Coalition led by Eastern Michigan University professor receives grant to boost environmental education and stewardship efforts across the region

A group of students testing water on Belle Isle in Detroit on a cloudy spring day.
A group of students practice water quality testing at Belle Isle in Detroit in 2022. (Photos by Leisa Thompson for SEMIS)

YPSILANTI—The Southeast Michigan Stewardship (SEMIS) Coalition, led by Eastern Michigan University professor Ethan Lowenstein, received a competitive grant for $160K from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bay Watershed Education and Training program.

Student holds water testing equipment on Belle Isle
A student holds a test tube demonstrating water testing at the 2022 SEMIS Coalition Community Forum.

SEMIS is one of seven environmental education projects throughout the Great Lakes basin to receive a grant to enhance environmental education through Place-Based Education.

"We are incredibly grateful to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for selecting SEMIS Coalition as a recipient of this two-year Great Lakes Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) program grant," said Ethan Lowenstein, director of SEMIS Coalition. "The funding will allow us to expand our environmental education programs and empower young people to become active stewards of our local environment. We’re excited to work with our partners and the community to inspire a lifelong passion for environmental sustainability, and we’re proud to be one of only three organizations selected for this grant in Michigan."

The funded project “Coalition Connections: Building Watershed and Climate Literacy Through Place-Based Explorations” will expand upon this foundation of work in Place-Based Stewardship Education. Focusing on watershed issues, this project will organize a compelling teacher-professional learning sequence for the summers of 2023 and 2024 and the 2023-25 school years. It will support a learning framework, Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences focusing on community resilience in the school and surrounding neighborhood environments. 

Additionally, the project will support elementary and middle school teachers, their students, and their community partners in developing and implementing experiences linked to stormwater management, watershed health, and community responses to the effects of climate change. SEMIS Coalition professional learning and Meaningful Watershed Educational Experiences will also support teacher and student civic engagement focused on empowering youth to act on environmental hazards facing their communities.

The SEMIS Coalition is an alliance of educators, community organizations, and environmental professionals dedicated to fostering environmental literacy and stewardship in Southeast Michigan. The coalition was formed in 2008 and is a regional hub of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative. Its local home is Engage@EMU and EMU's College of Education. With the help of these entities, SEMIS has been actively engaged in providing transformative education experiences to students through an Ecojustice Education framework, cultivating their understanding of and appreciation for the natural world. 

To learn more about the SEMIS Coalition, visit To learn more about the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative, visit

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Bay Watershed Education and Training is an environmental education program that promotes place-based experiential learning for K-12 students and related professional development for teachers. B-WET fosters the growth of new, innovative programs and encourages capacity-building and environmental education partnerships. For more information on all of the projects in 2022, or projects funded in previous years, visit the website.

About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 14,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and its graduate school. National publications regularly recognize EMU for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. Visit the University’s rankings and points of pride websites to learn more. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website. To stay up to date on
University news, activities and announcements, visit EMU Today.

July 26, 2023

Written by:
Media Relations

Media Contact:
Melissa Thrasher