Great Lakes Student Summit 2008

Seventh Biennial Event a Great Success

COSEE Great Lakes was pleased to help sponsor the seventh biennial Great Lakes Student Summit. The Student Summit brought over 260 students, volunteers and teachers together in Buffalo, New York, on May 14 – 15, 2008. The "student-scientists" came from New York, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, Canada, to learn about the Great Lakes and share their research and environmental concerns. The theme for 2008, "Recycle, Recover, Restore," encouraged these "student-scientists" to look at restoration and recovery efforts around the Great Lakes, embrace recycling programs and take other steps to preserve valuable natural resources.

During the event the "student-scientists" were involved in workshops, field experiences and sharing sessions. They learned from agency representatives, other outside experts and each other about the Great Lakes and environmental topics. Following the COSEE Great Lakes goal of linking educators and students with working scientists, the GLSS featured interactions with biologists, geologists and ecologists through workshops and tours of the Buffalo Museum of Science. On the first day, students made presentations, showed off displays of their research and stewardship activities and took part in hands-on workshops.

The second day was filled with field experiences including a trip to Niagara Falls, the NY Power Authority’s Power Vista and a visit to the Aquarium of Niagara that brought them eye-to-eye with Great Lakes fishes like sturgeon, trout and salmon. In the afternoon, the students boarded a ship for a cruise along the Buffalo River and Lake Erie. The highlight of the cruise was a visit from the electro-shocking boat from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The fishery biologists provided living proof of the diversity under the water. Students were amazed by the catch of bass, catfish, suckers, and a large common carp, an invasive fish that the students had learned about.

The most memorable experience of the entire event was the creation and delivery of their Statement of Stewardship or "S.O.S." This statement was officially presented by students to a panel of representatives from local, state and U.S. and Canadian federal governments. The commitment and determination that the statement represented impressed the distinguished panel. The "S.O.S." expresses the feelings of the students and reflects their genuine concern for the Great Lakes.

Helen Domske, the Lake Ontario leader for COSEE GL and a Coastal Education Specialist with NY Sea Grant, has been part of the planning teams and has served as a co-host and workshop presenter for each of the seven events. According to Domske, "Every GLSS gets better and better. I am truly amazed by the knowledge, interest and environmental savvy of these "student-scientists." They are the best and brightest, and they will go on to be formidable stewards of the Great Lakes."

When the closing ceremony was over, many students joined in a beach clean-up, demonstrating their stewardship efforts for the Great Lakes. Teachers, event organizers and government representatives left knowing that the next generation is prepared to take over where they leave off and will continue to work to keep the lakes GREAT!