Outreach and Extension

We proactively manage the interplay between locally identified needs/demands and our role as information providers to help people solve problems and create long-term empowerment, understanding, and problem-solving/decision-making capabilities. We seek measurable quality in outreach programming, on impacts on the resource, and on citizens’ quality of life.


What is Outreach?

On a University level, MSU defines “Outreach” as…

“Outreach is a form of scholarship that cuts across teaching, research, and service. It involves generating, transmitting, applying, and preserving knowledge for the direct benefit of external audiences in ways that are consistent with university and unit missions.”
. . . transforms and strengthens community/university partnerships
. . . applies knowledge to address key societal issues


Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Outreach values and principles

  • Land-Grant philosophy: meeting locally-defined needs, helping and empowering citizens to “help themselves,” and providing citizens access to university resources for improving their quality of life.
  • Works in the interface between habitats, populations, and human dimensions of fisheries and wildlife management
  • Coordination of outreach is important
  • We need to let people (internally and externally) know what fisheries and wildlife management is, and how outreach is one effective management tool
  • We seek measurable quality in outreach programming and in impacts of programs
  • Proactive rather than reactive


Current Outreach in Our Department

Current outreach projects being conducted by faculty and staff in Fisheries and Wildlife include:

Emerging diseases in fish and wildlife populations

Fish and wildlife diseases that impact the health and well being of Michigan’s natural resources, citizens and agricultural interests are on the rise.

Outreach related to emerging diseases in fish and wildlife populations:

  • Technical support provided to the NRC and MDNR on deer baiting and feeding regulations to eradicate bovine TB
  • Presentations at public meetings with NGO’s on bovine TB
  • Extension brochure and programs on whirling disease in trout
  • NCRAC projects on fish disease management
  • Sampling protocols for Lake Michigan chinook salmon health assessment

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Human-wildlife interactions

Changing human demographic and expanding urban and suburban land uses, coupled with shifts in the size and distribution of wild populations result in interactions that are often potentially injurious to both.

Outreach related to human-wildlife interactions:

  • Communications of bear issues to southern Michigan residents
  • Technical advice for Detroit Metro parks regarding deer population impacts
  • Advice to DNR, Mississippi Flyway Council on goose harvest regulations

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Aquatic nuisance species (ANS)

Exotic species invasions have led to drastic changes in aquatic ecosystems throughout North America and the world. We are working on many fronts to assess and mitigate the effects of these aquatic nuisance species.

Outreach related to aquatic nuisance species (ANS):

  • Sea Grant Extension specialist on ANS - numerous publications, presentations, etc. (including 4-H Purple Loosestrife Project)
  • Examples of outreach publications:
    • “Coping with zebra mussels” - an outreach program for municipal/industrial water users
    • “Citizen lake monitoring”
    • “Purple loosestrife” - biological control in Michigan
  • Information summary on Sonar to Michigan Environmental Science Board
  • Presentations on Sonar research findings to Lake Associations, DNR fisheries and wildlife divisions, scientific meetings
  • Posters on Sonar for Ag Expo and Outdoor Expo
  • MSU Extension bulletin “Integrated Pest Management for Nuisance Exotics in Michigan Inland Lakes”
  • Regular advice to sea lamprey program staff; membership on Task Forces; leadership for GLFC sea lamprey research program

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Harvest management

A significant portion of Michigan’s tourist and recreation income, as well as the quality of life for Michigan’s citizens, is dependent upon having viable fish and wildlife populations.

Outreach related to harvest management:

  • Technical advice to DNR / GLFC / CORA (tribal fishery authority) on fishery harvest capacity and allocation issues
  • Technical advice to federal and state agencies on hatchery management practices
  • Advice to DNR and NRC on setting wildlife harvest regulations
  • Leadership for revisions of inland fishery regulations
  • Articles on deer management in Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine
  • Advice to Canadian and U.S. agencies on goose harvest management

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Ecosystem management: landscape and watersheds

Natural resource management is undergoing a transition from species-oriented to ecosystem-oriented problem solving. Our Department has made a strategic commitment to advancing the science of ecosystem management.

Outreach related to ecosystem management: landscape and watersheds:

  • Collaboration with state DNR; advice on management strategies
  • Legal dimensions of policy development for ecosystem management in Malawi
  • Community outreach on status the Red Cedar watershed
  • Workshops on preparing watershed management plans
  • Technical support through the regional CRP study to the U.S. Congress on the Farm Bill
  • Pond management workshops and extension programs
  • Wetland management consultation with communities and agencies

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Ecosystem management: Great Lakes

The Great Lakes comprise a vast aquatic resource in which the State of Michigan has a major interest. The bi-national organizations (GLFC, IJC) that oversee Great Lakes resources are committed to ecosystem approaches to management of fisheries and other aquatic resources.

Outreach related to ecosystem management: Great Lakes:

  • “Life of the Lake” - award-winning TV documentary
  • Sea Grant Extension agents advise the GLFC and MDNR
  • Sea Grant Extension public education workshops
  • Sea Grant Extension assisted discussion of Great Lakes fishery management issues (e.g., salmonid stocking cuts, perch decline)
  • Annual Great Lakes Conference during ANR week
  • Membership on GLFC Board of Technical Experts (science advice to Commission)
  • Regular attendance at meetings, and technical advice for Great Lakes fishery management committees, and technical committees.
  • Advice to multiple state, federal, and international agencies on hatchery practices
  • 4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Teen Leadership Camp

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Natural resource management systems

Technological advances in data and information management systems, as well as knowledge of organizational theory and behavior form the background to many innovative contributions we are making to improving resource management systems.

Outreach related to Natural resource management systems:

  • Collaboration with state agencies and NGOs for statewide lake classification system
  • Collaboration with MDNR on creation of statewide lake GIS database
  • Leadership in development of resource inventory methods for DNR fishery division
  • Wetland bioassesment technique workshops
  • Workshops on decision analysis, stock assessment, risk assessment for fishery management agencies and stakeholders
  • Development of strategic planning/decision models for wildlife management
  • Captive cervid “white paper” to MDNR and MDA
  • DEER-MOM - training model for population/habitat issues for deer management

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Tribal rights to natural resources

The formal recognition of Native American rights to use of fish and wildlife resources, established during the 19th century, has become a key issue for resource management in Michigan. We have played an important technical role in the negotiations over fishing rights in Great Lakes waters, and will continue to contribute to the debate over use of inland wildlife and fishery resources.

Outreach related to tribal rights to natural resources:

  • Video on gill net fishing and Consent Decree requirements (Sea Grant Extension)
  • Extensive interaction with state and tribal biologists to apply (and train in the use of) stock assessment models
  • Technical advice to parties for negotiations for wildlife and inland fishery harvest

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Natural resource stewardship development

Conservation and rehabilitation of fish and wildlife resources and their ecosystems (the Department mission) will require citizens with a strong and effective sense of stewardship to implement science-based resource management. We address this need as well as the need for resource science.

Outreach related to Natural resource stewardship development:

  • Information Exchange
  • Detroit River Remedial Action Plan - with Wayne county MSU Extension
  • LeadNet AoE Team - Community Action Leadership
  • Facilitator for South Branch Mill Creek Inter-county Drain, Technical Advisory Committee
  • Project F.I.S.H.
  • Burke Lake Banding Station
  • 4-H Shooting Sports program
  • 4-H Natural Resources/Environmental Education program (volunteer and teacher training programs, curriculum and project guides, state-wide and county-based events, etc.)
  • Stewardship ethics curriculum for International Hunter Education Association
  • Development of Lake Leaders Institute for Michigan Lakes and Stream Association
  • Development of Great Lakes Fisheries Leadership Institute for various fisheries stakeholders
  • GLEP - ship-based Great Lakes outdoor education courses

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Conservation biology/ecosystem restoration

Human activities continue to have impacts on fish and wildlife populations. We continue to work closely with public and private agencies on the protection of animal populations at risk and the restoration of already degraded populations and the habitats upon which they depend.

Outreach related to conservation biology/ecosystem restoration:

  • Advice to U.S. FWS on lake trout hatchery management practices
  • Advice to U.S. FWS and MDNR on ecological classification and identification of biodiversity conservation areas
  • Technical advice on contaminant issues, related to Saginaw Bay ecosystem restoration
  • Advice to Kirland’s warbler recovery team

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Youth Programs

We participate in three youth programs:
4-H Great Lakes and Natural Resources Camp
Project FISH
Burke Lake Banding Station