GRAND Learning Network


Michigan State University
Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies
147B Natural Resources Building
East Lansing, MI 48824
Ph. 517-432-0267


Shari L. Dann


GRAND Learning Network Promotion from Mark Stephens on Vimeo.

The GRAND Learning Network involves mid-Michigan K–12 students and their teachers in school-community partnerships that help them learn about the Grand River watershed region, build their skills and knowledge in science and social studies, and become active stewards of the Great Lakes. The network provides support for teachers, teacher-leaders, community volunteers, and participating classes of students. Materials from the Northwest Center for Sustainable Resources and strategies developed by the Rural School and Community Trust are used in tandem with data and information about the Grand River watershed to enhance existing curricula and provide for new learning experiences.

The Grand River watershed includes the Grand River headwaters and the river itself, which at 260 miles is Michigan’s longest. The watershed’s area is second in size only to that of the Saginaw River’s. This river system, particularly its headwaters and upper tributaries, is critically important for both Lake Michigan and the entire Great Lakes region. The upper Grand River watershed connects rural, upstream agricultural communities with sprawling suburban areas, industry-dotted urban zones, and Lake Michigan.

Local stewardship issues directly relate to the role residents play as inhabitants of communities, the Grand River watershed, and the Great Lakes region. Following are several signs we see of an emerging commitment to stewardship:

  • Working with their drain commissioners, residents are establishing rain gardens to reduce the impacts of runoff from impervious surfaces.
  • Regional planning efforts are helping to rebuild and diversify the economy while protecting the area’s agricultural heritage, natural areas, recreation spaces, and quality of life.
  • Environmental programs are reconnecting people to their rivers.
  • Sensitive ecosystems—such as bogs, lowland riparian forests, prairie remnants, and mature hardwood forests—are receiving increased attention, protection, and management.

This is fertile ground in which to work.