The LSSI seeks to prepare K-12 students to
become knowledgeable citizens engaged in activities that enhance their school, community, and Lake Superior watershed.
Vision for Success:
Imagine the LSSI in 2013, five years after its inception. The LSSI lit a fire in teachers, administrators, parents, conservation organizations and local governments with the excitement and sense of purpose the original partners had launching the effort.
The LSSI will have expanded from one intermediate school district (ISD) and one math/science center to include Gogebic-Ontonagon, Dickinson-Iron, Marquette-Alger, Eastern Upper Peninsula, Menominee, and Delta-Schoolcraft ISDs and their associated math/science centers across the Upper Peninsula. The community partners list will have grown, as service groups, like 4-H, Girl and Boy Scouts, and other environmental groups have come to understand the LSSI and found their role. In each new community, long-term local stewardship projects and collaborations between schools and community organizations will be underway.
Great Lakes-themed workshops and summer institutes will take place yearly, and special seminars with science and stewardship experts for teachers will maintain the momentum. The Center will help local schools conduct annual family science nights and Great Lakes water festivals, Family Outdoor Weekends, and summer family adventures in participating communities. Local outreach through public programs, community events, and local media coverage will engage a broad spectrum of the community in the LSSI.
The Western UP Center for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental Education (WUPC) will provide primary leadership for the LSSI, with active engagement of partner schools, community organizations and agencies through advisory board meetings. With tangible results and an effective LSSI network established during the project funding period, student projects in real-world stewardship will be demanded by community organizations. The steering committee will continue to handle ongoing progress assessment and programmatic needs. Effective scheduling will keep the process on track during project planning, implementation, and ultimate reporting to the community through public events and media coverage.
Schools, universities, agencies, and organizations will share expertise. Several community organizations have nature preserves and ongoing stewardship programs with defined needs that will be available to schools for place-based educational opportunities. Furthermore, professional staff of these organizations will assist in project development and implementation as in-kind contributions. Some pending grants (MTU’s Center for Water & Society’s $2.5 million National Science Foundation’s "GK-12" program proposal) and new regional projects ("Fuels for Schools" – UPRCD) complement LSSI goals, with potential for partnership and support through shared resources, professional expertise, and innovative projects to benefit our region. MTU will continue involvement in local schools and the LSSI through the GEM Center, Isle Royale Institute and Center for Water and Society, with the MTU faculty, students and research resources made available. The National Park Service (NPS) will maintain the partnership with schools, providing professionals and NPS sites for collaborative stewardship efforts.
The Center will maintain its central communication role, maintaining the website, email and mail lists. Periodic mailings will provide practical information and identify networking opportunities. Partner organizations will highlight their LSSI involvement, successes, partnership and stewardship opportunities in their own newsletters, annual reports and websites. To attract community support, engage educators, community organizations, local government and school boards, and to recognize the students' accomplishments, we will engage local newspapers, television and other media outlets. The ongoing story of the LSSI is clearly newsworthy. The public will want to know how the LSSI is advancing and what students, teachers, and community partners are accomplishing. Regular media coverage and the breadth of involvement will raise awareness and ideally raise the level of discourse about environmental concerns and community approaches to stewardship.
A continuous improvement approach will by applied throughout all aspects of the LSSI. Our work with the GLSI evaluator will help us develop an evaluation mechanism to be used to assess new projects and implement continuous improvement as needed. Participants at all community events, teacher workshops, summer institutes, and student programs will be asked to complete evaluations to be shared with the Steering Committee and used to adjust course, identify new needs, and improve on current program offerings. In particular, the proposal, project planning and report documents for completed school-community stewardship projects will be archived and available for reference so other classes or schools can build directly upon previous experience: the LSSI will learn by doing.