Initiative News & Calendar
November 17, 2017
Houghton Middle School wins Lexus Eco Challenge again
HOUGHTON — HOUGHTON — For the third time, Houghton Middle School students have won the Lexus Eco Challenge in the Land a ... >>more
November 16, 2017
Local educators present at Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative's Place Based Education Conference
The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) Place Based Education Conference took place at Eastern Michigan Universi ... >>more
October 26, 2017
Students spend day learning at Lake Superior Water Festival
HOUGHTON — High school students from five Upper Peninsula counties learned more about the Great Lakes and the research b ... >>more
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Sarah Geborkoff and Lauri Davis receive Awards
Michigan’s top environmental, outdoor educators honored
LANSING, Mich. (WLUC) - The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education honored several Michigan educators at its annual conference Saturday at the Kellogg Biological Station, near Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Katie Kunze, the alliance’s outgoing president and a teacher at Three Lakes Academy in Curtis, Michigan, said, “We are very proud of the contributions these individuals have made to improve Michigan’s environment by reaching thousands of citizens with positive messages and education.”
The alliance’s highest recognition in 2016 went to two nonformal educators.

Theresa Neal, a park interpreter at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, who was recognized for her contributions as an educator in a unique area of the state. Kevin Frailey, award chair for the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education and education services manager at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, described Neal’s impact as “tremendous.” "Tahquamenon Falls has more than 50,000 visitors who stop to see the falls on their way somewhere else,” Frailey said. “But Theresa always finds effective methods to slow them down and educate them about Michigan’s natural resources, whether it be about wolves or invasive species.” Neal has worked as a DNR park interpreter for 11 years.

Mark Copeland, store manager at Jay’s Sporting Goods in Gaylord, who was recognized for his contributions in outdoor education. Copeland has been instrumental in archery program growth and has influenced thousands of shooters in the state including youth, teachers and seniors. The Archery Trade Association claims a 26-percent growth in the sport in recent years with 21 million U.S. participants. Copeland has dedicated his time to the Otsego Wildlife Legacy Society, the National Archery in the Schools Program and Centershot Ministries.

The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education gave out three appreciation awards:

Sarah Geborkoff, a teacher at Houghton Middle School. Geborkoff’s middle school EcoChallenge team won back-to-back rounds in the National Lexus EcoChallenge in 2015 and 2016, an honor bestowed upon only eight schools a year nationally. Geborkoff also works with her students to implement the Huron Creek watershed stewardship project in Houghton County. She has written numerous grants to enhance her students’ learning-- purchasing a greenhouse, creating a pollinator garden, and supporting the entire 7th grade class participation in ‘A Day of Science’ at Michigan Technological University.

Lauri Davis, a Houghton High School teacher, is the lead teacher for her Lake Superior stewardship project titled ‘Human & Nature Investigations in a Lake Superior Tributary Ecosystem at the Houghton School Forest’ since 2014. Her students design their own research projects each year, collect data and report their findings to the community. In addition, Davis has generously shared her knowledge and expertise by assisting with three summer teacher professional development programs on global change, sustainable future, and science research with students at Michigan Technological University. She also conducts presentations at state and national education conferences, and writes articles for the Michigan Science Teachers Association and MAEOE newsletters.

Mike Smalligan, forest stewardship coordinator for the Michigan DNR. Smalligan tackled head-on the challenge of transportation funding for school field trips by creating Wheels to Woods, a grant program encouraging teachers to take their students to Michigan forests. This year Wheels to Woods has awarded $33,349 for busing costs to help 7,424 students, 321 teachers and 1,113 parents visit a forest for an educational field trip. Wheels to Woods is a partnership of the DNR, the Michigan Forest Products Council and the Michigan Tree Farm Committee, the fiduciary for Wheels to Woods. Applications are available at CLICK HERE
“Volunteer” awards were given to:
Ellen Koehler of Milford, Michigan: Koehler has served as a 4-H volunteer for many years. Her 4-H Outdoor Adventure Challenge Club – founded more than 20 years ago with her late husband, Paul – has benefited hundreds of children through activities like climbing, caving, canoeing and backpacking.

Dave Frye of Oakland County, Michigan: Frye is an avid birder and volunteer for both Oakland County Parks and the Oakland Audubon Society. His work as an enthusiastic educator and citizen scientist with the annual Grassland Bird Survey has been a huge asset to the local community.
The Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education is a statewide professional association supporting and advancing environmental and outdoor education throughout Michigan. Learn more at: CLICK HERE
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