West Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative


Muskegon Area Intermediate School District
Regional Mathematics and Science Center (MRMSC)
1001 Wesley Ave.
Muskegon, MI 49442

Ph. 231-767-7317

Sara Coleman

Website: www.wmglsi.com

The West Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (WMGLSI) seeks to build valuable social capital through school-community partnerships that address important environmental issues. Through its work as a regional hub, the WMGLSI strengthens the skills and capacity of schools and communities to achieve academic and environmental stewardship goals. The hub provides sustained professional development for teachers, makes grants to schools, assists with stewardship projects, and facilitates school-community collaborations and public forums.

The region served by the WMGLSI consists of Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, and northern Ottawa counties, encompassing a little more than 1 million acres. The 22 public school districts in the region span the entire urban/rural and rich/poor continuums. The region features inland lakes, miles of rivers, and spectacular Lake Michigan shoreline. Over the next 20 years, the population of Muskegon County alone is expected to increase by more than 17 percent, with a rate of land consumption for urban development reaching nearly 5,000 acres per year. Most of this growth is focused on areas surrounding waterways and within dune ecosystems along the Lake Michigan shoreline. The WMGLSI’s region is drained by six major watersheds: Mona Lake, Muskegon Lake, Pentwater Lake, Spring Lake, White Lake, and the lower Grand River. The lakes and streams provide habitat for many species of warm- and cold-water fish. However, some populations of fish have declined due to increased water temperatures, silt and sedimentation, reduced water quality, and loss of habitat. Wildlife and other natural resources face similar pressures from urban encroachment.

People in this region have been working for the past 20 years to solve environmental problems. During the past three years, 23 public meetings have focused on environmental issues in this area. Many of the key organization/agency staff members who provide leadership for this work have agreed to partner with the WMGLSI. They and other community partners agree that the WMGLSI is a means to develop the next generation of environmental stewards, and they want to make sure that the collaborative, community-based projects supported by the WMGLSI relate directly to the region’s most important environmental priorities.