A boy smiles while sitting in a kayak on a blue-green lake. He has curly dark hair and is wearing an orange life jacket.

Michigan’s rivers and lakes are great places to play and explore with non-motorized crafts like canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and paddleboards. Unfortunately, they’re also home to many aquatic invasive species. And paddlers can accidentally bring invasive species from one waterway to another.

So before you grab your paddle and life jacket in 2023, hop online and take the free MI Paddle Stewards course!

Michigan Sea Grant launched MI Paddle Stewards in 2019 to teach canoers, kayakers, and other paddlers how to identify, report, and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in their favorite Michigan waterbodies. MI Paddle Stewards has provided many in-person training workshops around the state and is now available as a short online learning module through Michigan State University Extension. 

The MI Paddle Stewards module is quick, free, and self-paced. Participants learn about the effects of invasive plants, snails, insects, and more. Along with tips for identifying common invaders, participants will discover how to report their sightings to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) app. These reports help state and local partners prioritize where to spend time, money, and effort monitoring and removing aquatic invaders.

In March 2023, the MI Paddle Stewards program received $94,500 in fresh funding from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program. This program is run by several Michigan state agencies and helps fund projects to monitor, remove, and educate people about invasive species. The 2023 award will distribute $3.6 million among 35 projects. This grant will help MI Paddle Stewards maintain and update the free online course, support partners who are hosting in-person training workshops, and more. 

Learn more about MI Paddle Stewards and sign up for the training course on Michigan Sea Grant’s website.