Sea Grant celebrates 50 years of education

January 13th, 2017 by

For the month of January, the Sea Grant 50th is focusing on K to Gray education—yes, that includes everyone—and within IISG there is no shortage of resources for all ages.

Terri Hallesy who has been with the IISG education team for 13 years has seen teaching trends change over the years, but in the end, she knows it’s really very simple.

“I just enjoy working with all the dynamic, engaging specialists,” Hallesy says. “They each focus on diverse programs and target different audiences. What’s great is they’re always ready to collaborate using the latest and most relevant educational tools.”

Below we are highlighting five of the projects the education team has produced—in collaboration with specialists, other Sea Grants, as well as educators—that capture that cooperative spirit.

Nab the Aquatic Invader!
Launched in 2009, this website focuses on the suspects–aka the invasive species–in four regions of the country: Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Great Lakes. In each region, visitors can see read interrogation interviews with the 10 Most Wanted AIS and learn their origin, problems they cause, and some control methods used to slow the spread of these species. The project was featured in the Smithsonian in 2010.

Collaborators included New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Sea Grants.




The_Medicine_Chest_COVER-246x300_stroke_1The Medicine Chest

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s (IISG), The Medicine Chest, invites high school students to metaphorically open up those doors and investigate what makes those chemicals harmful to people, pets, and the environment when improperly disposed. The curriculum was updated last year.

Collaborators included Pennsylvania Sea Grant, U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, and Paul Ritter and Eric Bohm, P2D2 Program Administrators.




Sensible Disposal of Unwanted MedicinesSensible_Disposal_Unwanted_Meds
When medications are flushed down the toilet, wastewater treatment plants can’t always filter out the harmful chemicals that can affect wildlife and even get into drinking water supplies. This 4-H guidebook and curriculum, designed for informal education audiences, provides five inquiry-based lessons to help high school youth understand the harmful effects of improper disposal of medicines and what they can do to help.

Collaborators included 4-H and Penn High School, Mishawaka, Indiana.



FreshSaltCurriculum-1_strokeFresh and Salt
Fresh and Salt is a collection of activities that enhance teacher capabilities to connect Great Lakes and ocean science topics. Designed to be used by teachers in grades 5-10, this curriculum provides an interdisciplinary approach to ensure that students achieve optimum science understanding of both Great Lakes and Ocean Literacy Principles.

Collaborators included Centers for Ocean Science Education Excellence and Ashland University.




Lake_Michigan_by_the_NumbersLake Michigan by the Numbers
This curriculum was created by teachers who attended a day-long workshop to learn how to incorporate buoy data into their classroom instruction. They created these data-rich, STEM-based lesson plans that boost understanding of Great Lakes issues by incorporating real-time data from Great Lakes buoys.

Collaborators included Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lake Michigan Coastal Program, and Center for Great Lakes Literacy.




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

P2D2 students have global impact on medicine disposal

April 6th, 2016 by

The Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in the Environment conference at the I Hotel in Champaign, Illinois on Monday welcomed dozens of researchers, officials, academics, and high school students. The 10 students from Pontiac High School in Illinois understood very well the hazards PPCPs pose to the health of people and the environment.

That’s not at all surprising because they are part of the P2D2 (Pontiac Prescription Drug Disposal) program created by their teacher 45-year-old Paul Ritter who’s been teaching for 22 years. Ritter developed the program nine years ago after failing to come up with an answer to his wife’s question about what to do with some unwanted medication they had in their home.

The purpose of P2D2 is to provide communities with a proper method of pharmaceutical disposal that effectively reduces the misuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals as well as improves water quality.

Since 2007 Ritter can boast the program’s success not just in the United States, but in six additional countries. Millions of pounds have of medicine have been properly disposed of and laws have been enacted to prevent medications from getting into the environment and into the wrong hands through the use of P2D2.

“My students help perpetuate the national model—they established the national model,” Ritter declared at the conference.

Senior Jacob Jiles who took the class with Ritter just to get another science credit knows he got much more out of the experience than he was expecting.

“Cumulatively with the program we’ve eradicated 3 million pounds of pharmaceuticals, so that means 3 million pounds that have been taken out of the streets and or the water system,” Jiles said.

“That’s kind of reassuring that we’ve done that.”

IISG in conjunction with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center organized the conference with funding from University of Illinois Extension.

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