2024 Shipboard Science Workshop on Lake Erie
Great Lakes Coastal Youth Education - Press Release

EPA RV Lake Guardian. Credit: Michael Milligan

Two Western NY Teachers Selected for Shipboard Science Workshop on EPA Research Vessel Lake Guardian on Lake Erie


Nate Drag, NYSG Great Lakes Literacy Specialist, P: 716-270-2408, 716-673-6612 (mobile), E: nwd4@cornell.edu

Kristen TePas, Center for Great Lakes Literacy and Shipboard Science Workshops Coordinator for all Great Lakes, E: ktepas@illinois.edu

Kara Lynn Dunn, NYSG Great Lakes Publicist, P: 315-465-7578, E: karalynn@gisco.net

Buffalo, NY, June 27, 2024 - New York Sea Grant has announced that two teachers from Western New York are among 15 teachers selected to join Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL) staff and Great Lakes scientists for the 2024 Shipboard Science Workshop aboard the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Research Vessel (R/V) Lake Guardian on Lake Erie this summer.

The workshop is July 7-13, 2024 and will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Pamela Patterson, who teaches in the Holland Central School District, Holland, NY, and at the State University of New York (SUNY) Erie; and Jessica Kauffman, a Science Professional Development Coordinator working with K-12 teachers in the 20 school districts in Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

Through a partnership with the EPA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the teachers will spend a full week aboard the R/V Lake Guardian. Hosts for the Lake Erie Shipboard Science Workshop are CGLL partners Ohio Sea Grant and Pennsylvania Sea Grant.

Pamela Patterson, who teachers at Holland High School and SUNY Erie, has been selected for the 2024 Shipboard Science Workshop on Lake Erie aboard the EPA Research Vessel Lake Guardian. She is seen here releasing baby trout raised by her students from eggs into a local creek. Credit: Pamela Patterson

Pamela Patterson teachers Living Environment and Applied Science at Holland Central High School and Advanced Studies in Environmental Science at SUNY Erie. Her teaching facilities include a classroom, lab, and hydroponic tower grow room. Students use digital and wet chemistry scientific equipment to study the surrounding schoolyard ecosystem, a local creek (hydrology studies), and Holland Central School's small forest.

"I am interested in working with, and especially learning from, the scientists and experts onboard in this immersive experience on Lake Erie. I incorporate the ecology of Lake Erie into all of my classes, and will enrich my existing Lake Erie curriculum with authentic science experiences I expect to learn on the Lake Guardian," Patterson said.

Jessica Kauffman, a Science Professional Development Coordinator with Erie 1 BOCES, is one of two teachers from Western New York selected for the 2024 Shipboard Science Workshop aboard the EPA R/V Lake Guardian. Kauffman is holding a sign identifying her as a Niagara River Lake Erie Watershed Program educator. Credit: Jessica Kauffman

Jessica Kauffman brings 20 years' experience teaching science in urban schools in Syracuse and Buffalo to her recently-new role as a Science Professional Development Coordinator with Erie 1 BOCES, based in West Seneca, New York. She works with K-12 teachers in 20 school districts in western New York to develop science curriculum, units, and lesson plans, and provides science-specific professional development to the districts' teams of science teachers as well as science consortiums for teachers to work together and to implement project-based learning units.

"I am excited about the science and the people I will have the opportunity to engage with through the Shipboard Science Workshop. I believe this unique experience will propel the vision I have for supporting teachers to create and sustain curricula and fieldwork that contributes to Great Lakes literacy and environmental justice initiatives and engagement," Kauffman said. 

Teacher Will Work Alongside Great Lakes Scientists

Patterson and Kauffman were selected from among 115 applicants for the unique professional development experience to learn side-by-side with respected Great Lakes scientists. They will convert their shipboard experiences into classroom and fieldwork lessons for their students and colleagues.

The teachers will work alongside Sherri Mason, Ph.D., a pioneer in freshwater plastics research; Dominique Derminio, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology at Keuka College, Keuka Park, NY, leading phytoplankton research aboard the Lake Guardian; and Megan O'Brien, a scientist with the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office, Chicago, IL, studying benthic (bottom-dwelling) organisms.

Other research taking place on the Lake Guardian in 2024 includes water quality monitoring and surveying associated with dissolved oxygen, sediment, and contaminants in the lower food web.

New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Literacy Specialist Nate Drag, who led the Shipboard Science Workshop on Lake Ontario in 2023, comments on the far-reaching value of the Shipboard Science Workshop as it builds on teachers' interest in the Great Lakes environment and provides hands-on experiences, knowledge gain, and skill development for integration into classroom and fieldwork lessons.

"The value of this unique experience extends from the participants' enhanced science-based understanding of the Great Lakes to the information they share with students and colleagues to encourage environmental stewardship of the Great Lakes and its watershed communities by the next generations of environmental scientists, teachers, and conservationists," said Drag. 

Drag provides Great Lakes-focused professional development opportunities to teachers throughout New York State. He will be offering land-based workshops for teachers in July and August 2024; learn more at NYSG's 2024 Great Lakes Ecosystem Workshops for Teachers and Educators.

The Shipboard Science Workshop cycles through the Great Lakes on a five-year rotation and is designed to promote Great Lakes science while forging lasting relationships between Great Lakes researchers and educators. CGLL is a collaborative effort led by Sea Grant educators throughout the U.S. Great Lakes watershed. CGLL fosters informed and responsible decisions that advance basin-wide stewardship by providing hands-on experiences, educational resources, and networking opportunities promoting Great Lakes literacy among an engaged community of educators, scientists, and youth.

The Shipboard Science Workshop will return to New York's Lake Ontario in 2028, to Lake Erie in 2029. Learn more at cgll.org/education/professional-learning/r-v-lake-guardian.

More Info: 2024 Lake Guardian Scientists 

Dr. Sherri Mason: As a Professor of Chemistry at SUNY Fredonia, Dr. Mason was among the first scientists to study the prevalence and impact of microplastics in freshwater ecosystems. Her research on Lake Erie helped form the basis of the federal Microbeads-Free Water Act enacted in 2015. In 2017, she served with a marine environmental protection working group advising the United Nations on plastic pollution. Dr. Mason is a Great Lakes Protection Fund Award winner.

Dr. Dominique Derminio: Dr. Derminio will lead phytoplankton research aboard the Lake Guardian in 2024. While earning her Ph.D. in biochemistry at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Dr. Derminio worked with nationally respected harmful algal bloom researcher Dr. Gregory Boyer. Derminio and Boyer conducted phytoplankton research aboard the Lake Guardian on Lake Ontario in 2018 and 2023. Dr. Derminio was awarded a Promoting Active Learning and Mentoring Fellowship from the National Science Foundation in 2021. 

Megan O’Brien:  Megan O’Brien is a physical scientist with the EPA Great Lakes National Program Office in the Science, Evaluation, Monitoring, and Reporting section, working on the long-term monitoring of the Great Lakes, Green Infrastructure, and education/outreach focus areas. She has expertise in design of habitat restoration, benthic macroinvertebrates, water quality, and molecular biology laboratory research.

More Info: Erie 1 BOCES School Districts

The school districts served by ERIE BOCES 1 are Akron, Alden, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Cheektowaga-Sloan, Clarence, Cleveland Hill, Depew, Frontier, Grand Island, Hamburg, Kenmore, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Maryvale, Sweet Home, Tonawanda, West Seneca, and Williamsville.

More Info: 2024 Shipboard Science Workshop Class by Affiliation and State

NY: 2 teachers - Holland Central School, Holland, and SUNY Erie; Erie 1 BOCES, West Seneca

IL: 2 – Waukegan High School District 60, Waukegan; Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

IN: 1 – Angola Middle School and MSD of Steuben County, Angola, IN

MI: 2 – Huron-Clinton Metro Parks, New Boston; Notre Dame Preparatory, Pontiac

OH: 5 – Hull Prairie Intermediate School, Toledo; Imagination Station, Toledo; Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association and Killbuck Watershed Land Trust, Cleveland; Pickerington North High School, Pickerington; University of Akron Field Station: Cleveland and Akron

PA: 3 - Asbury Woods, Erie; Franklinville Regional School District, Murrysville; PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Landenbury

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County on Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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