A New Approach to Environmental Education
The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative was launched by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust in 2007 with a 10-year, $10 million commitment, as part of its ongoing investment in environmental education that leads to stewardship of the Great Lakes. The Wege Foundation also provided generous support for several GLSI hubs during this period. Other funders included the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Fremont Area Community Foundation, the Frey Foundation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
From the beginning, a key element of the GLSI’s success has been our commitment to develop and sustain relationships with each other, with partner organizations, and with our participants. Developing these long-term relationships has been made possible largely because of our key funders’ long-term commitment to our work.
All GLSI hubs operate under the umbrellas of their host organizations. This arrangement has two benefits: it allows the GLSI to leverage resources within those host organizations and within the larger regions served by hubs for the benefit of all, and it allows the GLSI to direct its own resources and attention to the goal of supporting place-based environmental stewardship in K–12 schools and communities.
Upon the sunset of funding from the Trust, and after a two-year process of research, reflection, and planning, we established the GLSI as an independent nonprofit organization in 2018. Our hubs have always had a strong affinity for one another—sharing resources, contributing to the GLSI’s database, collaborating to solve problems, celebrating each other’s successes, and meeting twice each year to share, learn, reflect, and plan. We recognize that we can be much more effective as a network than we could ever be as disconnected, isolated entities pursuing the same mission. Today, that spirit of “community” is bolstered by our organizational structure, and continues to be a driving force in all we do.
Since its inception, four national consultants have served as advisers to GLSI:
- Greg Smith, Professor, Graduate School of Education, Lewis and Clark College (ret)
- David Sobel, Director, Center for Place-based Education at Antioch New England Institute
- Doris Terry Williams, Senior Fellow and Principal Consultant, Rural School and Community Trust
- Jon Yoder, Educator, Salem-Keizer School District (ret)