2023 Great Lakes B-WET Awards

Indigenous Communities Awards

The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan (ITCMI): Creating Meaningful and Cultural Watershed Educational Experiences for the Students of the Ojibwe Charter School will provide meaningful and cultural watershed educational experiences for students who attend Ojibwe Charter School in the Bay Mills Indian Community on the southeastern shore of Lake Superior. During the 2023-2024 school year project collaborators will develop and prepare the new educational program and engage educators in professional development. The following school year, 3rd-12th grade students participate in a culturally immersive program. The program will include outdoor educational experiences, such as a tour of Lake Superior State University’s fish hatchery, and visiting and collecting water quality data in different locations in three local watersheds. Student lessons will include a focus on climate change and exploring Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) to inform discussions on community adaptation. Guided by their teachers, students will choose an environmental action project that focuses on watershed protection/restoration, and at the end of this program, classes will perform a presentation to their peers and community.

Michigan Technological University with support from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community: Braiding Knowledge Systems for Increased Earth and Climate Literacy: “Inawendiwin: Connection, Observation, & Learning Together” will engage approximately 20 teachers and their students in the 1842 ceded territory of Michigan’s Western Upper Peninsula in a variety of Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs). Building upon previous program success, this project will engage Great Lakes Indigenous Knowledge Holders, students, teachers, and the broader public in exploring the intersection between Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Earth systems processes, people, and climate impacts. Teachers and students will explore Lake Superior watershed issues identified by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) including human migration, changing wildlife populations, changes in harvest seasons, drought, water valuation, and access to foods and medicines. The project will braid Anishinaabe-gikendaasowin (Anishinaabe knowledge) and “Western” science to support professional development opportunities, student-led stewardship projects, increase local watershed and climate literacy, and foster culturally competent communities by elevating Traditional Ecological Knowledge and climate impacts in the Keweenaw region.

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Earth Partnership Indigenous Arts and Sciences initiative: Nibi gaa-gikinoo’amaage, Nibi gaa-bimaaji'iwemagak (Water Will Teach, Water Will Give Life) II will engage Red Cliff Band youth and the educators who serve them at Bayfield School District in culturally-driven watershed education and stewardship action along Lake Superior. A seasonal learning framework of traditional Ojibwe skills, harvest, and language will engage students in culturally-integrated watershed exploration that connect the local public school to the larger community. Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences will explore aspects of Ojibwe culture in each season, focusing on Manoomin (wild rice) harvest and fishing in the Fall; Storytelling, wildlife monitoring, traditional food preparation and preservation, and ice fishing in the Winter; Sugarbush, foraging, native habitat restoration in the Spring; and foraging and fish ecology in the Summer. Additionally these MWEEs will highlight the intersections of watershed health, climate resilience, and cultural sustainability. Together, these experiences for youth and educators foster watershed education that is culturally sustaining and that nurtures and extends a mutually supportive educational partnership between the Red Cliff Band and the Bayfield School District, to support Red Cliff youth and the larger community in learning about and caring for their shared watershed.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe: Ninkchiwaawenindimin – “We honor each other” will engage students from Saginaw Chippewa Academy, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s K-5th grade school. During this new program, students will make connections to the Great Lakes watershed through locally relevant science and stewardship activities. Students will define an issue to address as a class, participate in an outdoor field experience, learn about the chosen topic, and decide how to respond to the need through environmental action(s). These Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) will include field trips to experience and learn about the Great Lakes ecosystem and participation in culturally significant water walks. The accompanying themes and lessons will connect environmental impacts on local watersheds, native plants and wildlife to traditional, Indigenous lifeways. Students’ environmental action projects may include planting/restoring protective vegetation and planting traditional medicines and other vegetation that connects students with Anishinaabe lifeways, traditions, and foods. Students may also choose to conduct family or community outreach that promote practices that positively impact the environment, and/or mentor others. Throughout the project, traditional knowledge keepers will inform the program and incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge into lessons.


Board of Education of the City of Chicago: Environmental Literacy for Environmental Justicewill launch a new program to build school-wide environmental literacy through core science instruction,so that Chicago Public School students, teachers, administrators, families, and community members gain the knowledge, skills, and confidence to collectively take action to improve the health of the Great Lakes. Project objectives include: 1) school-wide engagement to build environmental literacy through place-based science curriculum extensions, using the school grounds as spaces to explore resilience and adaptation as it relates to extreme weather and climate change; 2) linking community-based organizations, local advocates, and decision-makers to student groups through inquiry-to-action service learning project implementation - extending place-based explorations to the community to support students in understanding broader environmental justice issues that directly impact students and their families; 3) supporting facility operations and maintenance to connect sustainable infrastructure improvements to science classroom learning experiences, so that students in a single school build context throughout their multi-year high school career for real-world applications of adaptation and resilience strategies. For more information on CPS Project-Based Learning programs go to: https://ssce.cps.edu/project-based-learning/cimby/


The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System: Rivers2Lake: Activating a Community of Lake Superior Educatorswill support Rivers2Lake alumni teachers in a Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences (MWEEs) mentor network for teachers and students in northern Wisconsin's Lake Superior watershed. The project will bring together partners to support the network: including Superior Rivers Watershed Association, Northland College, and Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC). The project integrates student-centered education materials from GLIFWCwith classrooms–ensuring that participating teachers and students continue to engage in place-based and experiential teaching and learning long-term. Through this two-year project, Rivers2Lake education staff at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve and partners will; a) activate connections with  teachers,  b) provide in-depth professional development, and, c)  integrate  watershed learning experiences outdoors and in the classroom for students. For more information on Rivers2Lake go to: https://rivers2lake.org/


Central Michigan University: Building Flood Resilience by Connecting Students to their Watershed will engage high school students and teachers in central Michigan to broaden awareness of flood risk and climate change while also empowering them to evaluate and implement flood resilience solutions in their watershed. The project will develop a set of modules as part of a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) where students will collect and analyze climate and flood data; use simulations to explore flood risk; and visit natural infrastructure locations that help contribute to flood resilience in their watersheds. Students will also develop environmental action projects that will demonstrate to the public the flood risk concepts they learn and the role of flood resilience solutions. These projects will form the basis of a distributed museum of flood resilience, with exhibits distributed throughout the watershed that residents can physically visit. Exhibits will also be linked through a website to allow for increased engagement. The project will host a workshop to train earth /environmental  science teachers to incorporate this MWEE in their classrooms and provide ongoing support during implementation. The project targets five school districts in Mecosta, Isabella, and Midland counties with an expected engagement of high school students.

Eastern Michigan University/Southeast Michigan Stewardship (SEMIS) Coalition: Coalition Connections: Building Watershed and Climate Literacy Through Place-Based Explorations will expand upon a foundation of work in place-based stewardship education focused on watershed issues to organize a compelling professional learning sequence for the summers of 2023 and 2024 and the 2023-25 school years that supports Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) with a focus on community resilience in the school and surrounding neighborhood environment. The project will support elementary and middle school teachers each year, their students, and their community partners in developing and implementing MWEEs linked to community resilience, highlighting climate change effects on stormwater and watershed health. SEMIS professional learning and the MWEEs will also support teacher and student civic engagement actions focused on community resilience to environmental hazards and the need to be empowered to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

Lake Superior State University: Supporting data-centered 3-P student learning through teacher- and student-scaffolded experiences using MiWaterNet stream monitoring will continue strengthening a connection with students from five high schools in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan to their Great Lakes watershed using Lake Superior State University's Center for Freshwater Research and Education MiWaterNet initiative. This project expands on a previous project, integrating freshwater and data literacy among high school students through real-time stream monitoring with MiWaterNet by enhancing approaches used to develop data science literacy for teachers and students through professional development, hands-on field work accompanied by data workshops, instructional coaching for teachers, and professional mentors to connect students to stewardship/environmental action projects. As a result, teachers will increase their knowledge and confidence to lead students to use real-time water monitoring data from nearby rivers to identify and take action on an issue within their local watershed. Students will increase watershed awareness and community connections while recognizing the importance of data in scientific discovery and problem-solving. Immersive teacher and student experiences will: 1) build technical, scientific, and individual coaching support for teachers; 2) enhance students' data, freshwater, and climate understanding in the context of their Great Lakes watershed using “big data”; and 3) connect students directly with a professional mentor relevant to their communities. For more information on MiWaterNet initiative go to: https://www.lssu.edu/cfre/miwaternet/

New York

Paul Smith's College of Arts and Sciences: Youth for Climate and Water Action: Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences for Rural Schools in the Lake Ontario will guide students and support teachers to explore and compare climate change pressures that are degrading water resources in Great Lakes communities and the inequities that exist around these threats in rural areas in the Adirondacks and the Finger Lakes. The Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) will focus on deep learning with a small cohort of six school districts, partner high school teachers, and students in rural communities in the Lake Ontario watershed. It will help students and teachers develop meaningful personal connections to climate impacts in their communities and help prepare them to make informed decisions about their watershed. It will support student implementation of six place-based, equity-focused climate and water action projects that increase climate resilience and build Great Lakes stewardship in their community.


The University of Toledo: Engaging K-12 Students in Authentic Watershed Experiences, Science and Stewardship: Reconnecting to the Land at Earth Heart Farms will offer teacher professional development with long-term classroom-integrated Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences (MWEEs) for northwest Ohio teachers and students from Port Clinton, Toledo, Sandusky, and Norwalk, focusing on the conservation efforts at Earth Heart Farms (EHF). EHF is an 80-acre property that has been in conservation for 30 years and is a site for birding with a high level of biodiversity. The owner is working with many partners to make EHF a destination for teachers and students to connect with the land and learn about the science of nutrient runoff and the harmful algal blooms (HABs) that occur in Lake Erie. Teachers will receive summer professional development and support throughout the school year in the form of school visits, virtual meetings, and webinars led by scientists. Students will visit EHFs during the school year to learn about the landscape and develop research and stewardship/environmental action projects to be implemented.