2016 G-WOW ‘Hear the Water Speak’ climate institute goes international

"Hear the Water Speak" participants pose for a photo together after spending the day on Lake Superior's Stockton Island.Contact Cathy Techtmann, 715-561-2695, catherine.techtmann@ces.uwex.edu

Despite severe flooding, closed roads and storms that disrupted power, the 2016 G-WOW “Hear the Water Speak” Institute successfully conducted a climate change professional development training for 28 educators and community leaders. This year’s institute attracted participants from across the county and Canada, including First Nations tribal elders from Ontario.

The four-day institute was held in July at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, in Ashland, Wis. with activities in surrounding tribal communities and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

This year the Institute’s special focus was on climate impacts affecting water and aquatic ecosystems. “We definitely heard the ‘water speak’ due to recent storm impacts on local communities,” said Cathy Techtmann, UW-Extension environmental outreach specialist and director of the Institute.

Participants investigated Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impact research that projects an increase in the frequency of two-inch and greater heavy precipitation events, particularly in the Lake Superior basin.

“It appears that culture and science agree that we may be seeing more of these heavy rain and storm events due to climate change,” Techtmann said.

This year’s Institute was professionally filmed and will be used to create a training video to help others develop G-WOW institutes within their communities. The G-WOW web-based curriculum will be expanded to include a new unit on water and climate change.

The Institute was funded by a Great Lake Restoration Initiative grant through the National Park Service-Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It has integrated place-based evidence of climate change and traditional ecological knowledge of the Lake Superior Ojibwe with climate science to demonstrate how educators can create a culturally relevant approach to climate education within their communities.

This is the fifth year that UW-Extension environmental outreach specialist Cathy Techtmann and G-WOW partner agencies, including the Apostle Island National Lakeshore, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the US Forest Service, have offered a G-WOW Institute.

 

Photo: Participants in the 2016 “Hear the Water Speak” climate institute pose for a photo after spending the day on Lake Superior’s Stockton Island.

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