Inspiring exploration, appreciation, and conservation of our natural world.

2014 GTSI Summer Institute

The Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative (GTSI) hosted a Summer Institute for teachers on August 13 and 14th. Fifteen teachers, numerous community partners, and I gathered at the Grand Traverse Conservation District at the Boardman River Nature Center for inspiring presenters and educational activities to bring back to their schools and classrooms.

On Thursday, Nathan Ayers from Chiwara Permaculture shared photos and experience with permaculture concepts in urban areas around Michigan.

Chiwara soil at Nature center

After lunch, we examined and identified macro invertebrates in the Boardman River and were led in canoes by Steve Largent, the GTCD Boardman River Expert. The water was fast and cold, due to the springs that feed the river and the dam that was removed last year. Air temperatures were perfect, the sky was clear, and the paddle was excellent! We learned about the dam removal and the process of restoring the river to its original location.



Upon return to the nature center, Inland Seas Americorps Member Lindsey Hartrey led a water chemistry activity comparing the river samples we brought back to some samples she had collected from Lake Michigan. She also shared other lake samples of organisms and sediment.

Jessica Vitale from Blackbird Arts was our last presenter of the day, sharing hand-made nature journals and leading us in honing our observation skills and practicing nature drawing using watercolor pencils. We completed the day with some planning and sharing a meal together.

The second day of the Summer Institute included a presentation by Cyndie Bobier from the GT Butterfly Museum and Bug Zoo. She introduced us to a few of her specimens, including Charlie, the molting cockroach! Her lively presentation had us all excited about insects.

We concluded the institute with a grant writing workshop presented by GTCD’s Wendy Warren, and school and teacher planning time for place-based education projects at their schools. Thanks to everyone for making the 2014 Summer Institute a great success!  – Kristen Grote, GTSI Program Coordinator