What We Do


Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative engages:

  • 20 Schools

  • 3,118 Students

  • 73 Teachers

  • 50+ Community Partners
    in Houghton, Baraga, Keweenaw, Gogebic, and Ontonagon Counties

To find out more:

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 sustainability.

Place-based Stewardship Education

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 partners.

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.

Professional Learning

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.

School-Community Teams to Address Stewardship Needs

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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