May 2020

Note from the director

Dear friends,

I must start my comments by recognizing how we are all impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and the severe challenges it brings to our personal health, our economic well-being, and our mental health. This crisis has forced us all into new ways of working, interacting, communicating, educating, and caring for our families. That said, I am amazed at how our staff at Michigan Sea Grant has risen up to meet these challenges. While our work takes on a different level of importance, the contributions and efforts of our staff to continue to support the well-being of our communities, and the fundamental goals of our research, education, and outreach programs, has been truly remarkable. I want to publicly recognize their efforts and thank them for their dedication and ingenuity in adapting to these challenging times. 

We must all remain strong and committed to supporting everyone’s health and safety. We must also honor the commitment of our front-line workers and acknowledge the value of their sacrifices. I thank everyone for their efforts to adapt and to be resilient. Stay well, stay strong, and continue to support one another in every way possible.

Best wishes,

Tom Johengen, Michigan Sea Grant Director

Michigan Sea Grant programs go digital

In the interest of public health, Michigan State University Extension has decided to cancel all in-person meetings and events through the end of August 2020. Our wonderful team of MISG Extension educators is working hard to create virtual versions of their summer programming wherever possible. You can keep track of virtual events on our events calendar. We are also updating the individual program pages with information about virtual participation options.

Our annual fishery workshops are being presented digitally. Check our YouTube channel for incoming recordings from the Southern Lake Michigan workshop on April 23, the Lake Huron Open Water workshop on April 30, Let’s Talk Fish in Lake Huron with Michigan DNR on May 7, and the Saginaw Bay workshop on May 14. Registration is still open for the Les Cheneaux Islands workshop on May 21. 

Digital versions of the MI Paddle Stewards training workshops and Water School curriculum are in the works. Check the program pages for updates.

H.O.M.E.S. at Home

Birds and movies and mudpuppies — oh my! Our 13 “H.O.M.E.S. at Home” broadcasts in March and April covered a lot of ground, including poetry, how to cook fish, what kinds of turtles live in Michigan, and which Great Lakes cities get visits from freighters. Our broadcasts may be done for the season, but all the videos are captioned and archived on our YouTube channel (find the links on our H.O.M.E.S. at Home webpage). Catch up on any broadcasts you missed, or send a link to friends and family members who might enjoy learning about the Great Lakes.

Each episode includes a fun learning or crafting challenge — and if you complete at least five challenges, let us know so that we can send you a certificate and add you to the Great Lakes Hall of Science Heroes! The certificate submission link is also at the webpage above.

If you’ve watched at least one episode, either live or recorded, please take this quick survey to help us make the series even better for future seasons. Thank you!

Find up-to-date outdoor recreation information

As the weather warms up, Michiganders usually grab paddles, fishing poles, and boat keys, and head for the water. Before you hitch up your trailer or start packing the sunscreen and beach towels, make sure to check the up-to-date public health guidelines in the “Outdoor Recreation” section of the COVID-19 FAQ page. Find information about facility closures, trail access, charter fishing availability, and more at the COVID-19 information hub on the Michigan DNR website.

Michigan Sea Grant awards second round of summer internships

For the second year, Michigan Sea Grant is pleased to offer undergraduate internships that fund students to tackle Great Lakes stewardship projects in their communities. In 2020, we are supporting 16 students from 7 Michigan colleges and universities. Their projects touch on a wide range of topics, from the valuation of tree planting in Detroit to modeling native and invasive species distributions.

Given the uncertainties introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are working with the interns to adjust the goals or scopes of their projects, as needed. We look forward to seeing what these students will achieve during their internships.

Tyler Penrod was part of the inaugural cohort of interns in Summer 2019. His project involved using drones to capture images and videos of Lake Superior’s coastline to assist with restoration and monitoring efforts. He shared his work with us at a local internship symposium hosted by Michigan Sea Grant in August 2019, and then took his presentation to local, national, and international stages, including an ecological restoration conference in South Africa.

“The MISG Environmental Internship Symposium was my first presentation of my project, so I want to say thank you, not only for the opportunity to practice my delivery, but also for the financial support to make this project possible,” says Tyler. “The internship was a phenomenal opportunity for me to pursue my personal and professional dreams.”

Bookstore shipping on hold

The Michigan Sea Grant online bookstore is still open for orders. However, please note that it may be some time before orders can be shipped, as our staff are currently working from home under Governor Whitmer’s public health guidelines. If you need a bookstore order to be shipped by a certain date, please let us know at

Fisheries article screen shotFishery heritage featured in Michigan History Magazine

For as long as people have lived, explored, and settled in Michigan, fishing has provided a critical source of food, commerce, social development, and recreation. Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educators Dan O’Keefe and Brandon Schroeder contributed an article to the May/June 2020 issue of the Historical Society of Michigan’s magazine, Michigan History. In it, they explore the dynamic history of Great Lakes fisheries and the people, places, and practices that have shaped the recreational and commercial fisheries we celebrate today. Read their article for free on the Historical Society’s website (PDF).

Two Michigan candidates selected as Coastal Management fellows

Michigan Sea Grant is pleased to announce that two candidates from Michigan have been awarded fellowships with the NOAA Office for Coastal Management.

Managed by the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, the Coastal Management and Digital Coast Fellowship Program offers on-the-job training for postgraduate students in coastal resource management and policy. Candidates are matched with state and jurisdictional coastal zone programs, and other key NOAA partner organizations who are members of our Digital Coast partnership team to work on select projects chosen by NOAA. Michigan Sea Grant recruits and nominates students attending Michigan universities. These fellowships are highly competitive with only nine finalists selected from an initial application pool of nearly 100.

Kate VogelThis year, Michigan candidate Kate Vogel was selected to work with the Maryland Chesapeake and Coastal Service to identify and implement new technical guidance and on-the-ground climate adaptation best practices for several Maryland Department of Natural Resources land unit sites in order to assist land managers in ensuring the long-term resilience of local ecosystems, infrastructure, recreational uses, and public access. Kate comes to the fellowship with a master’s in conservation ecology from the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. In addition, she holds a bachelor’s in environmental science from the University of Michigan. Kate will start her fellowship in August.

Eleanor RappoleeEleanor Rappolee, the second Michigan candidate, was selected to work with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (in partnership with the Coastal States Organization) to support coastal communities to tackle one of the greatest challenges to reducing flood damages and costs in a changing climate—repeatedly flooded properties—through research, guidance development, and direct technical assistance. Eleanor comes to the fellowship with a master’s in environmental sciences from Michigan State University. In addition, she holds a bachelor’s in geological sciences from Michigan State. Eleanor will start her fellowship in August.

Join the Great Lakes Bioblitz

On Earth Day, folks around the Great Lakes region started pulling out their phones and cameras to contribute to the month-long Great Lakes Bioblitz. A bioblitz is an event that encourages people to find and identify as many living things as possible in a given area. Check out our Great Lakes Bioblitz episode of H.O.M.E.S. at Home with Minnesota Sea Grant’s Marte Kitson to learn more about this great project. 

The Great Lakes Bioblitz runs until May 20, so there’s still time to join in the fun. Participating in the bioblitz is as simple as making an account with, taking a picture of a living thing near you (no humans, pets, or houseplants, please), and submitting it to the website. Visit the Center for Great Lakes Literacy’s website to learn more about the bioblitz and how you can get involved.

Even after the bioblitz is over, you can continue submitting photos and observations to iNaturalist to keep growing this important citizen science database.

Fresh recipes on Freshwater Feasts

If you’re looking for lockdown cooking inspiration, check out Freshwater Feasts! We’ve added several new recipes this spring, including a vegetarian soup using native wild rice and a Tuscan-inspired bean dish with poached fish fillets. Let us know how you like them if you give them a try!

Spring cleaning for the Michigan Clean Marina Program

The Michigan Clean Marina Program is a voluntary certification program to help marinas and their patrons implement environmentally friendly boating and maintenance practices. This spring, the program was spiffed up with an improved certification process and checklist for pledged and certified marinas. The website has also been updated, and the Clean Marina Classroom is now available for free! Check it out at

From Extension

COVID-19 resources for fisheries and aquaculture industries

By Lauren Jescovitch
This collection of resources emphasizes fisheries and aquaculture marketing and business relief programs as of April 9, 2020.

MI EnviroImpact Tool: Help crops spring forward by keeping nutrients on the field

By Meaghan Gass and Erica Rogers
MI EnviroImpact Tool is a free decision support tool for short-term nutrient application planning that shows daily runoff risk across Michigan.

Earth Day every day

By Meaghan Gass and Brandon Schroeder
Students from northeast MI and Saginaw Bay participated in junior science and humanities symposium.

Learn about lakes, streams, and watersheds with MSU Extension

By Paige Filice
Whether you want to dip your toes or take a deep dive, MSUE has an educational experience for you.

Alien langugage: Using controlled vocabulary to talk about invasive species

By El Lower and Rochelle Sturtevant
Researchers can use different words to refer to the same phenomenon, and having agreed-upon definitions can help.