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Swab the deck and grab the microscope: Wisconsin educators sail Lake Michigan

August 15, 2017 By Marie Thoms

A dozen educators from Minnesota and Wisconsin have set sail from the Port of Milwaukee on a one-of-a-kind professional development workshop aboard the sailing vessel Denis Sullivan.

The participants will study Lake Michigan’s food web by collecting, analyzing and interpreting water quality, sediment and zooplankton data from Aug. 13 to 19. They will also learn about a proposed national marine sanctuary that would protect 37 known historic Lake Michigan shipwrecks.

“This collaboration exemplifies the kind of unique and enriching experience that marine sanctuaries can help catalyze in neighboring communities and beyond,” said Kathleen Kline, Wisconsin Sea Grant education outreach specialist and workshop co-coordinator.

The Center for Great Lakes Literacy and the Minnesota and Wisconsin Sea Grant programs, in partnership with the S/V Denis Sullivan and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, are sponsoring the workshop to promote Great Lakes literacy and to provide information about the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary. Port stops in Sheboygan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin will provide opportunities for the educators to share their shipboard experiences with the public.

“A connection to the big lakes can make science, history, biology, physics, and reading and writing, relevant,” said Kristine Kolenz, a fifth-grade teacher from Lester Park Elementary School in Duluth, Minn., and one of the participating educators. “It is our charge as teachers to continually offer students true connections to what they are learning in the classroom.”

The S/V Denis Sullivan is the world’s only re-creation of a 19th-century three-masted Great Lakes schooner and provides a glimpse into the rich maritime history of the freshwater seas of the Great Lakes.

“The educators and instructors will work alongside the S/V Denis Sullivan crew raising and lowering sails, dropping and retrieving the anchor, swabbing the decks and even cleaning the bathrooms — also called heads,” said Cynthia Hagley, Minnesota Sea Grant environmental quality extension educator and workshop co-coordinator. “They’ll participate in and learn about the three “S”s: science, shipwrecks and sailing, and they’ll be blogging on the Center for Great Lakes Literacy website.”

Financial support for the workshop comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

The National Sea Grant College Program is a program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is a national network of 33 Sea Grant Colleges and universities involved in scientific research, education, training, and extension projects geared toward the conservation and practical use of the coasts, Great Lakes, and other marine areas.

Participants are posting social media updates about the trip under the hastag #Sullivan17.


The Wisconsin educators are: Jessica Cook and Eric VanRemortal (Eisenhower Elementary School, Green Bay), Carly Ziegler (St. Maria Goretti School, Madison), Patrick Keelty (Palmyra-Eagle High School, Palmyra), Sarah DeZwarte (Camp Y-Koda Outdoor Skills and Education, Sheboygan Falls) and Lynn Kurth (Prairie River Middle School Merrill).

The Minnesota educators are: Bruce Frutiger (Century High School, Rochester), Kris Kolenz and Sherry Williams (Lester Park Elementary School, Duluth), Susan Nelson (Friedell Middle School, Rochester),Bo DeRemee (Ely Memorial High School, Ely) and Cory Kolodji (Chisholm High School, Chisholm).


Educators, workshop presenters and organizers will be available for interviews Aug. 17 in Manitowoc and Aug. 18 at the Port of Milwaukee. Details:

Port of Manitowoc. Aug. 17, 2017, arrival about 2 p.m. Educators and organizers will be speaking with the public during free deck tours of the S/V Denis Sullivan starting at 3 p.m. at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, 75 Maritime Drive, Manitowoc, Wis. Contact: Kathy Kline, Mobile: 608-334-8418

Port of Milwaukee. Aug. 18, 2017, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., Discovery World, 500 North Harbor Drive, Milwaukee, Wis. Contact: Marte Kitson, mobile: 218-310-3756, or Cindy Hagley,, or Kathy Kline,, mobile: 6083348418