Accepting applications for new IISG Faculty Scholars Program

January 15th, 2019 by

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program (IISG) Faculty Scholars Program is a professional networking and development opportunity to support faculty from institutes of higher learning in Illinois and Indiana who wish to develop extension, education or communication capacities related to their scholarly interests. Applicants can request up to $12,000 to support activities that further the IISG mission to empower southern Lake Michigan communities to secure a healthy environment and economy.

The Sea Grant Scholars Program consists of a program introduction phase and a proposal development phase. Specific deliverables include a preliminary product, such as a literature review or needs assessment, and a fully developed proposal to submit to an external funding agency. Funding to support scholar activities will last one year starting May 1, 2019. Scholars will be expected to participate in networking activities with IISG staff and stakeholders throughout their tenure.

View the full request for applications. Applications should be emailed to by 6:00 p.m. EST on February 22, 2019​.

If you have questions about the Faculty Scholars Program, please contact IISG Research Coordinator Carolyn Foley (

We encourage faculty members from all disciplines to apply. IISG is committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. View the full IISG values statement.​

Illinois’ ocean may provide the means for a fresh and locally-raised seafood market

July 25th, 2017 by

While Illinois sits along one of the world’s largest freshwater resources, an ocean is closer than you might think. Look down. About 540 million years ago, the state was situated at the equator and was the site of an ancient sea. As land shifted over time, this saltwater became trapped in aquifers that still exist underground today.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant-funded researchers, thinking outside the box, wondered if this buried saltwater might play a role in producing seafood in the region. Their study revealed that Illinois may in fact, be an environmentally-sustainable and economically-viable location for production of marine fish. They focused on striped bass, a popular and adaptable fish that can be grown in a range of salinities.

Currently, the U.S. imports 86 percent of its seafood leading to a $10 billion trade deficit. “It is not surprising that interest in commercial aquaculture production in the marine environment has increased,” said Srirupa Ganguly, an engineer from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). She was joined in this project by Nandakishore Rajagopalan, also at ISTC, and Kwamena Quagrainie, IISG’s aquaculture marketing specialist, located at Purdue University.

The team assessed the competitive advantages of raising this fish in the Midwest using local saline water resources. These sources include saline aquifers, with much of this water brought to the surface regularly in oil and gas drilling, but also water generated from coal processing and other industries.

“It’s clear that Illinois has considerable quantities of saline water available to support the needs of a marine aquaculture industry,” said Rajagopalan. “The cost of obtaining these waters will depend on accessibility.”

Depending on the source of the saline water, it may come with additional contaminants and need treatment for use in aquaculture. But, does this water provide a suitable environment for raising striped bass? The researchers measured growth, weight gain, and other characteristics of striped bass grown in pre-treated saline aquifer water.

“Our preliminary study revealed that fish farmers could substitute potable surface water for saline groundwater for the culture of saltwater species like striped bass,” said Ganguly.

Finally, to assess the viability question from all sides, the researchers looked at what motivates consumers as they shop for seafood and their willingness to pay more for locally-raised fish.

“Our survey found that when it comes to decisions about purchasing seafood, freshness is key, so consumer are willing to pay $6.00 or more per pound for striped bass produced in the Midwest,” said Quagrainie. “There is also considerable interest in the culture of shrimp, and other marine species that are more profitable in the marketplace.”

You can read Quagrainie’s article on consumers’ willingness to pay for saline fish species raised in the Midwest in World Aquaculture Society.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is a part of University of Illinois Extension and Purdue University Extension.

Clean Boat Crew connected with record number of boaters

September 9th, 2015 by

With the boating season winding down for the year, Clean Boat Crew (CBC) volunteers and site leaders can take a deep breath knowing they engaged a record number of boaters, anglers, and other water recreationists this year to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS).

The CBC reached 4,431 water-lovers — 25 percent more than last year’s all-time high of 3,519 — at boat ramps and docks in 10 locations in Illinois and Indiana. The crews were out from Memorial Day weekend to August 9.

The program in its fifth year continued to educate about ways to prevent the transfer of AIS from one waterbody to another through simple cleaning techniques outlined in the Be a Hero – TransportZero™ campaign:
  • Remove plants, animals, and mud from all equipment
  • Drain all water from your boat and gear
  • Dry everything thoroughly with a towel

The crews distributed 8,000 pieces of outreach materials not only at busy marinas, but at several summer events: Gary’s Clean Water Days Festival, the Big Bass Bash, Hammond Marina’s Venetian Night, the Geoffrey Morris Memorial Fishing Tournament at North Point Marina, and Harbor Days at North Point Marina.

“The program continues to be well-received by the public, and more and more people recognize the message.  But there’s still a lot of curiosity about it, which leads me to conclude that there’s still work to be done,” said Sarah Zack, an IISG organizer of the program.


Species spotlight: Grass carp

May 14th, 2015 by

INVASIVE SPECIES EDITION—Where we take a moment to explore the species that threaten the Great Lakes region.


They may not be what comes to mind when you think of invasive carp, but grass carp can have drastic and lasting impacts on aquatic ecosystems and water quality. Originally from eastern Asia, they have been introduced the world over as a biocontrol for aquatic weeds and can now be found in over 70 countries. 

This wide range is made possible by their versatility—not unlike the hydrilla they are sometimes employed to eliminate. Grass carp can live in water temperatures from below freezing to over 100ºF, can survive in brackish waters, and are able to tolerate low-oxygen environments. 

While they live mostly in slow moving and still waters, eggs are spawned in fast rivers, and must remain suspended for two to four days before they hatch. From there, grass carp grow quickly—as much as 10 inches in the first three months. An adult can grow to be upwards of 4 feet in length and more than 50 pounds on a diet of mostly aquatic weeds. But they have also been known to consume detritus, insects, and other invertebrates as well.  
Grass carp were first brought to the U.S. in 1963 when they were imported from Malaysia and Thailand to aquaculture facilities in Alabama and Arkansas. Their first release into the wild is believed to have happened three years later when some escaped from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Fish Farming Experimental Station in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Planned introductions began in 1969 in an effort to control nuisance plants. By the end of the 1970s, grass carp had been introduced in 40 states. Today it can be found in 45 states, with well-established populations throughout the Mississippi River Basin.
Grass carp are a highly regulated species, and for good reason. Because they are so adept at consuming plants, there is a risk that these veritable aquatic lawnmowers might leave a waterbody completely devoid of plant life and wipe out the food supply for other fish, insects, and waterfowl. A lack of plant life can also spur on algal blooms, which in turn lower oxygen levels. And without roots to keep sediment secure, the water is likely to become muddied, and spawning beds for other fish can be destroyed. 
Because of these and other risks, grass carp used for weed control are sterilized by shocking the eggs with drastic changes in either temperature or pressure. But this process is not 100 percent effective, and fish sometimes escape into the wild. In some states, including Illinois, the use of grass carp is restricted to private ponds or pools. Those thinking about using the fish for personal use are encouraged to explore other weed-control options.  

The fight against invasive species moves to Wonder Lake

April 27th, 2015 by
The Wonder Lake Master Property Owners Association is reminding boaters, anglers, and water skiers to remove, drain, and dry after a day on the water to prevent the spread of invasive species. These Be a Hero—Transport Zero™ steps can now be found at 14 boat ramps around the Illinois private lake.
The signs were installed during the annual spring cleanup, one of many events hosted by the Wonder Lake Sportsman’s Club. And it’s just the latest effort designed to raise awareness of aquatic invasive species and how they spread.
The recent surge of outreach at Wonder Lake is largely driven by concern over invasive plants like Phragmites, a species that’s spreading quickly across the Great Lakes region. Plant life along the lakeshore is limited now, but an ongoing dredging project is expected to change that. 

Randy Stowe, the lake manager, wants to make sure that the species that move in don’t pose a threat to habitats and recreation.
“We’ll be reaching out to those who own the land along the lake to educate them about invasive plants—how to recognize them, and what to do if you find one,” said Stowe. “We’re really trying to stay ahead of things.” 
Learn more about how you can fight the spread of invasive species at

***Photo credit: Wonder Lake Sportsman’s Club 

2014 best year yet for clean boating programs

October 28th, 2014 by
With the end of Chicago’s boating season right around the corner, we thought this would be a good time look back at this year’s progress making boating and harbor activities more environmentally friendly.

The Illinois Clean Marina Program launched last year with one certified marina, 31st Street Harbor. This year, five new harbors joined the ranks by implementing a series of best management practices, bringing the state total to six in just its first year. Two more, North Point Marina and Diversey Harbor have also pledged to implement these same practices.

Clean boating includes preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). It was a banner year for Clean Boats Crew, an outreach effort that gives boaters, anglers, and others the information they need to stop the spread of AIS. During its four-year tenure, the volunteer program has spread the word about AIS prevention to more than 8,000 recreational water users in Illinois and Indiana, with more than 3,500 people reached this year alone.
The idea behind Clean Boats Crew is simple. Volunteers visit boat ramps and docks during the height of the boating season to talk with boaters, anglers, and other recreational water users about AIS and to demonstrate cleaning techniques that can help stop their spread. This year, site leaders and volunteers were onsite at Chicago’s Burnham and Diversey harbors, as well as Illinois’s Chain O’ Lakes and North Point Marina and Indiana’s East Chicago and Portage marinas.
In Illinois, site leaders and volunteers introduced water users to three simple steps at the heart of the prevention campaign Be a Hero – Transport Zero™:


–Remove plants, animals, and mud from all equipment
–Drain all water from your boat and gear
–Dry everything thoroughly with a towel

With the season over, IISG and the Northeast Illinois Invasive Plant Partnership, co-organizers of the Clean Boats Crew program, have turned their sights to next year and are looking for others to join the effort. 

Center for Great Lakes Literacy recognizes Illinois teacher

June 17th, 2014 by
The efforts of an Illinois teacher to bring Great Lakes science into the classroom were brought center stage in the latest edition of Teacher Features, a monthly online series that showcases outstanding educators in the Great Lakes region. 
Eileen DeJong, a teacher at Suak Village’s Rickover Junior High, is one of 14 teachers from Illinois and Indiana who learned about local aquatic ecosystems and ideas for hands-on stewardship activities at last summer’s B-WET workshop. In this edition, she talks about the importance of raising awareness of Great Lakes issues, past classroom projects, and her plans for the future. 
From Teacher Features
1. Why do you think it’s important to infuse Great Lakes topics in education?
I think it’s important that I incorporate information about our Great Lakes into my teaching because our school is impacted in many ways by one of the Great Lakes (Lake Michigan). Students respond to information that makes sense to them and that affects their life, and because Lake Michigan is so close to us (within 45 minutes); it’s a great way to get students involved in current environmental issues. We can study about aquatic invasive species affecting Lake Michigan and then GO TO Indiana Dunes, for example, and conduct experiments there. Or … even closer to home, we can study about invasive species harming our local forests, and then GO TO nearby forest preserves and volunteer. It’s all about making connections. Studying the Great Lakes topics make science REAL for my students and helps foster natural curiosity about their surroundings. It is also important because the problem of invasive species is a current environmental issue, and it’s happening in our own backyard. It encourages my students to become knowledgeable about factors affecting their living environment and to become activists for change.
Continue reading at the link above.  
Teacher Features is part of the Center for Great Lakes Literacy’s (CGLL) ongoing efforts to boost awareness of issues facing the Great Lakes watershed and inspire greater community stewardship. The group is led by Sea Grant educators throughout the region and conducts numerous teacher trainings each year, including the annual Shipboard Science workshop.   

Illinois Clean Marina Program celebrates one year and six marinas

June 13th, 2014 by
The Illinois Clean Marina Program celebrated its one year anniversary last month by certifying DuSable Harbor as the newest clean marina—bringing the state total to six.
The harbors earned their clean marina status by implementing a series of best management practices that make marina operations more efficient and environmentally friendly. Practices cover a range of topics—everything from marina construction to vessel maintenance to waste handling. Most are easy and affordable, such as watering plants deeply but infrequently and encouraging boaters to share excess paint instead of storing or disposing of it improperly. Others help marina personnel educate and train boaters on what they can do to protect habitats and improve water quality.  
Two more marinas, North Point Marina and Diversey Harbor, have also pledged to implement these same practices. To do so, they will rely on the Illinois Clean Marina Guidebook developed by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, along with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and the Chicago Park District (CPD).
In addition to outlining best practices, the guidebook provides important information on laws and permit programs, connects readers with additional resources, and includes clean boating tip sheets that can be distributed to boaters. Illinois DNR also provides training and support as marinas work their way through the certification processes.  
Illinois is one of six states in the Great Lakes region with a volunteer program that empowers boaters and marina personnel to preserve habitats and prevent pollution.  The Illinois program was developed by IDNR, CPD, IISG, and representatives from the marina industry. Funding for the program and guidebook comes from a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant.

IISG aquatic invasive species coordinator among ISAM award winners

June 4th, 2014 by
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Pat Charlebois was one of the professionals selected for this year’s ISAM awards. Recognizing outstanding invasive species work in the state of Illinois, the awards are an annual opportunity to highlight just some of the many important projects dedicated to protecting Illinois’ land and water from invasives. 
“In 2011, the ISAM committee decided to initiate an awards program to formally recognize and honor outstanding contributions to the prevention, control, and management of invasive species in the state of Illinois. For 2014, The Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month Committee would like to recognize recipients in five categories: Professional of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Professional Organization of the Year, Business of the Year, and Educator of the Year. Recipients of the 2014 ISAM awards were officially recognized at an awards ceremony in Springfield at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) office. IDNR Office of Resource Conservation Director Jim Herkert was on hand to present the awards. The ceremony was part of the 2014 Illinois Invasive Species Symposium on May 29th, 2014 at the IDNR Office Building in Springfield, IL… 

Pat is receiving this award for her leadership in aquatic invasive species education, outreach, messaging, and policy throughout the state. Pat’s hard work has contributed significantly to increasing the public’s awareness of aquatic invasive species. Through her efforts, the new ‘Be a Hero, Transport Zero’ campaign is being expanded towards a comprehensive campaign to address all invasive species spread throughout Illinois. In addition, Pat has been instrumental in supporting policy changes, such as the addition of 27 new aquatic plants to the Illinois Injurious Species list.”

Read about the other award recipients and their work protecting Illinois’ environment at the link above.
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