IISG offers undergrad internships to celebrate 30 years

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is celebrating 30 years of researching, preserving, and protecting our waterways, and we’re looking ahead to the next 30 years as well by offering new undergraduate summer internships.

The Summer Student Internship Program is an opportunity for successful applicants to spend 12 weeks working with a Sea Grant specialist directly on issues affecting the Great Lakes. Internship projects will include research, communications, and outreach components, and applicants will also have the opportunity to participate in activities outside of their specific internship duties.

Internships are available in the following areas:

•             Aquatic invasive species
•             Implementation of a real-time monitoring buoy in Lake Michigan
•             Great Lakes limnological sampling and data management
•             Water supply economics and planning
In addition to these being a terrific way for students to expand their resume and develop on-the-job skills, these are also paid internships. Interns will receive between $10.00-$12.00/hour for 37.5 hours per week, and will be considered temporary employees of either Purdue University or the University of Illinois. The intern positions will be based in either West Lafayette, IN or Chicago, IL, and some travel and/or weekend work may be expected. Interns are responsible for the cost of housing plus transportation to and from their work place.
To apply, send application materials via email to Angela Archer, amcbride@purdue.edu by 5:00 PM ET on March 19th, 2012. Successful applicants will be notified of their acceptance by mid-April 2012. Internships are expected to start May 14, 2012 and end August 3, 2012. You can also contact Angela for additional information at the e-mail above or by phone at 765-496-3722.
For complete information about the internships, including required application materials, specifics for each of the positions, and more, please visit the internship website. And get ready to be a part of the next 30 years of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s efforts to preserve and protect our water resources.


Natural Lawn Care Workshops Feature Sustainable Lawn Care Expert Chip Osborne

Looking for a way to grow your business in the expanding field of natural lawn care? Interested in transitioning your parks and municipal properties away from chemical/conventional lawn care? Does your school or childcare need to manage their turf to protect children from pesticides?

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the Safer Pest Control Project, and their Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant partners will host a full-day workshop on Natural Lawn Care for Professionals on March 21 and a half-day workshop for schools and childcare facilities on March 22.

The March 21 professional turf workshop will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Indiana University Northwestern Conference Center, 3400 Broadway in Gary, Indiana. The fee for this workshop is $125 (lunch included). Group discounts are available.

The second workshop for schools and childcare facilities will be held on March 22 from 8:30 to 12:30 at the Northwest Indiana Educational Service Center, 2939 41st Street in Highland, IN. Registration is $35.

Growing public demand for safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly lawns has created a prime opportunity for turf pros looking to get into this field and address customers’ concerns. Natural lawn care emphasizes building healthy soil, encouraging soil biology, selecting the right grass, watering properly, and managing pests naturally. The topics to be covered include: Sustainability and Natural Lawns, Soil and Healthy Landscapes, Transitioning to Natural Lawn Care, Budgets and Saving Money, and the impact of Phosphorus on Lawns.

The featured speaker for both workshops is Chip Osborne, President of Osborne Organics, who has over 30 years of experience in the turf and horticulture industry, as well as experience managing athletic and municipal turf fields naturally. Additional experts include: Mark O’Brien from Cardno JF New, Marija Watson from the Indiana Wildlife Federation, and Joe Exl from Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

To sign up for the turf workshop, view the complete agenda, read presenter biographies, and see registration materials, please visit the workshop website. Call 773-878-7378 ext. 202 with any questions. Registration for the Schools and Childcares workshop can be done by visiting this link and clicking on workshop registration.


Upcoming workshop gives science teachers hands-on opportunties

Illinois and Indiana science teachers can add some terrific information to their lessons and share first-hand experience with their students after attending an upcoming 2-day workshop. Purdue University and Indiana University Northwest researchers will demonstrate, teach, and work alongside attendees to display research about the physical and biological processes in and around Lake Michigan. Teachers will have the chance to design new activities as part of a National Science Foundation project, and Illinois teachers will be able to earn CPDUs by attending.

Educators from the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program and the staff of the Great Lakes Research and Education Center will also be on hand to demonstrate research techniques, assist with developing activities, and much more. It’s a fantastic opportunity for science teachers to work hands-on with standards-based, data-manipulation activities that you can use.

Don’t miss this great opportunity. Sign up and share this information with others too! Limited spaces are available, so be sure to register soon.
Details for the workshop:
Dune Dynamics:  Exploring Movement of Sand, Water, and Life Along the Southern Shore of Lake Michigan
A workshop for Teachers, Grades 6-12
June 18-19, 2012
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

To register, please contact Cary Troy, troy@purdue.edu. And for more detailed information, check out these great videos online.
Autonomous Underwater Vehicle           
Indiana Lakeshore Gravels


Student contest to spotlight best medicine disposal service-learning projects

Photo Credit: Laura Senteno
With students and teachers across the country working to educate the public about the importance of properly disposing pharmaceuticals and personal-care products, Sea Grant has decided to shine the spotlight on 20 student projects that have excelled in this area.
“We want to highlight exemplary projects that demonstrate the best approaches for helping citizens understand this issue,” said Robin Goettel, IISG associated director for education. “This contest gives students the opportunity to be recognized for their teamwork and resourcefulness.”

Pharmaceuticals and personal-care products can impact the environment and can end up in local water sources if they are disposed of incorrectly, such as flushing medicine down the toilet. In fact, a 2008 Associated Press investigation found pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.

To be eligible for the contest, students must be in 5th-12th grade in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, or New York.

On the entry form, teachers should explain how the students chose the project, how they researched the issue, how the projected was planned, how the plan was implemented, and how the students evaluated the project’s effectiveness.

Each project will be judged on organization, scientific accuracy, a concise message, sources, originality, as well as proper grammar and spelling. The 20 winners will be selected and announced by June 8, with a prize of a $100 education resource gift certificate.

All entries must be submitted electronically no later than May 24th to Goettel at goettel@illinois.edu. Visit here for more details on how to submit a project.

The idea for the contest was conceived by project leader Marti Martz, Pennsylvania Sea Grant coastal outreach specialist, but the contest is a collaboration of Sea Grant programs in Illinois-Indiana, Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania.

The competition is funded by the U.S. EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant, “Undo the Great Lakes Chemical Brew,” which supports efforts to clean up toxic water, protect watersheds from polluted run-off, and more. 


In the news: Indiana wetland is latest Asian carp battleground

From the Republic:
In the grassy belly of a wetland known as Eagle Marsh, Mother Nature decides what water goes down the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico and what will end up in Lake Erie via the Maumee River.
 When adjacent watersheds harbor a finned toxin such as the dreaded Asian carp, this swampy mixing bowl becomes a hot spot for an irreparable breach in the natural and manmade barriers that have, so far, kept the carp out of the Great Lakes and its river systems.
 The carp is approaching the Great Lakes' shores, threatening the $7 billion a year sport-fishing industry on the Great Lakes. The marsh's proximity to the Maumee "make that place ground zero in this fight to keep the carp out," said Paul Pacholski, a Lake Erie charter boat captain for nearly three decades. "If they get through that marsh to the Maumee, it's over. It would be a disaster of biblical proportion." Read more.


Thin ice could mean low levels for the Great Lakes

The very thought of lake ice might give you a chill, but it serves a very important purpose in the lifecycle of the Great Lakes. This mild weather, though, has resulted in much less ice than is average. From Medill School at Northwestern University:
Wetlands - the marshy shorelines that harbor countless plants and animals - thrive on the constant fluctuation of the seasons and Great Lakes water levels. Not having substantial ice coverage allows for greater evaporation. And evaporation leaves water levels across the Great Lakes lower over a prolonged span of time.

“Having low water levels next year doesn't make me nervous. Having low levels over the last 10 years makes me worry,” said Donald Uzarski, director of Central Michigan University’s Institute for Great Lakes Research.
Read the full article here.


Fish and plants grow sustainably through aquaponics

If you are an aquaculturist who subscribes to the saying, “waste not, want not,” you might want to look into the new farming practice of aquaponics, which combines the soil-less growing technique of hydroponics with aquaculture.

“Aquaponics is great because you are integrating fish production with plant production,” said Kwamena Quagrainie, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant aquaculture marketing specialist. “You are also making maximum use of limited resources.”

Specifically, the system uses the nutrients that are emitted from fish to nourish plants, creating a habitat that is self-sustainable and eliminating waste. As a result, aquaponics does not require a large amount of space.

“This technique is a great avenue for achieving green infrastructure in urban areas. It can be practiced by individuals or communities for food production,” said Quagrainie. “You could set up an aquaponic system in your own garage or your basement if you wanted to.”

Quagrainie’s interest in aquaponics began a couple years back when he began hearing about it from local producers. He visited AquaRanch Industries, located in Flanagan, Illinois, to learn more about the aquaponic process.

Since 2006, Quagrainie has held aquaponic workshops each year to spotlight the benefits of this process and explain how to set up your own system. Attendees also learn about costs and marketing, as well as visit an aquaponics facility. The next workshop will likely be in the spring. Through Purdue Extension, Quagrainie also developed a video that provides an overview of aquaponics.

“We are trying to target people who are really interested in getting into aquaponics,” Quagrainie said. “We want to reach people who are thinking about sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint.”

“Aquaponics is a fairly new technique,” said Myles Harston, who runs AquaRanch Industries and assists Quagrainie with the workshops. “But it makes sense. The plants feed the fish, the fish feed the plants, and the plants clean up the water for the fish. You can continually reuse water with very little turnover or waste.”

Harston added that an aquaponic facility is very similar to a garden; and the produce grown through this process is very fresh. “Hydroponic tomatoes are not great tasting. They have a kind of sterile taste,” he said. “But an aquaponic tomato tastes just as good as a garden-grown tomato.”

Even though aquaponics is not widely practiced yet, the word has been spreading. A new company in Chicago called 312 Aquaponics opened its doors last year. Brian Watkins, one of the co-founders, said he was partially inspired after attending a seminar by Harston. “When I first started looking into aquaponics, I was really blown away. I kept thinking that this can be very important for the future,” Watkins said.


IISG Specialists Team Up to Protect Our Waters

This year, anglers and boaters who attended the “Let’s Go Fishing Show” in Collinsville, Illinois from January 6–8 got a chance to do more than buy new fishing gear and check out the latest boats. Two IISG specialists joined forces to provide information about ways they can help protect rivers and lakes.

Laura Kammin, pollution prevention program specialist, and Sarah Zack, aquatic invasive species specialist, co-hosted a booth to highlight some of the problems facing our waters—improper disposal of unwanted medicines and aquatic invasive species. They explained to nearly 240 show attendees how to find local medicine collection programs or how to safely dispose of unwanted medicines if programs are not available in their area. In addition, showgoers were able to explore IISG’s display of aquatic invasive species information, including preserved specimens and Asian carp mounts. More than 360 boaters and anglers were informed of the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ campaign, which explains what steps to take to prevent the transport of invasive species.

Show attendees were very impressed with the IISG booth. Several people shared how glad they were to see this information made available. One visitor even went so far as to say that the IISG booth was the best booth he’d seen, and that it was the most important booth at the show. Laura and Sarah will team up again at the “Rockford Boat, Vacation, and Fishing Expo” from February 17–19.

For more information on how you can safely dispose of medicine contact Laura Kammin. For more information about aquatic invasive species and the Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!™ campaign contact Sarah Zack or visit www.protectyourwaters.net.

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant AIS outreach team is part of the Illinois Natural History Survey Lake Michigan Biological Station in Zion.


Getting Sheboygan off the AOC list

The Sheboygan River in Wisconsin is a priority Area of Concern (AOC) for cleanup, restoration, and remediation according to the EPA. IISG’s Caitie McCoy has been working directly with communities in all of the Great Lakes areas, and attended a meeting in late January in Sheboygan to discuss the river cleanup project with the people who rely on and care for the river.

Caitie has been actively involved with the Sheboygan AOC since April of last year, when she began a case study on the river in order to understand community concerns and perspectives on the river, the needs of the community, and potential benefits and challenges of a remediation and restoration plan. The case study allowed Caitie and IISG intern Ada Morgan to develop a full understanding of the area, as well as grow beneficial relationships within the community to assist in planning the project.

The January meeting in Sheboygan, hosted by several partners in the project, as well as the project team and the USEPA, provided another networking opportunity and another chance for Caitie to work directly with the project team and the community on ensuring the best plan and path for the project.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant has a special collaboration with the USEPA Great Lakes National Program Office, which allows Caitie to be involved in AOCs throughout the Great Lakes area, and to interact with the respective communities to benefit the projects and the people. Through collaborations like this, Caitie has the opportunity to work with other Sea Grant programs, including the Wisconsin Sea Grant. They will be working together to complete a video that will offer boaters, residents, and others important details on how a remediated Sheboygan river can benefit them.

For more information on current AOCs and the organizations that are working together to clean up these sites, contact Caitie McCoy, and visit the USEPA webpage for further details.


Climate change the focus of after school conservation club workshop

IISG's Molly Woloszyn organized a workshop for several Chicago-area teachers recently, and wrote us to share news of the event.

On January 31st, I had the opportunity to help organize and present at a workshop for several Chicago Public School teachers titled “Climate Change: What Is It and What Does It Mean for Illinois?” The workshop attendees all lead after school conservation clubs for 6th-12th graders through the Chicago Conservation Corps (C3), a program of the Chicago Department of Transportation.

C3 project coordinator Kristen Pratt invited me to speak to the teachers about the basics of climate science and climate change. I did this workshop in collaboration with the Illinois State Climatologist, Dr. Jim Angel, who enriched the workshop by sharing his abundant knowledge on the climate of Illinois, as well as projections for the future of Illinois’ climate.

After receiving feedback from the teachers, I was thrilled to hear that they learned a lot about climate science and climate change, a topic that is very important to them and especially relevant nowadays. Many teachers said they found it valuable to learn what is happening with the climate in Illinois and more specifically in Chicago.

The topics I spoke to the teachers about included climate variability, the natural controls of climate and climate change, the influence humans can have on Earth’s climate system, the greenhouse effect, and the main sources for greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and Chicago.

Not only were the teachers enthusiastic to learn about the topic, they were also eager to share the information with their students, which I think is one of the best results from the workshop.

The mission of the C3 Student Clubs Program is to recruit, train, and support a network of teachers and students to improve the quality of life in their schools and neighborhoods through environmental service projects that protect water, clean air, restore land, and save energy.


Help identify invasive species with IISG's new Asian Carp watch card

Sea Grant's  bighead and silver carp WATCH card is new and improved. In addition to the fresh design, we've changed the card to highlight the term "Asian carp" to match what people are hearing in the media, added pictures of the juvenile fish in comparison with a native shad, and included the national STOP Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS) phone number.

If you’re interested in ordering these pocket-sized cards, please visit the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant webpage.

For more information, contact Aquatic Invasive Species Assistant Danielle Hilbrich at (847)242-6442.

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant AIS outreach team is part of the Illinois Natural History Survey's Lake Michigan Biological Station in Zion.


New AVMA medicine disposal webpage can help protect people and pets

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has created a new webpage that provides information, tips, and safe practices for veterinarians, pet owners, and the public at large to keep unwanted medicine out of the water supply.

The most common poisons that threaten our beloved pets are our own medicines—ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antidepressants, and ADHD medications. Any medication, even those prescribed for a pet, can pose a risk to dogs or cats who decide to eat what they find.

That is why Sea Grant and the AVMA have teamed up to provide information for multiple audiences including animal owners who, along with the general public, may need to dispose of unused and expired medicine. By offering valuable disposal tips, safe disposal collection locations, and more, the new webpage and the partnership between IISG and the AVMA look to make things safer for pets, people, and the environment.

The partnership kicked off in a big way when Sea Grant and the AVMA joined forces to get the message—"Don’t flush medicine"—to a Times Square audience.

Visit the new AVMA Unwanted Medicine web page today, and share it with your family and friends. By helping to spread this valuable information, you can help keep people and pets safe.


Natural lawn care summit brings in nationwide experts

As we inch closer to warmer weather and more opportunities to get outside, it's the perfect time to start thinking about the choices you'll make in maintaining your lawn or landscaping this season. 

At the Lawn and Lake Summit on March 30-31 at the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe, Ill, homeowners and lawn care professionals can learn how to create and care for lawns and landscapes using organic methods.

Friday, March 30 will be devoted to a full day of sessions for landscaping professionals, introducing and discussing natural lawncare practices. Professionals will learn how golf courses such as Torrey Pines in San Diego and The Vineyards in Martha’s Vineyard incorporate natural lawn care into their maintenance. The Vineyards is America’s only truly organic golf course.

Satuday, March 31, homeowners and gardeners can participate in discussions throughout the morning about organic lawn and garden care, insects and invasive species, and other topics. 

On both days, participants will hear from Paul Tukey, founding editor and publisher of People, Places & Plants magazine and author of The Organic Lawn Care Manual. Through public speaking, radio, television, print and the internet he shares his passion for organic gardening and lawn care. He is also the founder and spokesperson for SafeLawns.org.

For more information and to register, head to the Lawn & Landscape Summit website.

The summit is co-presented by the Lawn to Lake program, which is funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.