Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) staff have been extra busy lately helping southern Lake Michigan communities and other Great Lakes communities address coastal issues through research, outreach and education, and their work has not gone unnoticed. Sea Granters working on pollution prevention, social science and communication have received three awards recognizing their excellence in bringing the latest science to those who can best use the information, empowering people to solve problems in sustainable ways.
Early Career Award
As part of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network meeting, Sarah Zack was distinguished as recipient of the 2019 Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Early Career Award, presented in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan in September. Zack holds a dual role in pollution prevention, working for both Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and University of Illinois Extension. Since taking on the position of pollution prevention specialist in 2016, she has participated in nearly 60 outreach or education events, reaching nearly 5,000 Great Lakes residents and decision makers, scientists, veterinary professionals and students with the pollution prevention message.
“I was honored to be nominated for the award by my program administration, and shocked and grateful when I won, because I work with so many amazing, effective Sea Grant staff from programs around the Great Lakes,” said Zack. “It feels really good to be recognized, but it’s definitely the strength of my partners that make what we do so fun and meaningful. I couldn’t do it alone!”
The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant medicine collection program hit its 10-year anniversary in 2018 under Zack’s leadership. During that time, over 118 tons—or 236,000 pounds—of medicine have been collected through community collection programs supported by IISG. Since 2016, seven new permanent programs have been established, bringing the total of engaged communities to 54.
Since 2017, Zack has also played a critical role in organizing the annual Emerging Contaminants in the Environment Conference, cohosted by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. It has grown from a one-day conference in 2016, with about 60 attendees, 15 presentations and 11 posters, to a two-day conference with over 100 attendees, 32 presentations, 15 posters and an expert discussion panel in 2019.
The Great Lakes Sea Grant Network (GLSGN) awards are organized and given by the GLSGN program leaders to recognize individual Sea Grant professionals who have shown noteworthy enthusiasm, performance, accomplishments and impact during their Sea Grant careers. Great Lakes Sea Grant individual achievement awards are the only Great Lakes Sea Grant-sponsored awards to recognize individual accomplishments during Sea Grant careers. Recipients of the GLSGN Early Career Award have worked for Sea Grant less than seven years at the time of the award.
Silver Medal for Superior Service
As part of the Zephyr Great Lakes Remediation Team, Caitie Nigrelli won a 2018 Silver Medal for Superior Service Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, presented at the U.S. EPA National Honor Awards in Washington, D.C. in July. This Great Lakes Legacy Act team successfully remediated the wetlands below the former Zephyr Oil Refinery in Michigan. The team was successful in remediating legacy contamination and restoring native habitat within this Great Lakes Area of Concern (AOC), and contributing to the future removal of BUIs within the AOC.
The team was honored for exemplary problem-solving and project management to successfully remediate an extremely toxic contaminated sediment site under extreme pressure and tight timelines. They also won the Western Dredging Association 2019 Environmental Excellence Award, presented in Chicago in June.
Nigrelli works for University of Illinois Extension and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.
Every year, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant publishes the ways in which the program has impacted communities and the region through long-term projects addressing critical coastal issues. The impacts booklet published last year, Impacts 2017: Two Great States Caring for One Great Lake, has won a 2019 APEX Award of Excellence in the category of 1-2 Person-Produced Annual Reports. IISG’s strategic communicator, Irene Miles, and graphic designer, Joel Davenport, produced the booklet together.
“This is a well-deserved award and is evidence of how hard-working, dedicated, and excellent our communications team is,” said Stuart Carlton, IISG’s assistant director. “It’s also evidence of the strong impact that Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant has had in the area, helping people use science to live a more resilient life.”
APEX awards are based on distinction in graphic design, editorial content and the ability to achieve overall communications excellence. The awards are given each year by Communication Concepts to recognize outstanding publication work in a variety of fields.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension.
Writer: Hope Charters, 765.494.1614, firstname.lastname@example.org