Since way back in May 2005, The Stewardship Network has hosted monthly webcasts designed to provide important information for nature’s caretakers in an accessible and thought-provoking way. These engaging sessions feature presenters who are leaders in their field and an online audience from across North America, provoking a dynamic dialogue that has become a hallmark of this TSN program. If you care about natural areas and engage in stewarding lands and waters, please plan to join us on the second Wednesday of every month. Read on to see what’s next or revisit a session from the recent past with on-demand video recordings.
Wednesday, December 14th, 2022 @ 12pm ET (11am CT, 10am MT, 9am PT)
December 2022 | Economy & Availability of Native Plant Production
w/ guest Bill Schneider (Founder, Wildtype)
Call for native plants increases year after year, but can supply meet this surging demand? There are many horticultural considerations that affect the supply of native species and seed but there are also economic realities at play. Join us for a discussion with one of our region’s prominent native plant producers to talk about supply shortages both real and imagined.
Bill Schneider began Wildtype Native Plants • Ecological Services, in 1996. Located in Mason Michigan, Wildtype operates a nursery growing over 300 species of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, grasses and emergent wetland plants. They also provide ecological services for public, commercial, and residential projects focusing on restoration and preservation of native landscape.
(click the titles below to access episode recordings)
w/ guest Lisa Maria Rodriguez (Curator of Parks and Green Spaces, Urban Neighborhood Initiatives) plus UNI staff members Mariah Bosquez (Director of Land Use and Creative Placemaking) and Danielle Dillard (College and Career Pathways Coordinator)
With a waning tax base and declining population, the City of Detroit has been struggling to oversee vacant lots, pursue absentee landowners, or investigate illegal dumping. In response, the Springwells neighborhood created a program to address dangerous land vacancy and create long term solutions that heal their land and create vital green spaces.
Join our guests from The Land Stewardship Initiative of Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (UNI) to learn how they address local issues alongside residents and local youth, transforming vacant spaces into vital spaces that strengthen habitats, mitigate stormwater, and promote community bonding.
A first-generation high school and college graduate, Lisa Rodriguez graduated from Wayne State University with honors and holds three degrees in Fine Arts. She started at UNI as a volunteer and went on to expand the organization’s blight elimination efforts by creating their Land Stewardship Initiative, identifying and stewarding vacant lots, green spaces, and parks while collaborating with residents and volunteers. Lisa enjoys long walks in the forest and the shoreline with her beautiful German Shepherd, Koolie.
w/ guest Annie Burke (Executive Director, TOGETHER Bay Area)
It’s easy to feel discouraged these days, but California’s 30×30 initiative, with its goal of conserving 30 percent of state lands and coastal waters by 2030, offers an important ray of hope. Join us for a conversation with Annie Burke, executive director of TOGETHER Bay Area, to talk about optimism, agency, and action. The 30×30 Partnership Coordination Committee (led by the CA Natural Resource Agency) is one way that the initiative is coordinating local actions for state-wide impact and Annie is a member. We’ll talk about what 30×30 is and isn’t, how the State of California is approaching this big goal, and how on-the-ground conservation organizations are contributing to its success. We’ll also discuss the role of stewardship, so we hope to see you there.
Annie serves as the executive director of TOGETHER Bay Area, a regional coalition of nonprofits, Tribes/Indigenous-led groups, and public agencies all collaborating for climate resilience and equity. She led the reimagination of the Bay Area Open Space Council in 2018-2019 which resulted in the focused and inclusive coalition that TOGETHER Bay Area is today. Previously she worked for large and small nonprofits in various fundraising, strategy, and organizational development capacities. She has produced films about partnerships between Indigenous Tribes and conservation organizations, the most recent being Umunhum. Annie has a masters in Organization Development from University of San Francisco and a B.A. in psychology from Denison University. She completed two National Outdoor Leadership School courses, and she volunteers on the East Bay Regional Park District’s park advisory committee.
September 2022 | Outside the Box: Creating unique stewardship opportunities to spread your mission and passion farther
w/ guests Nicole Ferguson (Park Naturalist) and Courtney Prout (Environmental Education Outreach Coordinator) from Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission, For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum
For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum is part of the Genesee County Parks & Recreation and has the privilege of leading the stewardship efforts for the park system. In a world of “Full Schedules” and digital distractions, For-Mar has found that through outside-of-the-box thinking, creative partnerships and having a YES attitude, we are able to create unconventional stewardship opportunities for people of all ages and abilities in our community to make genuine connections to the natural world. During this session we will explore some of For-Mar’s non-traditional stewardship efforts including unique partnerships, citizen science connections, connections to local muralists, adventure labs, comic books and yes even Tree Houses that set For-Mar apart from other Nature Center stewardship experiences! Then join us as we brainstorm stewardship program connections together to draw in new audiences to your public spaces. This session will have interactive components for sharing stewardship ideas!
Nicole Ferguson has been part of the For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum team with the Genesee County Parks and Recreation since 2012. She is responsible for the daily operations, property development and educational initiatives that take place at For-Mar Nature Preserve. Mrs. Ferguson helps coordinate the development and implementation of educational programming. Her efforts have taken staff knowledge into local schools and community events reaching thousands of children and families. Nicole prides herself on building partnerships within her community in order to create unique educational experiences that bring people together in their parks. Nicole has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology and Zoology from Michigan State University and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Michigan-Flint. Before starting her position with the Genesee County Parks, she spent time as an Environmental Educator in several different areas throughout Michigan including The Kalamazoo Nature Center, Woldumar Nature Center and The Ligon Outdoor Center.
Courtney Prout has an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science from Baker College-Flint, and 5 years as a naturalist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Explorer Guide Program, as well as 2 years as a seasonal park naturalist at the Genesee County Parks’ For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum. In 2017, Courtney transitioned into the role of Environmental Education Outreach Coordinator for the Genesee County Parks and is now responsible for bringing outdoor education to the community. In 2022 Courtney studied to become a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association of Interpretation. Courtney says “I am most at home when connecting people to nature within the parks or when venturing out into the community.”
w/ guest Ian Ableson (Stewardship Manager, Six Rivers Land Conservancy)
Bats have long been excluded from species data collection, in part because they’re so difficult to find and study. Using modern echometer technology, we can now identify species of bats relatively easily and cheaply with zero impact on the bats themselves, and start adding bats to our species lists, baseline reports, and grant applications. Additionally, the changing public perceptions of bats and increased awareness of their ecological importance make them wonderful subjects of community engagement events. We’ll chat about the general ecology of bats in Michigan, ongoing partnerships actively studying bat populations, and specific monitoring methodology.
Ian Ableson is the Stewardship Manager for Six Rivers Land Conservancy in Southeast Michigan, and he has carried an enthusiasm for bats with him wherever he goes. Prior to his work for Six Rivers, Ian worked for the Organization for Bat Conservation as an Education Specialist, where he spent most of his time presenting with live bats at schools, nature centers, and libraries throughout the state (and occasionally beyond). He holds a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from University of Michigan.
w/ guest Ricky Ackerman (Director of Climate Equity, Eastside Community Network), in conversation with Erin Stanley, Bethany Howard, Loretta Powell, and Tammara Howard.
ECN will be highlighting the LEAP Sustainability Fellowship program that builds resident capacity to steward open space in their neighborhoods. We work with resident leaders who have been taking care of and cultivating open spaces in their communities for a long time. ECN staff will provide context regarding land issues in Detroit as well as the fellowship and residents will join us to talk about the projects they are leading in their communities. We will also discuss how our work elevating resident voices and building leadership capacity in our communities fits within our broader organizational goals of increasing climate resilience and advocating for equitable climate solutions.
Ricky has been working at Eastside Community Network since February 2018 and currently serves as the Director of Climate Equity. While at ECN, Ricky has worked to engage residents around green stormwater infrastructure, air quality issues, resilience hubs, and other climate change-related topics. Prior to starting at ECN, he received his masters in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Today’s ecological restorationists may believe that things have always been the way they are now, with wide acceptance of practices like stewardship workdays, prescribed fire, or dabbing herbicide on cut stumps, but it hasn’t always been so. Join us for reflections on the past 30 years of ecological restoration through the eyes of two recently retired, long-time practitioners who were also instrumental in the formation of The Stewardship Network.
Bob Grese retired as the Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum after 34 years at the University of Michigan. Dave Borneman retired in February, 2022 after 28 years as the Natural Area Preservation Manager for the City of Ann Arbor. Bob and Dave helped launch a series of “Stewardship Field Days” back in the mid-1990s as a way to share ideas and experiences with fellow restorationists and that effort eventually led to the creation of TSN! Join us for an hour of reminiscing, story-telling, and maybe even gazing into a crystal ball to look into the future of ecological restoration.
May 2022: The Michigan Herp HAT and MI Herp Atlas: Conservation Tools and Resources for the Protection and Management of Amphibians and Reptiles
w/ guest David A. Mifsud
Amphibians and reptiles (collectively regionally referred to as herpetofauna) are recognized key indicators of environmental health, this makes them ideal candidates for incorporation into a wetland functional assessment tool. Incorporating a system that considers reptile and amphibian communities would provide a stronger holistic approach to quantifying wetland value and function. This presentation will focus on the development of Michigan’s Herpetofauna Habitat Assessment Tool (Herp HAT) and the applications of this novel and important assessment tool for protecting landscapes and species. We will also discuss the role and important of the Michigan Herpetological Atlas and the role this program plays in conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles and its importance to Herp HAT.
Read more about David below:
David A. Mifsud is the senior herpetologist and owner of Herpetological Resource and Management, a conservation company dedicated to the protection and stewardship of amphibians and reptiles. He holds multiple certifications including Professional Wetland Scientist by the Society of Wetland Scientists, Professional Ecologist by the Ecological Society of America, and Professional Wildlife Biologist through The Wildlife Society. He has worked for over 20 years in wildlife biology, wetland ecology, and habitat conservation and management, with an emphasis on herpetofauna. He has conducted research, assessments, and habitat restoration targeting amphibians and reptiles across Michigan. He has written or co-authored several publications and technical reports on Michigan herpetofauna. David is Co-chair of the State of Michigan Amphibian and Reptile Technical Advisory board. He also coordinates the Michigan Herpetological Atlas project. He has conducted numerous training workshops focused on the identification, conservation and best management of amphibians and reptiles in Michigan. He serves as an expert on Great Lakes turtles for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group with focus on Great Lakes and African chelonians. Mifsud is the author of the Amphibian & Reptile Best Management Practices for Michigan and co-author of the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region Revised Edition. He is also the founder and President of the newly formed Michigan Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy.
April 2022: The meadowlark conundrum: Why don’t many prairie restorations support declining grassland birds?
+ Spring Challenge Kick-Off!
w/ guests Sharon Gill, Joanna Sblendorio, and Mitch Lettow
Grassland birds are the habitat group in steepest decline across the U.S. and Canada, and we’ve witnessed a 40% decline within less than one human lifetime. At the same time, prairie restorations are on the rise with more commercially available information, seed, funding, and projects than ever. So how can we be more effective in helping stem the loss of these charismatic birds with our well-intentioned restorations? And if these methods aren’t working, what will? In this session, we’ll take a deep dive into the thatch – What are the needs of some of our most vulnerable grassland bird species? How might we incorporate these needs into our conservation actions? We’ll also provide an example of how the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and Western Michigan University partnered to create a volunteer grassland bird monitoring program that could be used as a template for others involved in grassland bird conservation.
w/ guest Yakuta Poonawalla
We’re all asking the same question: How do we create stewardship programs that are intentional, inclusive and culturally relevant? The definition of stewardship and conversations about taking care of our lands are being re-framed and re-envisioned. I invite you to join me in an interactive webcast presentation where I hope to share my journey of challenging the status quo, feeling accepted, and becoming an integral part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy’s Stewardship and Engagement Program. Through examples, I hope to share creative approaches we’ve used to design and build habitat restoration programs that create a sense of community and belonging. I hope that participants will walk away with ideas and tools to create new ways of engaging communities in stewardship, and inspiration to challenge the stewardship narrative.”
w/ guest Mike Kost
In fire-dependent oak ecosystems throughout the eastern United States, recruitment of oak saplings to the forest canopy is poor. Although current overstory composition in dry and dry-mesic forests is dominated by white oak (Quercus alba) and black oak (Quercus velutina), the understory of these forests is often dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum). This successional trajectory towards mesophytic dominance has significant negative consequences for wildlife, as faunal diversity is dependent on oak acorns and leaves, and the physical structures provided by oak trees, snags, coarse woody debris, wood cavities, and litter. To investigate the factors that contribute to successful oak regeneration, we conducted vegetation and soil sampling in 105 oaks forests stratified by ecoregion, glacial landform, and management history across the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Join us to learn where oak regeneration is succeeding and failing and what factors contribute to successful oak regeneration.
Read more about Mike below:
Mike Kost serves as Associate Curator at University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum and as a Lecturer in the School for Environment and Sustainability, where he teaches a course on ecology and botany entitled Herbaceous Flora and Ecosystems. As a curator he focuses on making data on the living collections at Matthaei-Nichols accessible for teaching, learning, and research. Before joining U-M, he served as the Lead Ecologist and a Senior Conservation Scientist with Michigan Natural Features Inventory at Michigan State University Extension, where he focused on documenting and describing the natural communities of Michigan and working with natural resource agencies on identifying key sites for biodiversity conservation and management. In this role, he coauthored over 80 publications, including the books “A Field Guide to the Natural Communities of Michigan”; “Prairies and Savannas in Michigan”; and “Exploring the Prairie Fens Wetlands of Michigan”. In this webinar, Mike will be describing the findings from a three-year research project on oak regeneration in Lower Michigan that he conducted with Jeff Lee while at Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
w/ guests Lars Brudvig and Frank Telewski
(Michigan State University Department of Plant Biology and the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden)
“In the fall of 1879, Professor William James Beal started what is now the longest continuously monitored experiment in the world. He wanted to know how long seeds can remain alive in the soil and able to germinate when exposed to favorable conditions. Knowing this answer is important for weed management in farm fields, rare plant conservation, management of invasive species, and other important topics in conservation, restoration, and agriculture. To answer the question, Beal buried 20 bottles containing sandy soil and seeds of 21 plant species common in mid-Michigan, at a secret location on MSU’s campus. Periodically, a bottle is unearthed under the cover of darkness and a germination trial run on the contents, to determine the number of viable seeds remaining for each species. The most recent bottle (year 141) was unearthed by a team of MSU plant biologists in March 2021 and the germination trial has now been completed. Join team members Brudvig and Telewski to hear about this experiment’s history and results of the year 141 trial.”
Read more on the presenters below:
Lars Brudvig a Professor in the Department of Plant Biology and the Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior at Michigan State University. His research focuses on the ecology of tallgrass prairies, oak savannas, and longleaf pine woodlands, with a particular emphasis on understanding how to restore these ecosystems, after they have been degraded by humans. Much of his work revolves around plants, though he also works on plant-animal interactions including pollination and pollinator responses to restoration. Brudvig teaches courses in biology, field natural history/botany, and restoration ecology at Michigan State University. Prior to joining the MSU faculty in 2010, Brudvig was a Postdoctoral Associate at Washington University in St. Louis. He completed a Ph.D. at Iowa State University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and a B.A. at Carleton College (MN) in Biology.
Frank Telewski is Director Emeritus of the W.J. Beal Botanical Garden and Campus Arboretum, and professor emeritus in the Department of Plant Biology. His research interests center on environmental plant physiology and plant development with a special interest in tree responses to mechanical loads such as wind, ice and snow. He also has conducted research on tree growth in response to environment using tree rings (dendrochronology). He has taught courses in Environmental Plant Physiology, Plant Structure and Function, and Economic Botany. Since 2000, Frank has served as the lead scientist on the W.J. Beal Long-term Seed Germination Study. Prior to arriving at MSU in 1993, he served as the Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Garden and Adjunct Associate Professor at Buffalo State University and SUNY Buffalo. Prior to Buffalo, Dr. Telewski was an Assistant Professor in the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research, University of Arizona. He earned his Ph.D. from Wake Forest University in Tree Physiology, an M.S. from Ohio University in Botany, and a B.A. from Montclair State College (NJ)in Biology and Chemistry.
w/ guest Cassandra Ferrera
“There are massive land transitions that are now at play. How does our language, our role, and our understanding of relationships need to change to reflect the shifting values in a world trying to get beyond the commodification of land? Join real estate agent, Cassandra Ferrera, in an exploration of an alternative to current real estate conventions that put the land, stewardship, justice and liberation at the center of land transitions vs. the bottom line. Cassandra and her colleagues are creating a new organization to serve ethical land transitions that are able to interface with the modern real estate industry.”
Learn more about Cassandra below:
Cassandra’s dynamic real estate career and community activism has focused on the edge of cultural innovation where cooperation meets land stewardship. She has provided agency, complex contract design, consulting and cooperative governance support to dozens of mission driven communities and land projects. A licensed real estate agent in California since 2003, Cassandra works with the progressive Green Key Real Estate brokerage in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a founding board member of CommonSpace Community Land Trust and a multiple term board member of the Foundation for Intentional Community, Cassandra serves as organizational steward and movement strategist. Along with her collaborators, Cassandra is birthing Land Bridge, a non-profit organization dedicated to ethical land transitions rooted in land liberation, relationship repair, social justice, and cooperation. Cassandra has personally lived in land based community projects since 2006 and is prayerfully dedicated to the sacred relationship between humans and earth.
November 2021: “Stories from the Understory and Overstory: Lessons learned about restoration from our Plant Partners”
w/ guest Mitch Lettow, Stewardship Director, Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy
“Ecological restoration is a young science, and every place we transform habitat through stewardship is a place to learn lessons about those ecosystems. Those lessons don’t always come in the form of text books or technical academic literature, but through careful observation of nature’s response to our efforts. For those willing to take the time to observe these efforts, plants are by far our most reliable communicators of this useful information. Learn about just a handful of these valuable lessons we have been taught at the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy in our crusade to restore ecosystems – all of course, taught by plants.”
Learn more about Mitch Lettow below:
“Mitch grew up on Pickerel Lake in Scotts, Michigan, where his time spent in the backyard and the water, with encouragement from his family, nurtured his fascination in nature. This fascination matured into a pursuit of a career in the field of ecology where he worked in both research and restoration for the Kalamazoo Nature Center, Michigan Wildflower Farm, Michigan State University, and the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. At MSU Mitch received his B.S. in 2009 and his M.S. in 2013 in Environmental Biology/Zoology and Entomology, respectively. Being interested in diverse aspects of the natural world, like ornithology and botany, the emerging field of Restoration Ecology was an appealing way to roll all of these interests into one. This allowed Mitch to get his hands dirty while making a satisfying and tangible difference for the natural communities he had come to love that face an increasing amount of environmental degradation. He was thrilled to come back to SWMLC’s Stewardship Program in July 2013. Mitch looks forward to restoring natural processes and biodiversity on the Conservancy’s many preserves, as well as learning from and working with many volunteers and community members who are critical to long-term stewardship and conservation. Mitch lives in Kalamazoo, where he can be found doing anything that gets him into the out-of-doors.”
w/ guests Dan Kennedy (Endangered Species Coordinator – Michigan DNR, Wildlife Division), John Kanter (Senior Wildlife Biologist), and Brielle Jaglowski (Conservation Science Fellow – National Wildlife Federation)
The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (HR3742, S2372) would dedicate $1.3 billion for state-led conservation efforts and $97.5 million to Tribal nations to recover and sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations. If passed, this would be the most significant new investment in wildlife conservation in more than a generation. This groundbreaking legislation will help ensure that future generations can enjoy the same abundant fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities that we have today. John and Dan will give an overview of this important legislation and provide suggestions on how to help support the national campaign.
Read the presenter bios below:
Dan Kennedy (Endangered Species Coordinator – Michigan DNR, Wildlife Division)
Dan is the Endangered Species Coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and is responsible for the administration and coordination of the DNR’s endangered species program. Dan enjoys collaborating with a variety of organizations and people to find creative solutions to conserve Michigan’s unique wildlife resources. Dan has a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and Master of Science degree from Southern Illinois University. In his spare time, Dan loves to float down a river in his kayak fishing for anything that will bite his lure.
John Kanter (Senior Wildlife Biologist – National Wildlife Federation)
John Kanter holds a BS in Wildlife Management from Ohio State University and an MS in Wildlife Ecology from the University of New Hampshire. For 24 years John worked at New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, first as the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Species Biologist and more recently as the Supervisor of the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. John has worked with an array of wildlife species, including songbirds and shorebirds, salamanders and snakes, marten and lynx, butterflies and freshwater mussels.
John became National Wildlife Federation’s senior wildlife biologist in August of 2017. He provides support and leadership to national and regional staff and state affiliates on priority fish and wildlife management and conservation issues.
John and his family enjoy time in the outdoors together whether they are hiking, birding, fishing, or paddling.
Brielle Jaglowski (Conservation Science Fellow – National Wildlife Federation)
Brielle is the Conservation Science Fellow for National Wildlife Federation. She supports NWF projects on wildlife conservation and upholds NWF’s goal of providing scientifically accurate materials to the public. Brielle has helped advance Recovering America’s Wildlife Act by aiding in the development of outreach and advocacy materials. Brielle holds a B.S. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Notre Dame, during which time she spent her summers performing wildlife research in the field. Brielle is from and currently lives in Grand Rapids, MI and enjoys hiking and painting wildlife in her spare time.
w/ guest Sarah Gilmore (Michigan Avian Experience)
Birds of prey capture people’s fascination. How can you invite them to your park or natural area? We’ll look at small-cost management practices in natural areas can create an inviting habitat for these aerial predators – and the birders who cannot get enough of them.
Read Sarah’s bio below:
Sarah has always called Michigan home. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan with a concentration in environmental education. Sarah has been teaching and working directly with birds of prey for a decade and having more fun on the job than ever thought possible. She is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation and in 2015 was awarded the Region 4 “Outstanding New Interpreter Award” through the same organization. When not working with raptors, she is also the Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Tecumseh in Michigan managing programs and more than 360 acres of public parks.
w/ guest Dr. Kyle Whyte
George Willis Pack Professor, University of Michigan
“Indigenous peoples are among the populations in the U.S. who are increasingly calling for equity and justice in the energy transition to renewable energy. Major policy initiatives, proposed for legislation and adopted by the White House, are seeking to mobilize research to support Indigenous energy goals. The presentation covers research and best practices relating to ethics, justice, and partnership for the collaborations that are needed to ensure Indigenous peoples are among the leaders of the energy transition.”
Read Dr. Whyte’s bio below:
Dr. Whyte is George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan, teaching in the environmental justice specialization. His research addresses environmental justice, focusing on moral and political issues concerning climate policy and Indigenous peoples, the ethics of cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples and science organizations, and problems of Indigenous justice in public and academic discussions of food sovereignty, environmental justice, and the anthropocene. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.
Kyle currently serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, the Management Committee of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, and the Board of Directors of the Pesticide Action Network North America. He has served as an author for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, including authorship on the 4th National Climate Assessment. He is a former member of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science in the U.S. Department of Interior and of two environmental justice work groups convened by past state governors of Michigan.
w/ guest Steven I. Apfelbaum, M.S.
[Senior Ecologist and Science Advisor, Resource Environmental Solutions (RES) / Founder, Applied Ecological Services (AES)]
“Grassland restoration, specifically soil carbon management, has a multitude of benefits. Methods of soil carbon management in grassland ecosystems can be used to address climate mitigation, regrow water supplies, reduce flooding, enhance biodiversity, and even help manage invasive plants.
Steven Apfelbaum, M.S., Senior Ecologist and Science Advisor at Resource Environmental Solutions, will give us an update and overview of his work in grassland restoration and soil carbon management, expanding upon a presentation that he and others gave at the White House during the Obama administration. Citing his personal and professional experiences on the subject over many years, Steve will connect his research and findings to the broader themes within stewardship and management, sharing insights that will help inform the work of researchers, practitioners, and stewards of all kinds.”
Steve Apfelbaum, the founder of Applied Ecological Services in Brodhead, WI, has been a full-time research and consulting ecologist with AES since 1978 when he founded the company and in 2021, merged with Resource Environmental Solutions (RES). Steve has conducted ecological research projects in most biomes of North America, and since the early 1980s he has been one of the leading consultants in the U.S. in ecological restoration programs. Apfelbaum is trained as an animal and plant ecologist with graduate studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he earned his MS Degree in Ecological and Biological Sciences in 1978. He has been a scientist in hundreds of field ecological projects and data analysis projects. During his career, Mr. Apfelbaum has authored or co-authored hundreds of technical studies, reports, ecological program plans, restoration plans, and monitoring and compliance reports for research projects and for regulatory program reporting. In recent years, his focus has been in soil carbon research and directing large soil carbon projects in Canada, Palouse Region and throughout the country. He has worked closely with hydrologists to understand landscape-scale hydrologic changes associated with land settlement in the Midwestern U.S. This work has direct application to many millions of acres in North America and elsewhere. Mr. Apfelbaum has also presented results of his study of ecological restoration at hundreds of seminars and courses around the world and is a much sought-after speaker at educational events focusing on soil carbon, regenerative agriculture, ecological restoration, alternative storm water management and conservation development. Apfelbaum’s latest book, “Restoring Ecological Health to Your Land” (Island Press) and his personal account of thirty years of restoring their Wisconsin farm, in “Natures Second Chance” (Beacon press) have received a range of awards, including rave reviews in the New York Times and elsewhere. The later book has been recognized as one of the top ten environmental books of 2009 and best books for people to personally learn about what they can do to address climate change. Apfelbaum teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Design a course on the future of coastal systems and regenerative agriculture and holds adjunct professorships and lectureships at several other universities.
w/ guests Chloe Hernandez and Allison Krueger
“One of the biggest conundrums any land manager / property owner / community faces is how to respond to the early detection of an aggressive invasive species. Three years into this topic, partners from the Washtenaw Stiltgrass Working Group will present on the work and results since undertaking an ‘early detection and rapid response’ strategy in the first documented outbreak of Stiltgrass in Michigan. Learn how the community of conservation partners and private property owners quickly banded together and rather than wait for this species to invade their property worked quickly, strategically and in coordinated fashion. Most organizations and individuals were already part of The Stewardship Network Huron-Arbor Cluster which allowed for the capacity of an immediate control effort. Three years later we present on the results and ongoing efforts to contain the highly invasive and destructive stiltgrass from escaping further into Michigan’s natural communities.”
Chloe Hernandez is the Stiltgrass Coordinator for the Washtenaw Stiltgrass Working Group. She graduated from Eastern Michigan University’s Environmental Science and Biology program in December and has since been helping plan for the upcoming stiltgrass season alongside the Stiltgrass Working Group partners. She is responsible for coordinating treatment, community outreach, and spreading awareness about the threat of stiltgrass. By creating relationships with landowners in stiltgrass-invaded areas, the Stiltgrass Working Group has helped empower the community to become involved in local conservation efforts.
Allison Krueger is the Stewardship Manager for Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. Her work prioritizes utilizing current scientific research and sustainable practices to develop strategic plans, designs, and land management activities across a portfolio of landscapes that includes over 6000 acres. She has a Bachelors of Science in Botany and a Masters of Landscape Architecture. Allison has been working in the field of ecological restoration for over 10 years, previously on projects along the Detroit River. Allison is also the Vice Chair of the Washtenaw County Brownfield Authority.
For our May 2021 Webcast, we present to you a recorded session from the Collaborating Well Track at Reimagining Connections: The Stewardship Network Conference 2021:
Facilitating It All: Tools and Skills for Convenors and Coordinators, Lisa Brush (The Stewardship Network), Shawn Johnson (University of Montana)
“Collaboration is a practice that includes a set of tools, techniques, and skills grounded in facilitation, coordination, and multi-party negotiation. This session will offer a glimpse into these tools and skills, focusing on how they help collaborative leaders build more informed, inclusive, transparent, and effective processes.”
The recording will be followed by a brief Q&A with Lisa Brush, one of the session presenters and Founder / CEO of The Stewardship Network.”
More about the Collaborating Well initiative:
“The Collaborating Well Initiative is focused on advancing collaborative approaches to landscape conservation and stewardship by developing curricula that can be delivered in a variety of ways to practitioners. Our goal is to build the scaffolding that can support the burgeoning landscape stewardship movement and increase partnership capacity at scale by enabling us to practice conservation in ways that are more inclusive, informed, and integrative.”
with guest Andrew Brenner, PhD
“When we look at the forest we generally see a grouping of trees with merged attributes, this has allowed us to manage forests for decades. However, forests are made up of individual units that are significant for both their individual value and their function within the ecosystem. This talk will discuss how new remote sensing technologies and analyses can be used to identify individual trees within the forest and how these data may be helpful to those managing forested ecosystems.”
Read Andrew’s bio below:
“Andrew Brenner directs Water and Natural Resource Management Programs for Quantum Spatial (NV5 Geospatial). He has worked on geospatial data analysis for over twenty five years. Andrew has worked on forest analyses and land cover mapping working closely with federal, state and commercial mapping programs. His focus is how to create information from imagery and lidar that can be integrated with GIS decision making systems. His background is in natural resources and he has a Ph.D. in Environmental Physics and Forestry, from Edinburgh University and an undergraduate in Agriculture from Reading University, UK.”
with guests Jackie Edinger, Jessica Einck, Sebastian Kasparian, and Lavran Pagano (University of Michigan)
“The need for more accessible and feasible ecosystem service assessments is critical to the future of land protection efforts. Uncoordinated development around urban areas is associated with the loss and fragmentation of rural open space, wildlife habitat, and wetlands, and the consequential decline in biodiversity. The City of Ann Arbor Greenbelt Program was developed in 2003 to preserve and protect open space, farmland, natural habitats, and the City’s source waters inside and outside the city limits. Now in its 17th year, the Greenbelt Program consists of over 6,100 acres of protected land on more than 65 parcels. While successful, the program lacks adequate ways to report impact and motivate support beyond acres preserved and funds leveraged.
The goal of our project is to develop two carbon storage geoprocessing tools, one for soil and another for aboveground biomass. Using a combination of existing data from the USDA, LiDAR remote sensing data, and a minimal amount of fieldwork, we have found that this is a feasible method for estimating carbon storage in these two areas.
We have applied both of our models to all properties currently protected in the Ann Arbor Greenbelt and have been able to provide the Greenbelt Program with the ability to assess and report on the ecosystem services of individual parcels and over the total acreage already protected as well as any additional properties added in the future. We hope that our methodology can serve as a blueprint for regional land conservancy organizations to effectively advocate for the importance of conservation easements.”
February 2021: “Coming of Age at the End of the World: An Existential Toolkit for the Climate Generation”
w/ guest Sarah Jaquette Ray
“A youth movement is reenergizing global environmental activism. The “climate generation”—late millennials and iGen, or Generation Z—is demanding that policy makers and government leaders take immediate action to address the dire outcomes predicted by climate science. Those inheriting our planet’s environmental problems expect to encounter challenges, but they may not have the skills to grapple with the feelings of powerlessness and despair that may arise when they confront this seemingly intractable situation. This talk is drawn from Dr. Ray’s 2020 book, A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet. Combining insights from psychology, sociology, social movements, mindfulness, and the environmental humanities, the book explains why and how the climate generation (and the rest of us) needs to let go of eco-guilt, resist burnout, and cultivate resilience while advocating for climate justice.”
Read Sarah’s bio below:
“Sarah Jaquette Ray has been Program Leader of the Environmental Studies Program at HSU since 2013. She received her PhD in Environmental Sciences, Studies, and Policy, with a focal department of English, at the University of Oregon in 2009. She holds a BA in Religious Studies (Swarthmore College) and a MA in American Studies (UT-Austin). Her first book, The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture (University of Arizona, 2013) explores the ways that environmental discourse often reinforces existing social hierarchies, drawing on a legacy of nativist, racial, and ableist exclusion in environmental history. Dr. Ray has edited three collections, including Critical Norths: Space, Nature, Theory (2017), Disability Studies & the Environmental Humanities: Toward an Eco-Crip Theory (2017), and Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial (2019). Her second book, a Field Guide to Climate Change: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet (California, 2020) is an existential toolkit for the climate generation.”
w/ guest Allison Catalano
How do you think about failure? How does your organization handle it? Failure or outcomes that are less than successful are not uncommon in conservation initiatives, yet we rarely discuss failure in systematic ways that make use of the learning opportunities failure presents. Here we will discuss alternate ways to think about failure and the individual and interpersonal dynamics that make it challenging. We’ll talk a bit about ideas we might useful adapt from other disciplines with longer histories of managing failure, such as aviation, medicine, and business. And we’ll talk about a few of the cognitive biases and group processes that get in the way of making difficult discussions productive.
Read Allison’s bio below:
Allison is pursuing a PhD in the Life Sciences Department of Imperial College and researches how conservation as a discipline learns from failure. She comes to this topic from a background that includes a BA in Environmental Geology from Bryn Mawr College, an MBA from Wharton Business School, experience as a consultant for Bain & Co. in London, as the US Embassy Community Liaison Officer in Ankara, Turkey, and as a US Naval Officer for 18 years. She has always been interested in leadership, learning, and how people work together in teams. She gets the greatest enjoyment from group discussions where ideas flow freely, connections are made, and people feel energized to keep making the world a better place.
w/ guest Mike Gora
“Michael Gora is the Middle Bass Island historian for the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society at Put-in-Bay, Ohio. A long-time summer resident of Middle Bass Island, he enjoys writing about local history and finding buried facts and stories. His most recent book, “Early Adventures at Put-in-Bay…” provides new evidence that the original Put-in-Bay harbor in the 18th century was probably today’s Burgundy Bay between Middle Bass and Sugar Islands.
Mr. Gora is a retired software executive and former software engineer who has also written 4 technical books and over 30 technical articles during a long career. He runs the Middle Bass Island web site at www.middlebass.org. When not on the islands, he lives in Hayesville, NC.”
w/ guests: Dylan Skybrook (Manager, Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network) and Kass Green (Kass Green and Associates)
“In this presentation will talk about the Santa Cruz Mountains Stewardship Network’s cutting-edge vegetation mapping project for the Santa Cruz Mountains region. The SCMSN is a collaborative of 23 organizations that own, manage, or in some way steward land in the Santa Cruz Mountains. High quality mapping will provide “big picture” data that will support collaboration across property lines and jurisdictions. The project will collect data in multiple ways, including lidar and ortho imagery, and provide many data products, including wildland fuels maps that will help California’s fire department, Cal Fire, prioritize areas for treatment to avoid catastrophic wildfire.”
Join us as TSN’s Rob Luzynski interviews Lisa Brush (Founder & CEO at The Stewardship Network) to discuss her life’s work in practicing and revolutionizing stewardship. Topics will include her wide array of personal and professional experiences, her journey in taking The Stewardship Network from an idea to the robust community that it is today, and how our collective vision and work are manifesting in the organization’s present and future.
Read more about Lisa’s bio below, and come ready to participate in an intimate and engaging conversation!
“Lisa Brush has been leading collaborative conservation initiatives in the environmental sector for over two decades. In her role as CEO and Founder of the award-winning Stewardship Network she has engaged thousands of professionals and volunteers in identifying community and conservation needs of the 21stcentury and determining strategic support The Network can provide. She has been involved in all aspects of organizational management including foundation/agency relationships; grant based project funding; budget tracking; contract negotiation, implementation, accountability; and staff and board development. Lisa has facilitated strategic planning sessions, focus groups, citizen task forces, community visioning sessions, and public involvement and feedback meetings with groups ranging in size from four to four hundred. Lisa serves on numerous boards of directors, has a BA in Science in Society from Wesleyan University, an MS from University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, and is a graduate of Michigan State University’s Great Lakes Leadership Academy.”
w/ guest Paco Ollervides, PhD (Executive Director, Green Leadership Trust)
“The purpose of this webinar is to assist leaders and organizations in their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusivity, and justice and apply this knowledge to their everyday decisions, programs and activities. Through structured engagement amongst participants, even those with divergent DEIJ points of view, I will ensure a transformative culture change for the attendees. I will walk attendees through the why of diversity considerations for their organizations; suggest a few mechanisms for the how to ensure diversity, equity, inclusion and justice; and chart next steps as we embark in a journey to continue building the DEIJ culture of these organizations.
Prior to the training, it is recommended that participants read the 2014 Green 2.0 report to be aware of the three primary handicaps for diversifying the environmental movement and be prepared to suggest opportunities to circumvent these obstacles in their own organization. Another recommended reading is this article by Deeohn Ferris. Tons of resources can be found at The DEIJ in Action guide commissioned by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.”
Francisco “Paco” Ollervides, PhD has worked directly with individual leaders and organizations in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice initiatives in the environmental sector for over 20 years. He assists strategic planning as well as conceptualizing, innovating, and driving forward initiatives that allow individuals to learn and act equitably and as stewards to our planet. His focus is on building the power of the environmental movement by facilitating opportunities for People of Color to excel in the sector through client and sponsor relationship management, customer satisfaction and retention, and staff management.
He leads the Green Leadership Trust as Executive Director. He leverages the knowledge, networks, and resources of People of Color and Indigenous people serving Boards of environmental organizations to build and diversify the environmental movement’s power. Prior (2013-2019) he acted as Leadership Development Manager and consultant in the Great Lakes region for River Network. Here he coordinated and provided organizational development services to dozens of Partner non profit organizations. From August 2006 – December 2010 he served as Senior Field Coordinator for Latin American programs within Waterkeeper Alliance. He connected, supported, and enhanced the activities of several dozens of non-profit member organizations.
He has trainings from the Watershed Coordinator Course from Ohio State University and served as lecturer to the Michigan Water Stewards program from Michigan State University. He was part of the Leading from Within Leadership course from Institute for Conservation Leaders and is a certified coach in Open Standards of Conservation from Conservation International. He is a Great Lakes Network Weaver and a National Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leaders Program. He received Racial Justice training from Race Forward; Civic Discourse training from Knoll Farm; Community Organizing and Family Issues Facilitation Training from the COFI Institute; Story telling for Social Change from Environmental Leaders Program; internal inclusivity training from Raben Group; completed the Arm in Arm 4 Climate Campaign and the BIPOC Climate Leadership Program.
He is a biochemical engineer and a bio-acoustician. His field work included assessing the impacts of boat noise on gray whale behavior. He holds both M.S and PhD degrees from the Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences Department at Texas A&M University.
w/ guest Michael Hahn
Our guest this month is Michael Hahn, Stewardship Specialist at the City of Ann Arbor – Natural Areas Preservation. Read his bio below:
“Mike Hahn grew up in the Chicago area and has been working in the ecological restoration field for the last 13 years. Five years ago he moved his family to Michigan to work for the City of Ann Arbor in the Natural Area Preservation program as a Stewardship Specialist. There he helps to coordinate stewardship activates throughout the 1200 acres of undeveloped city parkland. Prior to working for the City, he was employed by a land trust managing natural areas and coordinating volunteers. Mike and his wife have two fun-loving children. They enjoy their time together playing outside looking for mushrooms, fishing, hunting and working in their garden.”
This discussion-based presentation will be looking at the ecological benefits of native plants, especially in human-dominated landscapes where ecological function may be an afterthought, with a special emphasis on the design considerations that can ensure a long-lasting habitat. In addition, the presentation will include new developments in grading and drainage in the home native landscape!
Our guest this month is Mike Appel of Mike Appel Environmental Design, LLC. You can read the description of their work below:
“Our work is informed by hands-on stewardship in the natural communities of southern Michigan. From the designs we conceive to the landscapes we construct and maintain, our experience in the field inspires what we do. Our goal is to create and care for spaces in which our clients can cultivate their own personal connection to the outdoors.”
June 2020: Explorations in Virtual Stewardship
“As individuals and organizations continue to adapt to an ever-changing professional landscape, virtual programming has played an increasingly important role in continuing work that can no longer be done in-person. From FaceTime hikes to Zoom conferences and everything in between, we are all constantly learning and iterating upon best practices for bringing life to our online experiences.”
Our guests this month are Tina Stephens, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for City of Ann Arbor – Natural Area Preservation, as well as Armando Quintero, Executive Director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute at University of California – Merced.
Tina Stephens will begin with a discussion about her experience with hosting the recent “Garlic Mustard Weed Out Week” in coordination with The Stewardship Network’s Spring Invasive Species Challenge. We will follow with contributions from Armando Quintero, who will be sharing his experiences and insights as it relates to virtual events, fundraising, and collaboration. Lastly, we will have a presentation and discussion guided by our Network Administrator, Rob Luzynski, as he shares information regarding best practices in virtual conferencing, the challenges and opportunities associated with these new platforms, and how to engage with audiences in a meaningful and impactful way.
We hope that you will join us to share your thoughts and questions with us. As we prepare to host our first ever virtual edition of The Stewardship Network Conference in 2021, we are committed to being responsive to the needs and wants of our community to ensure that we can give our supporters the best experience possible.
May 2020: “The Work Continues: Insights on Adaptation”
As we all settle into new ways of living and working, individuals and organizations need to be flexible and innovative in the way that they engage with their supporters and collaborators. We will talk with environmental professionals about their approaches to adaptation in the face of the current societal context: What has stayed the same? What has changed? What will continue to evolve going forward? We encourage attendees to share their insights and ask questions in the chat, as well all contribute to enhance our collective understanding of the current situation and best practices for navigating new challenges and opportunities.
With special guests:
Jason Frenzel, Huron River Watershed Council: “Jason facilitates current and potential watershed stewards. Previously, he worked with the City of Ann Arbor’s Natural Area Preservation program for 10 years as its Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator. Jason holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University in “facilitating tree hugging.” He joined HRWC in 2011 and lives in the Traver Creekshed.”
Lori Seele, Duluth CISMA: Lori Seele is one of The Stewardship Network’s Collaborative Conservation Community Coordinators, leading the Duluth CISMA in Minnesota – “A Collaborative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) working to address the economical, ecological, & public safety impacts of terrestrial invasive plants in Southern St. Louis County.”
Yakuta Poonawalla, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy: “Yakuta Poonawalla was born and raised in India, and her love affair with the natural world began during her first trek in the Himalayas in 1999. Since that initiation, she has had the opportunity of working with various non-profits and social enterprises, both in India and the US to educate, inspire, and cultivate deep love and respect for the environment. Yakuta currently works for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy where she leads the San Francisco Park Stewardship Program and is developing creative programs that focus on inclusion, cultural relevance, and mindfulness. She is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at the Parks Conservancy, and is deeply involved in various initiatives across the park.”
April 2020: “Nature Connection in a Pandemic”
w/ guest Cayla Samano
An unexpected consequence of social distancing and public lock downs in the era of Covid-19 has been a noticeable increase in the number of people enjoying park and rec areas. In a world of increasing environmental instability, where viral pandemics like Covid-19 may become more frequent, how might our relationship with nature be forced to evolve? This presentation explores these questions from a forest therapy perspective, accompanied by original works of art and photography focusing on the future of the human/nature relationship.
Cayla is a forest therapy guide and former art teacher. She is starting an MFA degree (Master of Fine Arts) in Fall 2020, with a focus on exploring how our nature connection practices have changed over time.
w/ Laura Rubin (Director, Healing Our Water – Great Lakes Coalition)
Laura Rubin has spent more than 30 years working on environmental protection, policy, and conservation issues. She is currently the Director of the Healing Our Waters—Great Lakes Coalition, which has been harnessing the collective power of more than 160 groups representing millions of people, whose common goal is to restore and protect the Great Lakes. The Coalition has earned a well-deserved reputation as a national leader in securing federal investment in regional ecosystem restoration efforts.
Before that Rubin worked as executive director of the Michigan-based Huron River Watershed Council since 1998, where she transformed the nonprofit from a low-profile organization to a high-impact, high-visibility national leader in the field of watershed management. HRWC leads in the development and dissemination of cutting-edge conservation and public-education projects and serves as a model for watershed organizations around the country and world.
She has served as a board member or advisor to local, state, and national organizations including the Michigan Environmental Council, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Great Lakes Integrated Science and Assessment Center, the University of Michigan School Of Natural External Advisory Board, the City of Ann Arbor’s Greenbelt Commission, and others. For her national leadership in river protection, she received the River Network’s 2013 River Hero Award. Prior to leading HRWC, Laura worked with small and medium sized manufacturers on pollution prevention efforts, consulted on economic development strategy with the Navajo Nation, and served as a Program Director at Greenpeace, where she cut her teeth on policy development, community organizing, and environmental advocacy.
Originally from the Chicago area, Laura grew up a block from Lake Michigan and learned to love and appreciate the beautiful waters, recreational opportunities, and rich ecology of the Great Lakes. She earned Master’s degrees in Business Administration and Natural Resource Policy at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute, and a Bachelor of Arts in business economics from Colorado College.
February 2020: “Private Forest Management in the Changing Northwoods”
W/ guests Dr. Paige Fischer (Assistant Professor – School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan) and Dr. Riva Denny (Postdoctoral Fellow – School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan).
The forests of northern Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, or the Northwoods, have undergone substantial environmental changes in the recent past including severe storms, insect and disease outbreaks, droughts, heat waves, winter thaws, and wildfires. In this webinar, we will share preliminary results from a mail survey-based project that investigates how private landowners have experienced and responded to these severe events in Northwoods forests. Our goal is to inform policies and programs that help private forestland owners adapt to changing environmental conditions.
Building on a series of nine focus group interviews that we conducted across the three states in 2017, we designed the mail survey to gather data about forest owners’ experiences with severe events, risk perceptions, management responses, environmental beliefs, and sources of information and advice. In late winter-early spring 2019, we sent the mail survey to a statistically representative sample of individual forestland owners in areas that were exposed to severe events in the Northwoods. We used GIS data on pest and disease outbreaks, storms, wildfires, and dramatic shifts in temperature and precipitation in the past two decades to identify the areas of higher than average exposure. We achieved a 39% response rate. In this webinar, we will share what we learned about the following questions:
- How have forest owners experienced to severe events in the Northwoods forests?
- What risks do owners associate with these changes?
- How have owners’ responded to these events through changes in management?
- How do owners perceive their ability to respond to sever events?
- What major psychological, social, economic, and geographic factors influence their risk perceptions and responses?”
“Paige Fischer is Assistant Professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan. The focus of her research and teaching is on human behavior as it relates to the sustainability of forests as socio-ecological systems. She investigates factors that enable and constrain human adaptation to natural hazards and climate-driven change in forest systems. Paige has been interested in human-forest interactions throughout her life. She grew up in Oregon where she developed a deep appreciation for forests and the communities that depend on them. She pursued undergraduate study in cultural anthropology at Hampshire College. After graduating she received a Fulbright Scholarship to study cultural influences on forest use in a village in Sri Lanka. She then worked for the San Francisco-based conservation organization, Pacific Environment, leading a program on international forest and trade policy in the Pacific Rim region. Paige received master’s and PhD degrees in natural resource sociology at Oregon State University. Her research there was on private landowners’ behavioral motivations to conserve oak habitat. Before joining the faculty at SNRE she was a Research Social Scientist with the Pacific Northwest Research Station of the Forest Service where she investigated private landowner wildfire risk perceptions and mitigation behaviors and the capacity of a network of natural resource organizations to adapt to increasing wildfire risk.
Riva C. H. Denny is a postdoctoral research fellow at the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. She has a PhD in Sociology from Michigan State University, and an MS in Rural Sociology from Auburn University. Her core research focus is on the interactions between social and environmental systems, particularly the way that the biophysical environment influences, or fails to influence, human decision-making at multiple scales. She uses both qualitative and quantitative methods and specializes in using multi-equation regression techniques like multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling with latent variables, and longitudinal analysis. She has worked extensively with survey data as well as large secondary datasets.
January 2020: Community Engagement Through Stewardship w/ Urban Neighborhood Initiatives
Our guest this month is Lisa Marie Rodriguez, Curator of Parks & Green Spaces at Urban Neighborhood Initiatives
“One of the challenges the City of Detroit faces is being unable to provide oversight of vacant lots, blight, and illegal dumping. The city’s waning tax base due to population decline prevented government officials from pursuing absentee landowners and the investigation of illegal dumping. This is significant as we consider the Springwells neighborhood to be one of many coping with the expanse of vacancy and blight.
Without city resources to hold landowners accountable, the prevalence of physical disorder continued to increase. While it has become imperative for dangerous and blighted structures to be removed, it has also become vital for the community to seek ways to redevelop the lot. Generous community partnership can help us purchase commercial grade landscape equipment, maintain existing power equipment, rent heavy duty earth moving equipment, rent dumpsters, purchase hardy perennial plants, grass seed, purchase contractor grade trash bags and safety glasses.
The Land Stewardship Initiative of Urban Neighborhood Initiatives (UNI) works to address vacant lots and illegal dumping. Absentee landowners stand to be amongst one of the most prevalent variables in creating the problem. In addition to absentee landowners, the increase of vacant side lots due to the City’s blighted structures demolition program contributes to the problem. Under the leadership of Lisa Marie Rodriguez, the Curator of Parks and Green Spaces, UNI receives nominations of vacant lots to be taken under stewardship annually. UNI also recruits neighborhood residents to serve as stewards of these lots”
December 2019: The Value of Citizen Science in Bird Conservation
Our guest this month is Francie Krawcke, Executive Director of the Michigan Avian Experience:
“Birds are all around us, making anywhere we can observe them a place of potential discovery. Ecologically, they are widespread in many different types of natural communities and respond quickly to changes in the environment. For this month’s webcast, Michigan Avian Experience’s Director, Francie Krawcke will lead us in a conversation focusing on “Bird Focused Citizen Science.” We will discuss the value of citizen science from an agency/organizational perspective, the benefits for the participants, and the impacts on wild bird populations, providing key takeaways that decision-makers can use to make informed decisions about whether this methodology is right for them.”
Francie’s Dad once asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Be happy was her response. Little did they know at the time Francie was to embark on a journey that would take her to 35 different states and 2 countries teaching with birds of prey. With over 15 years raptor training experience and almost 20 years teaching in the environmental education and interpretation field, she is one of about a dozen individuals in the country that have successfully trained a wild bald eagle to free fly. In addition, she has free flown 10 different species and trained over 20 different species of raptors. With a degree from Northern Michigan University and a Certified Interpretative Guide from the National Association of Interpretation, Francie is specifically trained in theory and practice of interpretation and environmental education. During that time she has presented at national and international conferences, organized two Michigan Raptor Connection workshops, teacher training workshops, developed environmental conservation curriculum and had loads of fun. As Executive Director of Michigan Avian Experience, she is able to share her work with others.
w/ guest Dr. Jacqueline Courteau:
“How can we assess deer impacts on species, communities, and ecosystems? Dr. Jacqueline Courteau will explore a range of different monitoring methods, and will discuss the challenges addressing indirect effects and interactions. We will consider deer impacts beyond direct damage to plants that are browsed, such as the ways in which deer browsing may decrease flower availability, leading to declines in pollinators—and other such “trophic cascades.” Examples from research in southeast Michigan over the past 20 years will be used to illustrate different approaches.”
Dr. Jacqueline Courteau is an ecologist, consultant, and writer/editor. She has taught courses including field ecology and ecology labs, restoration ecology, sense of place, natural history, and environmental writing at University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. As a project manager and editor, her most recent work has been a book about training donkeys to harness for use on small farms and homesteads. Through her company, NatureWrite LLC, she does research and consulting including ecological assessment and monitoring, restoration plans, forest regeneration, deer impacts on vegetation, and other plant-animal interactions, and invasive species, and has worked for Ann Arbor’s city parks, Washtenaw County parks, Huron-Clinton Metroparks, and the Michigan DNR, as well as Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Huron River Watershed Council. She has offered talks, hikes, and workshops on tree ID, invasive species, oak regeneration, climate change, ecological assessment, monitoring deer impacts, and spring wildflowers. She enjoys helping people connect to their land and the plants that grow on it, through learning about ecosystems as well as more meditative connections through nature journaling.
October 2019: Ticks & Fire – Can long-term prescribed fire be used to reduce risk of tick-borne disease?
w/ guest Elizabeth R. Gleim, assistant professor of biology and environmental studies at Hollins University
“For the past several decades, both the incidence and emergence of tick-borne diseases has increased dramatically. As more and more citizens become concerned about contracting tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever or alpha gal (the “red meat allergy”), it’s critical that effective, practical approaches to reducing tick populations and tick-borne disease risk be identified. Could prescribed fire be the answer? Join Elizabeth Gleim to hear about her research investigating the impacts of long-term prescribed fire on tick populations and disease risk and more broadly about the work that has been done on this topic and its implications for use of fire to reduce ticks in the Midwest.”
“Elizabeth “Liz” Gleim received her B.A. in biology from Hollins University. Prior to her graduate work, Liz spent two years working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the Division of Parasitic Diseases and then went on to get her Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology and Management with a focus on disease ecology from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Georgia. At UGA, her research focused on the impacts of long-term prescribed fire on tick populations and tick-borne disease risk. Following her doctoral work, she was a visiting faculty member in the biology department at Oxford College of Emory University and has spent the last three years back at Hollins, her alma mater, as an assistant professor of biology and environmental studies. At Hollins, Liz’s research continues to study forest pest and disease ecology with a particular focus on tick-borne disease ecology.”
September 2019: Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
w/ guests Naomi Edelson (Senior Director, Wildlife Partnerships – National Wildlife Federation) and Dan Kennedy (Endangered Species Coordinator – Michigan DNR, Wildlife Division)
“The bipartisan Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (HR3742) would dedicate $1.3 billion for state-led conservation efforts and $97.5 million to Tribal nations to recover and sustain healthy fish and wildlife populations. If passed, this would be the most significant new investment in wildlife conservation in more than a generation. This groundbreaking legislation will help ensure that future generations can enjoy the same abundant fish and wildlife and outdoor recreation opportunities that we have today. Naomi and Dan will give an overview of this important legislation and provide suggestions on how to help support the national campaign.”
August 2019: Collaborative Efforts to Reduce Invasive Phragmites Australis in the Great Lakes Basin
w/ guest Elaine Ferrier
“Elaine is a Sr. Program Specialist with the Great Lakes Commission and works with a core team of Great Lakes Commission and USGS staff to coordinate the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative. She facilitates communication and strategic advancement for the Collaborative’s efforts across states, provinces, and tribal nations. She first began working with Phragmites since 2010 when it appeared in restoration monitoring plots in Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. She later worked on strategic planning for phragmites with Ontario Parks and was a volunteer co-chair for the Ontario Phragmites Working Group before joining the Great Lakes Commission team in 2016. She holds a BA from Trent University in natural resource studies and a Masters in Environmental Studies from University of Waterloo.”
w/ guests Becky Gajewski and Katie Carlisle:
“One of the biggest conundrums any land manager / property owner / community faces is how to respond to the early detection of an aggressive invasive species. Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), a notoriously invasive sprawling grass introduced from Asia in the early 20th century when it was used as packing material for fine china, was recently discovered for the first time in southeast MI. Learn how the community of land managers and private property owners quickly banded together and rather than wait for this species to invade their property worked quickly, strategically and in coordinated fashion. Most organizations and individuals were already part of The Stewardship Network Huron-Arbor Cluster which allowed for the capacity of an immediate control effort in combination with significant on-the-ground efforts by the landowners to form the Wasthenaw County Stiltgrass Working Group and how they are addressing this urgent issue.”
Becky Gajewski is a Stewardship Specialist for the Natural Area Preservation (NAP) division of the City of Ann Arbor’s Parks and Recreation Services Unit, where her mission is to protect and restore Ann Arbor’s natural areas and to foster an environmental ethic among its citizens. With several years of experience in ecological restoration, botany, and parks, she oversees NAP’s biological inventory program and assists with management planning for park natural areas. As manager of the inventory program, she coordinates two field biologists and numerous volunteers who participate in several citizen science-based wildlife survey programs. Becky is also in charge of data management and mapping for NAP and serves as a burn boss on prescribed burns. She graduated from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment with an MS in Natural Resources and Environment, and also holds a certificate in GIS from Penn State University.
Katie Carlisle is the Stewardship Coordinator at Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. She is responsible for protecting and enhancing natural features in Washtenaw County Parks and Preserves in addition to promoting and coordinating volunteer opportunities. After receiving a Master’s of Science in Geophysics from Boise State University, she spent several years doing outdoor education, volunteer coordination, and stewardship work.
June 2019: Exploring Partnership & Stewardship Impacts
w/ guest Sharon Farrell
In her role at the conservancy, Sharon supports many of the organization’s conservation initiatives and community science, restoration, and stewardship programs. This includes advancing opportunities for engaging partners, scientists and community members in research, monitoring and many aspects of land stewardship. Sharon also works closely with agency partners to oversee the One Tam Initiative, a community initiative to help ensure a healthy future for Mt. Tamalpais.
Prior to joining the Parks Conservancy in 2004, Sharon was the Executive Director of the Watershed Project. Her work included capacity building for “Friends” groups, with a focus on partnership and fund development with municipalities and local governments. Sharon developed training and grants programs to support this work, and forged regional partnerships with other Bay Area non-profit organizations to support community-based stakeholder groups.
Sharon has also worked as an ecologist and resource specialist with the National Park Service, a resource planner with the Presidio Trust, and as an environmental consultant. Sharon holds a MS in Park Management with emphasis on Ecological Restoration and Community Stewardship, and a BS in Chemistry.
Sharon is an avid backpacker, nature photographer, and explorer. Originally from the United Kingdom, she now lives in the East Bay with her wife Sue, their two children, and their dog, Marco. Together they are frequent hikers of the amazing landscapes on Mt. Tam, Point Reyes, and the Marin Headlands.
May 2019: “Branching Out: New Insights on the Linkages between Trees and Water in Urban Ecosystems”
w/ guest Asia Dowtin, Assistant Professor of Urban Forestry at Michigan State University’s College of Forestry:
“In recent years, our understanding of the threats posed by rapid urbanization on environmental function and quality has prompted efforts to conserve and reintroduce green space within cities, with emphasis placed on increasing urban forest canopy cover. Many related initiatives have focused on expanding the urban street tree population, with little work done to deepen our knowledge of the environmental processes occurring within remnant urban woodlots. This study will explore the role these “micro-ecosystems” play in ecosystem function and service provision, specifically the capture and redistribution of water, nutrients, and pollutants within cities. Implications for urban conservation will be discussed”
“Asia Dowtin’s research uses in situ sampling and laboratory-based techniques to quantify hydrologic and nutrient cycling in the urban forest. Her work explores the relationships that exist between urban canopy structure, spatial context, and plant-water interactions to broaden our understanding of the influence of species composition and surrounding land use on urban forest function. A major goal of Dowtin’s work is to utilize this knowledge to inform the development of urban forest management plans, specifically those intended to optimize yield of select regulating and supporting ecosystem services by municipal trees. Her broader research interests include regional water resource management and hazard mitigation.”
April 2019: Spring Invasive Species Challenge Edition!
As we begin the 2019 field season, it’s important for us to remember that while our individual efforts may be geographically separated, they are all connected through the pursuit of a common goal:
“Pulling today for native plants tomorrow!”
The Stewardship Network’s Spring Invasive Species Challenge is a chance for us to appreciate the work we do in a larger context and see how our individual efforts are all a part of the larger collective impact that we can have together. Plus, you get to see how your work stacks up against other challengers for a chance at being crowned champion of your weight class.
Our guest this month is Kelly Kearns from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who will be giving a presentation about some of the non-native, herbaceous plant species that are most effectvely treated in the spring months. The webcast will also feature additional special guests, as well as an overview of the 2019 Spring Invasive Species Challenge with everything you need to know about how you can get involved this work season. We will also be welcoming a few of our winners from the 2018 challenge, who will be discussing the work that they do and as well as their experience participating in the challenge.
March 2019 “Development of an Automated Monitoring Platform for Invasives in Coastal Ecosystems,”
with guests Joshua Cohen (Lead Ecologist of Michigan Natural Features Inventory [MNFI]) and Matthew Lewis (Chief Technology Officer of Michigan Aerospace Corporation [MAC])
“The Great Lakes region supports a wide array of coastal natural communities that are endemic and globally rare including lakeplain prairie, Great Lakes marsh, open dunes, alvar, and coastal fen. These ecosystems face a variety of threats, including the establishment and spread of invasive species. There is a critical need to develop scientifically credible and affordable methods for detecting and monitoring the impacts of invasive plant species in coastal ecosystems and assessing the success of restoration efforts to control invasives. Because monitoring efforts are costly and time-consuming, monitoring is often assigned the lowest priority in management plans and is often bypassed. Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Michigan Aerospace Corporation are partnering to develop a low-cost monitoring platform using drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and deep learning algorithms to identify invasive species in high-quality coastal ecosystems. In this presentation we will share results of our first year of research.”
February 2019: “Fire’s American Century”
“The late 19th century was a time of monstrous fires associated with settlement. The U.S. adopted a program of state-sponsored conservation in response, much as Europe’s colonial powers did. The Great Fires of 1910 mark the advent of modern fire protection. The next 50 years saw the creation of a national infrastructure for fire control with the U.S. Forest Service as an institutional matrix and a policy of suppression as a standard. In the 1960s a protest movement objected, and by 1978 a veritable revolution had occurred that redefined the goal as a policy of fire by prescription, which intended to restore good fires. Equally, it removed the Forest Service as a hegemon in favor of interagency institutions. That project stalled under the Reagan and Bush the Elder administrations, then revived after the 1994 season. By then the window for reform had narrowed. Now, after 50 years of attempted restoration, the federal agencies are moving toward a hybrid practice of managed wildfire. Today, each era continues to promote updated versions of its goals. Suppression is moving toward an all-hazard, urban fire-service model. Restoration has expanded from simple prescribed fire to interactive techniques involving fire and fuel management, all embedded in complex collaborations. The managed wildfire is still a work in progress, but it seems implicitly to reject the idea that we can get ahead of the problem or that fire is something largely under our control in favor of administrative mashups. Interesting times.”
“Steve Pyne is a former North Rim Longshot, now an emeritus professor at Arizona State University. He has written fire histories for the U.S., Australia, Canada, Europe (including Russia), and the Earth. Most recently he has revisited the American fire scene with a general narrative from 1960-2013, Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America, and a suite of nine regional fire surveys under the general title, To the Last Smoke.”