Meaghan Gass holds her award plaqueThe Michigan Science Teachers Association (MSTA) has named Michigan State University Extension educator Meaghan Gass as its 2024 Informal Science Educator of the year. Meaghan, a Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator, serves in the Saginaw Bay region focusing on Great Lakes literacy, community resilience, and place-based and natural resources education. She received her award during the organization’s annual awards banquet in Lansing this March.

MSTA is a state chapter of the National Science Teachers Association, one of the largest science organizations of its kind in the United States. Its mission is to stimulate, support and provide leadership for the improvement of science education throughout Michigan. According to MSTA, Meaghan was chosen for her “unique and extraordinary accomplishments, active leadership, scholarly contributions, and direct and substantial contributions to the improvement of non-school based science education over a significant period of time.”

Meaghan is a leader in the field of place-based and environmental education. She consistently seeks innovative ways to engage educators and students to excite them to learn more about the Great Lakes — while increasing awareness, stewardship, and informed-decision making.

Meaghan Gass holds a baby sturgeon beside a river

“I am so honored to have received this recognition from MSTA,” said Meaghan. “I have learned so much from the many formal and non-formal educators I have worked with in my Extension role, and I have also met so many inspiring educators through this organization and at its annual conference.”

She is also a co-leader for the regional Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL) which is a Sea Grant education network and partnership. The network promotes Great Lakes literacy among an engaged community of educators, scientists, residents, and students by encouraging hands-on experiences and basin-wide stewardship. Meaghan supports educators through professional learning opportunities, including the Lake Huron Place-based Education Summer Teacher Institute and Great Lakes Literacy education exploration. In addition, she regularly partners with 4-H for youth development opportunities such as the Saginaw Bay 4-H Fish Camp.

“My favorite Great Lakes Literacy Principle is: ‘Much remains to be learned about the Great Lakes,” said Meaghan. “While there is much we may not know, by learning and working together with youth and adults we share and improve our knowledge and protecting this freshwater treasure.”