Teacher Professional Development

Teachers can be students, too! ISEA offers teacher workshops during the summer to keep you up-to-date on Great Lakes issues and connect you to other area teachers. The Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative, an initiative of ISEA, provides year-round support and professional development specifically to teachers that are interested in implementing place-based education in their classrooms. Read below to find out more about the professional development opportunities we have available to teachers.

Inland Seas - Great Lakes Watershed Field Course

Making the Great Lakes Great Teacher Workshop ImageWe are thrilled to announce our teacher professional development offering for 2017, the Great Lakes Watershed Field Course. It is open to teachers anywhere in the Great Lakes region.

It begins with a 4-day experience based in Suttons Bay, MI in June 2017. We will visit projects in the Grand Traverse Region that improve watershed health: invasive species control and prevention; native species habitat improvements; nutrient run off reductions; and cleaning up Great Lakes Areas of Concern (as defined by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative).

Training will include watershed and environmental concepts, place based education and environmental education pedagogy, and time for curriculum development. Plus there will be opportunities to enjoy our beautiful region.

Teachers who participate will be required to implement a watershed-based stewardship project in their classrooms. Inland Seas will support you throughout the school year with additional training, online forums, and other forms of assistance.  Please email Jeanie if you’d like to learn more about this opportunity:  jwilliams@schoolship.org.

Teachers are responsible for their own transportation to Suttons Bay, but there is no additional cost to participate: food, lodging, and programming are all covered by a NOAA B-WET grant. Preference will be given to teachers who are located within a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Area of Concern (Kalamazoo River, Saginaw River and Bay, Detroit River, Rouge River, Maumee River, Black River, Cuyahoga River, Milwaukee Estuary, Fox River/Lower Green Bay, Menominee River, Manistique River, St. Marys River, Muskegon Lake, St. Clair River, Clinton River, River Raisin, Grand Calumet River).

Lots more details and information on how to apply are in the GLWFC Application Packet.

To apply, complete the application form. Please read the GLWFC application packet before applying. Applications are due Feb 28. Applications will be reviewed as they come in – spots are filling up!



After you have been accepted into the program, you can apply for 2 graduate credits through Ferris State University. The cost is $150 ($75 per credit). Fill out this application, and mail it directly to Ferris with your payment, or turn in the paperwork and payment when you arrive at Inland Seas in June.

Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative

The Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative (GTSI) can trace its origins to the Great Lakes Water Studies Institute at Northwestern Michigan College. In 2004, a professional development initiative began, first as RIPPLE and later as the DTE Freshwater Institute for Teachers. The goal was to help teachers launch place-based education in K-12 classrooms as a strategy to inspire lifelong stewardship of freshwater.

In 2007, inspired by these efforts in the Grand Traverse region, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust (GLFT) established and funded a state-wide initiative called the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) with the mission of providing educators with the training and experience needed to help Michigan’s young people gain knowledge about the Great Lakes watershed, and become future stewards of the environment.

The GLSI’s infrastructure is made up of nine regional “hubs” in Michigan who provide leadership, expertise, and support for the GLSI’s three key strategies: Place-based educationschool-community partnerships, and sustained professional development for teachers.

In 2009, the GLFT provided funds to establish the Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative and  since 2010, 89 teachers, 113 community partners, and 5,000 students have collaborated on place-based projects.

Some of the benefits to teachers include:

  • Sustained professional development – The GTSI Coordinator collaborates with partners, administrators, non-traditional educators and PBE experts to offer a diverse menu of professional development sessions that cater to teachers’ needs.
  • Place-Based Education – The benefits to utilizing PBE with your classroom are numerous. The students and teachers reap the benefits of more engaging learning opportunities and the local community benefits from the outcomes of school- partner relationships and a next generation of stewards that are more invested in ‘place.’
  • Community Partner Relationships – Community partners can serve as a wonderful resource to educators, providing teachers with greater background knowledge on specific content, engaging directly with students to share information, and involving classrooms in hands-on projects that produce visible outcomes. GTSI’s role is to provide resources and assistance to time-limited teachers to help nurture those valuable relationships with community partners.
  • Access To Resources – GTSI does the hard work of tracking down resources to make them easily available to teachers. Funding for classroom projects, community partners open to collaborating, curriculum and classroom activities, professional development … the resources we collect for teachers are as varied as the teachers’ needs.
  • One-On-One Assistance – The GTSI Coordinator is available to work one-on-one with individual and teams of teachers to provide guidance on project implementation, community partner engagement, PBE and project-related curriculum for in-class implementation and funding.

For the 2016-17 school year, the GTSI has committed to:

  • Providing mini-grants for at least 16 teachers to implement place- based education projects with their students
  • Hosting 2 educator sails for GTSI teachers aboard Inland Seas
  • Providing 2 workshops on the fundamentals of place-based education
  • Implementing 3 community connections workshops that provide a forum for networking and collaboration with community partners

Contact our GTSI Coordinator, Michelle Handke (mhandke@schoolship.org), to find out more about GTSI.

Teachers outside of the Grand Traverse region can click here to visit the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative website to find a GLSI hub near you!

Sign-up for news, events and other ISEA information