G-WOW! Changing Climate, Changing Culture Programs

New GWOW logoGikinoo’wizhiwe Onji Waaban”

(“Guiding for Tomorrow” in the Ojibwe language or “G-WOW”)

When I saw that we would be teaching about climate change…, I thought Ugghhh!!!  Now I see that the cultural impact of climate change is how to approach  middle school kids with this topic.“- G-WOW  Institute Teacher

“G-WOW” is a unique model for increasing people’s knowledge of climate change and encouraging them to take action to address it. The G-WOW model is based on investigating climate change through its impact on cultural and economic practices we value, based on how a changing climate is affecting sustainability of species and habitat conditions that support that practice.  The model integrates scientific research with real world “place-based” evidence we can observe and experience.  G-WOW curriculum uses traditional lifeways of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, a culture with a long relationship with the environment, to demonstrate place-based evidence of climate change.  Ojibwe language, traditional ecological knowledge, and cultural components are integrated. The project’s service learning approach promotes community level action to mitigate or adapt to a changing climate, no matter your location or culture.

We welcome you to adapt the G-WOW model to help your community understand more about climate change and what can be done about it.  Do culture and science agree that climate change is real?  You be the judge!

NEW:  Climate Strong” Climate Leadership Program 

The new Climate Strong! initiative uses the G-WOW climate literacy framework for the professional development training institutes, youth training opportunities, and climate change community events.  Please click here to jump to the Climate Strong! webpage for more details.

G-WOW Climate Change Curriculum    www.g-wow.org 

Click here to enter the G-WOW portal

Four seasonal curriculum units, with a new unit on climate change and water, engage middle school to adult learners in applying scientific research with place-based investigations to determine how climate change is affecting traditional Ojibwe lifeways as an indicator of climate change is affecting all of us.  The G-WOW curriculum guides learners to investigate climate change within their culture, take action on climate change, and share the results with others.  Because the G-WOW climate change literacy model is based on investigating the sustainability of key plant and animals that cultural practices rely on, it is transferable other cultures and locations. The G-WOW website features  lesson plans, climate change resources, program data bases, visual resources, games, and more. New features include:

How effective is the G-WOW model in increasing educators skills and confidence in teaching about climate change? How user friendly is the model in different communities and cultures? View a power point presentation evaluating the effectiveness of the G-WOW Model  conducted by Patty Carpenter-University of Minnesota-Duluth Master of Education candidate.

Interested in creating your own climate change institute based on the G-WOW climate literacy model?  Click here to view the “Changing Climate, Changing Culture… Planning a Climate Change Institute Based on the G-WOW Model” video.

G-WOW Climate “Camps” and School Programs for Middle-High School Youth

Create a customized climate change learning experience for middle school and above students range from indoor experiences at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI to “hands on” outdoor field activities at the Center, on the Apostle Islands, or within the Bad River Watershed and the area’s Tribal communities. Partial day to multiple day programs can be arranged with advanced reservations.

Guided or self-guided indoor programs are available featuring the Center’s 200 sq. ft. interactive G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture exhibit and dynamic 32-inch touch screen kiosk. Contact Cathy Techtmann, cathy.techtmann@wisc.edu for reservations.

G-WOW Professional Development Training & Field CoursesG-WOW Initiative Program Photo

G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture professional development training and customized field courses or college level to adult participants.   Training is based on the G-WOW model and integrates place-based climate investigations with science, plus provides resources for developing community-based climate service learning projects. Field courses are based at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI and feature climate investigations within the Chequamegon Bay region, tribal communities, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Professional development presentations can be arranged for workshops and conferences. Check out our Ecology and Culture Field Courses to get an idea of what your group can learn.

Archive of Past G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture Institutes

Browse the 2012-2016 G-WOW Archives to see what we learned. Check out the 2016  “G-WOW Hear the Water’s Voice” Institute provided climate change professional development training to 28 classroom and informal community educators, including 5 Canadian First Nations tribal elders focused on water and climate change.  Read more here.


Kudos for G-WOW

2018:  G-WOW Climate Literacy Initiative presented at the 5th Annual Rising Voices Indigenous Climate Conference, Wisconsin Science Festival, UW-Madison Life Sciences class, North Central Tribal Water Summit, and the New York Academy of Science’s “Science Denial” conference.

2017: G-WOW Climate Literacy Initiative presented at Wisconsin Science Festival, Minnesota Outdoor Educators Conference, Will Steger Summer Climate Institute, Nicolet College’s “critical conversations” adult learning program

The G-WOW  Climate Literacy Initiative was featured in the North American Lake Management’s LakeLines magazine. Read more @  G-WOW LakeLines Article-Fall 2015

G-WOW presentation was featured at the 2015 Rising Voices Conference “Bringing Together Science and Indigenous Ways of Knowing to Create Positive Solutions”. Rising Voices 3 Indigenous Climate Conference Highlights 

The G-WOW Project received the prestigious 2012-13 Honor Award from the Eastern Region of the US Forest Service in the category of “Courageous Conservation.” G-WOW Team members receiving the award (left to right) are Jason Maloney-US Forest Service, Sue Erickson and Jim St. Arnold-Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Neil Howk-Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and Cathy Techtmann-UW Extension.

G-WOW Team Receives USFS Honor Award

For more information about the G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture Initiative or assistance in adapting the model in your community, please contact Cathy Techtmann-Environmental Outreach State Specialist at cathy.techtmann@wisc.edu or call 715.561.2695.


The G-WOW Initiative is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest-US Forest Service, and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore-National Park Service

With funding through the WI Coastal Management Program, NOAA, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NASA, and the National Parks Foundation. With assistance from the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science-USDA Forest Service, and many others!