developed in response to research showing gaps in planning and zoning for the Great Lakes shoreline at the local level. Research also revealed that land-use decision-makers prefer on-demand, self-paced learning opportunities. Tyler’s course automatically delivers lessons directly to participants’ email inboxes, so they can engage the materials at their own pace.
Partners like the MSU Extension Land Use Team, MSU instructional technology specialists, and staff at other Great Lakes Sea Grant programs helped shape the course content. While developing the course, Tyler formed a new working relationship with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative (GLSLCI). He now serves on the advisory team for the GLSLCl’s Resilient Coastal Project Initiative in western Michigan.
Excellence in citizen planning
The John A. Hannah Award, named for MSU’s longest-serving president, is considered the most prestigious of the Extension awards. The 2022 award was presented to the team behind the Citizen Planner Program (CPP), which includes Tyler, Wayne Beyea, Terry Gibb, Harmony Gmazel, Kara Kelly, Brad Neumann, and Mary Reilly. The Citizen Planner Program has provided high-quality education to land-use decision-makers throughout Michigan for over 20 years, reaching more than 5,000 people. Through instruction and hands-on practice with scenarios based in the fictional community of Spartyville, participants grow their knowledge, skills, and confidence to fulfill their community roles.
The Citizen Planner Program started in 2000 with in-person training sessions. In 2006, CPP launched an online self-paced course, which was revamped in 2017. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, CPP educators had already been using distance learning technology to connect participants, so adapting to Zoom made for a near-seamless transition. The Michigan CPP has been adapted to a national audience in the form of two different national offerings: American Citizen Planner offered by the Extension Foundation and Planning Commissioner Training offered by Planetizen Courses.