Put-in-Bay, OH This summer, Stone Laboratory, Ohio State’s Island Campus on Lake Erie, hosted 17 outreach events that gave staff a chance to show off their work to politicians, science writers, environmental leaders, and influential donors, and educate them about the lake’s role in the Great Lakes region’s economic and environmental health.
Getting information out to the public is a large part of Ohio Sea Grant’s efforts. To further this goal, science writers and journalists from across the Great Lakes region attended a two-day workshop that helped them learn more about the lake ecosystem, including harmful algal blooms and Lake Erie water snakes.
“When you get 14 outstanding journalists, science writers, television reporters, and radio people up there, you get lots of coverage of the issues”? explains Dr. Jeff Reutter, Director of Ohio Sea Grant & Stone Lab. “And writers from the Toledo Blade or the Cleveland Plain Dealer, if they put together a story about an issue, they’re going to reach a lot more people than one of our publications.”?
Retreat on the Rock, a two-day conference for Ohio State University communications professionals from 32 departments and three regional campuses, continued this outreach effort. Attendees were able to develop new relationships that will benefit the university in the future, and could see first-hand how their departments could incorporate Stone Lab offerings into their programs.
Events also targeted decision makers in the Great Lakes region directly. Collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), a division of the USDA, brought influential members of the farming community in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan to the lab, where they discussed farming’s contribution to phosphorus loading, harmful algal blooms, and potential ways to mitigate problems without damaging agriculture, a major industry in Lake Erie’s western watershed.
A meeting of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a worldwide non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting and restoring critical habitat and improving biodiversity and environmental health, gave Board of Trustees members from Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana — all states within the Lake Erie and Maumee River watershed — a chance to discuss strategies for becoming more influential on environmental policies.
“The organization is trying to improve the environment, and preserving land is a wonderful way to do it and will always be part of their mission”? Reutter, who is a member of the Ohio Board, explains. “But a lot of times they can have a much greater impact by encouraging, modifying, or implementing a policy.”?
Many of this year’s outreach events were made possible with a grant from the Joyce Foundation, but of course, donations of any size are an important part of the lab’s budget. This year, staff had the chance to show off their work to members of Ohio State University’s President’s Club, the university’s premier donor society. While the visit was initially planned as a one-time event, interest was so great that a second date was added to accommodate more visitors, 140 in all.
You can read more about these and other Stone Lab outreach events in the Fall/Winter issue of Ohio Sea Grant’s Twine Line.
Located on the 6.5-acre Gibraltar Island in Put-in-Bay harbor, Stone Laboratory is Ohio State’s Island Campus on Lake Erie and the education and research facility of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program. The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For information on Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.
Christina Dierkes, Ohio Sea Grant, firstname.lastname@example.org.