published June 26, 2013

GLISTEN Undergraduate Stewardship Liaisons Train on Historic Gibralter Island

Glenn Odenbrett, NCSCE


Two hundred years ago, Commodore Hazard Perry looked out from Gibraltar Island to spot the approaching British fleet that the fledgling United States Navy, under his command, would soon defeat in the decisive Battle of Lake Erie. Earlier this month, at Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory on this same island, undergraduates from five Great Lakes states prepared to lead their peers in the battle against Great Lakes ecosystem threats such as invasive species and toxic algae.


GLISTEN (the Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship Through Education Network, www.greatlakesed.net) employs a unique leadership model that deploys "undergraduate stewardship liaisons" (USLs) as peer leaders for environmental service-learning components of undergraduate STEM coursework that addresses Great Lakes ecosystem threats. USLs serve as a critical bridge between faculty on campus and community-based and governmental organizations directly involved in addressing those threats. From June 7-8, the USLs received intensive training, developed in partnership with the Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL - www.icl.org), to begin building that bridge. ICL trainer Nancy Oswald assisted GLISTEN Project Director Glenn Odenbrett and SENCER Center for Innovation (SCI)-Great Lakes co-director Joseph Koonce in developing and implementing the training sessions.

The training program began with an overview of the history, mission, and activities of Ohio State University's Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory (www.stonelab.osu.edu), the oldest freshwater biological field station in the United States, serving as a base for researchers from 12 agencies and academic institutions, as well of offering undergraduate and graduate courses during the summer. The interactive training sessions that followed included role clarification, syllabus analysis, problem solving, and action planning. The final session was dedicated to building a vibrant and supportive multi-campus USL network with the use of social media and other tools.

Feedback from USLs attending the training was overwhelmingly positive. The comments of Nadejda Mirochnitchenko from Bowling Green State University in Ohio summed up the responses of many of the trainees:
The Undergraduate Stewardship Liaison training was wonderful. The program was well developed and thorough as far as the role of a USL. The gathering of fellow scientists working towards a common goal made our work seem more significant, especially when beautiful Lake Erie could be seen from any point on the island.


Sarah Clark, from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, agreed:
Wow, what a great weekend! It gave us an opportunity to meet others that share the same interest to motivate service-learning students, which will not only help the Great Lakes, but also sustain them.


The USLs who attended the training will spend the rest of the summer working intensively with community-based and governmental organizations engaged in Great Lakes ecosystem restoration and stewardship. During this time, they will work with those organizations and faculty on their campuses to develop service-learning components of undergraduate STEM coursework to be implemented during the coming academic year.


Support for the USL training was provided by the George Gund Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio, and a grant to the SCI-Great Lakes, hosted by Case Western Reserve University from the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement. Stone Lab generously donated meeting space for the training. For more information about GLISTEN contact Glenn Odenbrett at glenn.odenbrett@ncsce.net. Joseph Koonce can be contacted at jfk7@case.edu regarding the SCI–Great Lakes. Nancy Oswald can be reached at nancy@icl.org regarding programs and services of the Institute for Conservation Leadership.

Photograph by Nadejda Mirochnitchenko