Caleb grew up in mid-Michigan, where he developed an enduring connection to his home state and the Great Lakes ecosystems. This connection has informed and inspired his work and life ever since, and he is deeply grateful to be working with GLSI in service to Michigan’s communities and environment. Caleb earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Applications from Michigan State University and, much later, a master’s degree in Environmental Geoscience from Mississippi State University.
After his undergraduate years at MSU, Caleb spent two years as a residential environmental educator with the Inside the Outdoors Foundation in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California. He then began an 11-year tenure with Tremont Institute, a residential environmental learning center located within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. During this time, Caleb focused on developing school and community pathways of place-based education experiences for youth that connected across grade levels, schools, and places–from the schoolyard, to the backyard, to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Caleb also developed multi-touchpoint place-based professional development programs for educators and pre-service education students, in partnership with the University of Tennessee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Caleb later transitioned into nonprofit leadership while serving as the Director of the Smokies to Schoolyards Initiative, and later as the Development Director for Tremont Institute. Most recently, Caleb served a 2-year term as the Executive Director of Young Voices for the Planet, a national youth-based environmental storytelling and mentorship organization.
Lisa Marckini-Polk earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from Wayne State University. While pursuing a Ph.D. in public policy at Wayne State, she participated in research efforts focused on the impact of term limitation on the Michigan Legislature and on shifts in the representation of central cities in the U. S. Congress. She was employed by Public Policy Associates, Inc. between 1999 and 2003, where she worked on research and evaluation efforts related to natural resources, small business development, workforce development, education, customer service in the public sector, and land use.
Marckini-Polk established Civic Research Services, Inc. in January 2004. Since then, she has worked on numerous evaluations and program-development efforts with the environment as a common theme. Since 2007, she has managed the evaluation of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. She has expertise in an array of evaluation strategies as well as data management, data visualization and analysis, and facilitation skills. Since 2018, she has additionally contributed to the GLSI’s business and financial planning and to development of new services.
Place-Based Education Conference Organizer
Jan’s relationship with the GLSI began in 2012, when she worked for Earth Force as the Director for the Center for National Partnerships and the GM GREEN program. She worked with the GLSI hubs in Muskegon, Ypsilanti, and Houghton to integrate the Earth Force 6-step environmental action civics process into their PBE strategies. This strengthened an already deep love for Michigan and the Great Lakes, and cultivated a deep appreciation for place, and she moved to Kalamazoo in 2015.
She joined the GLSI team in 2017 as the organizer of the GLSI’s 6th Place-Based Education Conference and added administrative support responsibilities in 2018.
Jan earned her Bachelor of Science from Appalachian State University and her Master of Environmental Science degree from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Much of her professional career has centered on environmental and watershed protection—from her roles as an educator with the Sound to Sea residential environmental education program on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to limnology assistant with the Indiana Clean Lakes Program, to Volunteer Coordinator for the Indiana DNR’s Hoosier Riverwatch program, to program manager and then director of Earth Force’s GM GREEN program.
In her free time, Jan enjoys kayaking, hiking, and searching for macroinvertebrates on rocks in lakes and streams with her husband and two kids.
Executive Director Emeritus
Mary Whitmore earned her bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology at Michigan State University. A Rotary International Graduate Fellowship allowed her to study for one year at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. With support from a series of university postgraduate research fellowships and a research award from the American Museum of Natural History, she remained in Australia, where she conducted field research and obtained a doctoral degree in zoology.
Returning home, Whitmore spent ten years as the Resident Ecologist at the University of Michigan Biological Station. There, she expanded her interests to include K–12 and citizen science education, and launched a successful and popular outreach program to make the Station’s facilities and resources more accessible to people in northern Michigan’s rural schools and communities. She helped establish the Michigan Mathematics and Science Centers Program, and served as the director of one such center for nearly two decades. She was also the Co-Coordinator for Professional Development for the Michigan Statewide Systemic Initiative, and a program officer in the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s science education program.
In 2006, at the invitation of the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, she spent a year working with others in Michigan and beyond to develop the concept of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. She has served as the initiative’s coordinator since its inception in 2007.