Here's an opportunity to enhance community resilience

By Molly Woloszyn, IISG Extension climate specialist

For an upcoming grant proposal, I am interested in partnering with a local community in the southern Lake Michigan region (Illinois or Indiana) to help the community become more resilient to weather or coastal hazards.

The Great Lakes Coastal Resilience Planning Guide shares eight case studies of communities in the Great Lakes region and their approach to enhance resilience to various hazards and planning for the future. These case studies could serve as an inspiration for possible ideas for this proposal, but do not encompass all possible project ideas. In fact, this proposal is looking to expand the number of case studies presented on this website.

If you would like to discuss the opportunity for your community to partner on this proposal, please email me at mollyw@illinois.edu. The partnering community would (ideally) provide a letter of support for the project. Please feel free to forward this to other communities you think may be interested as well.

This proposal is due very soon, so please reach out to me as soon as possible - preferably by July 2nd.


Friday Foto: Be Current Smart and Steer Clear of the Pier

Are you current smart?

With summer upon us, we find ourselves and our families visiting the beach more often, whether it's just down the street from where we live, or a destination spot for our latest vacation.

As you pack your beach towels and blankets, snacks and life vests, remember to be aware of your surroundings, and to heed any warnings or indications of beach conditions during your time there. Rip currents can occur at any time, and the Great Lakes are not immune from their presence.

Over the last few years, there have been more than 80 incidents involving rip currents (fatalities and rescues) on the Great Lakes, with most of these happening in Lake Michigan.

It might not always be obvious where rip currents will appear, but the same cannot be said for a "structural current" (usually occurring around piers or breakwalls).

Today's tip to help you be #currentsmart is a reminder to "Steer Clear of the Pier". Please refrain from jumping off or swimming near these structures. Water safety is a responsibility we all share.

To educate yourself more about rip currents on the Great Lakes, please check out dangerouscurrents.org. And if you'd like to share tips with your friends and loved ones? Check out currentsmart.org for easy-to-understand (and share!) animations and social media tools!

Have a safe and happy summer, and remember to be current smart!


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Dreams can come true aboard the Lake Guardian

It may sound cheesy, but it’s always my dream and goal in life to make a difference in the world and to help others. I always thought this would be something I would have to do outside of my career, however, being an outreach intern for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant allows me to integrate part of this dream into my career.

This coming fall I will be going into my senior year at the University of Illinois. I am majoring in advertising and minoring in both communication and sociology as well as receiving my certification in public relations. In addition, I am part of the James Scholar Program in the College of Media at U of I.

As an intern, I assist with outreach efforts associated with R/V Lake Guardian to increase awareness of the Lake Guardian mission and the research conducted on the ship. My specific duties entail developing a brochure about the ship, assisting with the Lake Guardian Dispatch blog, maintaining and reorganizing the Lake Guardian website, assisting with daily social media efforts, and assisting with a kiosk design for the ship. This past week (June 15-18) I was given the opportunity to climb aboard the Lake Guardian where I was able to develop a full understanding of the vessel along with assist with ongoing sampling, and conduct outreach efforts while on the ship. 

Robert Browning once said, “Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” This past week definitely exceeded my own grasp. My experience on Lake Guardian was a completely new experience for me and I admit that I was a little nervous going into it. After being on board for just a few hours, I was quickly reminded of how rewarding it is to take on a new experience. It truly makes you grow as a person and appreciate new things in life. A typical day for me consisted of photography and videography, live-tweeting, late night blog posting, and assisting with ongoing sampling throughout the day. The work days were long, but seemed to go by quickly. So did my time on the ship, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Our overall trip mission was to collect water, plankton, and benthic invertebrates for organic chemical analysis. This survey is known as the “Great Lakes Fish and Monitoring Surveillance Program: Pushing the Science (Clarkson University)” and assesses how contaminants cycle throughout the food web in Lake Michigan. The vessel consisted of a team of crew members (marine technicians, seamen, engineers, the captain and mates) as well as members from Clarkson University, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Oswego, NOAA, U.S. EPA GLNPO, and IISG.

The trip was most definitely the experience of a lifetime. I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience the Lake Guardian hands-on and to help keep the Great Lakes clean for all through this internship.


IISG has a new face behind the social media screen

Erin Knowles, a familiar face at IISG, has started a new role as a communication specialist. Her efforts will be focused on overseeing social media and digital strategy for the organization as a whole. Up until recently, she was the media specialist on the pollution prevention team.

Erin also brings a wealth of experience as a freelance writer and photographer to the social media position. She received a Master’s degree in public health from Boston University.

Be sure to follow, like, tweet, share, tag, post, link, pin, ping, poke, and visit everywhere we are! See the icons below.


Friday foto: Flooding workshops timed just right

This was a week of rain - McKinley Park in Chicago, as many other spots, was afloat. IISG has organized two upcoming workshops about ways to prevent or reduce flooding, including the use of green infrastructure. Local decision makers will meet next week in northwest Indiana,  and in Chicago in early July.


IISG wins two Apex Awards of Excellence

We are happy to announce that APEX 2015 bestowed the Award of Excellence to two IISG projects.

Anjanette Riley, Erin Knowles, and Joel Davenport received a “Social Media – Special Purpose” prize for iamIISG, an undertaking that involved 33 employees throughout all of IISG’s locations. Program staffers were interviewed and photographed to provide insight into who we are for a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter.

The other honor, “Electronic Media – Green,” went to Kristin TePas, Allison Neubauer, and Jason Brown for a video series that took a behind-the-scenes look at marine careers. The nine videos – viewed over 1,000 times – explored the professions of individuals aboard the U.S. EPA research vessel, the Lake Guardian.


IISG welcomes a new communicator aboard

Abigail Bobrow joins Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant as a communication specialist. Abby will write about program news, research projects, and activities on the blog, through publications, and on websites.

Previously, Abigail was a part of the communication group at the University of Illinois Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Initiative (IHSI). There she wrote, photographed, and designed for the Cancer Community@Illinois, a program of IHSI.

Abigail has an extensive background in journalism, having worked at several newspapers throughout the Midwest. She received a dual Bachelor’s degree in geography and studio art from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts.


For a future pharmacist, pollution prevention is key

By Anne Packard (Anne is a summer intern working with Laura Kammin, IISG pollution prevention specialist)

Can pharmacists play a role in pollution control? This is the question I asked myself when I heard about an internship through Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. 

As a third year student at Purdue University College of Pharmacy, I became interested in this internship because of my love for the Great Lakes. I am a western Michigan native, so the freshwater lakes are dear to my heart. At a young age, I took advantage of all the benefits living close to Lake Michigan can provide. I have fond memories of sailing, watching the sunset, and building sand castles on the beach.

During the school year, being a pharmacy student feels like a 24 hour a day job. The amount of time spent studying and thinking about pharmacy related topics is quite demanding. I have to love what I study. The pollution prevention internship is a great way for me integrate two key facets of my life—my pharmaceutical knowledge and my love of the environment and the Great Lakes.
My role with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is to help with education in the community with regards to medication pollution and disposal. Another major aspect that ties in my pharmacy experience will be to educate people about the consequences for misuse, accidental poisonings and abuse of unused medication. I also am working with a Purdue College of Pharmacy professor to organize data to better understand the needs in the Lafayette area related to medication take back programs. 

Even in the few weeks since starting, my knowledge base on medication pollution has expanded substantially. By the end of this summer I hope to take the knowledge I have gained and apply it in my future career as a pharmacist. Through this experience I want to be knowledgeable about the resources available for proper medication disposal as well as tools to implement safe disposal practices wherever my career takes me. 

As with all student interns, there is always a dream of making a difference in the job they are in. Although, I do not expect to make groundbreaking changes, I hope I can help my community take a step in the right direction to minimize pharmaceutical pollution in the environment.