Life of the Straits

The Life of the Straits is a fun and engaging program designed to help families learn more about the Straits of Mackinac. Program participants learn about local cultural and natural resources, develop a greater sense of place and pride, and discover ways to steward and grow their local cultural and natural resources.

This program highlights cultural and natural features in Mackinac, Chippewa, Emmet, Cheboygan and Presque Isle counties. Each year the Life of the Straits team finds underexplored and exciting places, diving deep into the cultural and natural history of the area. Usually, the program is held during in-person sessions. In 2020, the program was held virtually and the sessions were recorded for all to enjoy!

Find updates and registration information about future Life of the Straits sessions on the Michigan State University Extension website. 

Enjoy the program online!

Click the links to watch the 2020 recorded sessions on YouTube! Captions are available in the YouTube player.

Week 1: Dive deep into the history and current status of the Straits’ most iconic feature: The Mackinac Bridge!

Week 2: Cheboygan County 4-H Program Coordinator, Leigh Ann Theunick, takes us on an aquatic adventure through the Inland Waterway!
Week 3: Presque Isle County 4-H Program Coordinator Kaelie Fessler introduces us to the 40 Mile Point Lighthouse.

Week 4: Explore the Les Cheneaux area, home to a number of amazing features, including an area locals call “Narnia.”

Week 5: Get behind-the-scenes access to historical Fort Michilimackinac and learn the deep history of the Anishinaabe people in the Straits region.
Week 6: Join Mackinac County 4-H Program Coordinator Susan Kirkman as she takes us to a variety of places often missed by Mackinac Island’s average visitor.

About the program

The program normally consists of one in-person event from each county, where participants will be guided through learning experiences by local experts. Past explorations have taken place at locations like Fort Holmes on Mackinac Island, 40 Mile Point Lighthouse in Presque Isle county, and a glass bottom boat tour on the Cheboygan River. Participants have enjoyed events like fossil hunts, lighthouse art sessions, native plant restoration, and healthy local lunch feasts. Each exploration includes hands-on learning experiences along with expert Q&A sessions. Participants are also given tools and ideas on how they can help steward, utilize and enhance their own cultural and natural resources. The program is best suited for families with children age 8-12. However, anyone is welcome to join in with the whole family, regardless of age. There is something fun and exciting in each individual program for all! 

The program has been delivered in the Straits area since 2017, with each year bringing new and exciting changes. For the first three years, the program was held in person at various locations across the region. For 2020, the program went virtual for the first time, using videos of various exciting places in the Straits area and ending with at-home activities and an expert Q&A session. Future years will include a mix of both virtual and in-person events.

This program is created and managed by Michigan 4-H programs of each of the five Straits area counties, as well as Michigan Sea Grant. Funds have been provided from a variety of generous donors and sources including the 4-H Council, Michigan Sea Grant, and the Mackinac County Child Protection Round Table and the SNAP-ED program.