Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative
103 Teachers, a
40+ Community Partners
Baraga, Keweenaw, Gogebic, and Ontonagon Counties
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The Lake Superior Stewardship
Initiative (LSSI) brings together schools and community
partners to prepare K-12 students to become knowledgeable
citizens concerned about the Lake Superior watershed and
actively engaged in stewardship projects in their community.
The desired outcome of the LSSI is
the institutionalization of place-based education in partner
schools and the implementation of watershed stewardship
projects by schools and community partners, enhancing the
health of the Great Lakes through public engagement in local
stewardship efforts, with a goal of long-term
Place-based Stewardship learning
features exploration of the local community and natural
surrounding through hands-on experiences that involve
discovery, inquiry and problem-solving, all of which develop
students’ skills and abilities. This type of learning
sometimes also involves interdisciplinary curricula and team
teaching. The students work on real-world issues that they
identify, or on needs identified during community meeting of
teachers, students, parents, residents and other local
Research on Place-based Stewardship
learning is clear: it works. Students in schools and
classrooms that use the needs of their communities as a
platform for learning score higher on standardized tests in
reading, writing, math, science, and social studies.
Students tend to improve their overall GPA, stay in school
longer, and receive higher-than-average scholarship awards.
Teaching and learning that takes place through the
Stewardship Initiative is aligned with the Michigan Merit
Curriculum, and the Michigan Science Standards.
Students in classrooms that feature
Place-based Stewardship learning also demonstrate higher
motivation to achieve individual potential compared to their
peers in other classrooms. Teacher report other benefits to
students: fewer discipline problems, better attendance,
deeper civic engagement, and more responsible behavior in
both school and community settings. Place-based Stewardship
learning benefits students and communities.
Students in Place-based Stewardship
programs spend more time out of doors, develop more
attachment to where they live, and exhibit great
environmental stewardship. At a time when there is growing
concern about young people spending little time outdoors,
being physically inactive, and feeling alienated from their
communities, the initiative seeks to help young people
reconnect with the places where they live and, in the
process, become active environmental stewards.
Focusing on community needs opens
young people to a larger world of possibilities. The
hands-on learning and exposure to various professional
disciplines that young people gain in Place-based
Stewardship often jump-starts their thinking about a new set
of career opportunities. Further, the deeper awareness of
where they live can lead students to acquire a new
appreciation of place that can last a lifetime-possibly
inspiring young people to remain in Michigan in the future.
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LSSI focuses on the goal of building
capacity in each of our school-community teams by promoting
teacher leadership, increasing teacher participation in each
school teams’ efforts, and enabling the members’ ownership
of their professional learning.
LSSI provides a variety of
professional learning opportunities in a range of formats
such as initiative-wide workshops, professional learning
communities at the school level, and school/community events
such as Dinner and Dialogues and the Green Film series. The
content of these offerings are based on needs expressed by
teachers through online surveys given at regular intervals.
Since 2008, school-community teams
comprised of students, teachers, administrators, and
community partners (non-profit organizations, government
agencies, units of government) have designed and conducted
stewardship projects responsive to local community
stewardship needs, supportive of the school curriculum, and
have facilitated communication within their community.
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