Friday, December 14, 2012

A whirl wind tour....

As the blog posts from many of the past Fellows can attest, time flies when you're at the Great Lakes Commission. I am halfway through my fellowship, and in many ways it feels as though I've barely begun. But, looking back at the  places I've gone, people I've met, and all of my accomplishments I realized that the Fellowship has been a wonderful opportunity that has taught me more so much, and really given me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of policy and communication. In this post I would like to share a handful of my most memorable experiences and a few of my favorite projects.

The Michigan Sea Grant Staff Retreat--Muskegon, MI

    The Michigan Sea Grant office was kind enough to invite me on their annual staff retreat. I not only got a good look at many of their on-going projects, but I also was invited to go fishing on Lake Michigan! This was an exciting new experience--can you believe that I had never been salmon fishing--that highlighted some of Bill Taylor’s recent work on the Catch and Cook program. The whole trip was a great way to learn about many of the programs going on in Michigan, and I feel that the connections I forged while at the meeting will serve me well as a Fellow and in the next stages of my career. Plus, look at all of those fish! 

Great Lakes Week--Cleveland, OH

In September I went down to Cleveland with many of the Commission staff to Great Lakes Week. Great Lakes Week is a recent effort to group the annual meetings of many Great Lakes organizations together to facilitate communication and networking. While mildly exhausting, I met many of our commissioners and people who are working hard to protect our valuable resources. 

The Great Lakes Wind Collaborative 

About half of my time goes to providing staff support to the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative--a multi-sector coalition of wind energy stakeholders working to facilitate the sustainable development of wind power in the bi-national Great Lakes region. Part of that work included attending their annual meeting in September. This meeting was a great opportunity to network and learn about sustainable alternative energy development in the Great Lakes. I have also written a blog post for the GLWC, check it out! And, one of my biggest projects over the last few months was the planning and implementation of a workshop aimed at investigating the potential impacts of offshore wind on the Great Lakes fishery and other aquatic resources. As part of this we worked to bring several speakers from Europe to Ann Arbor to provide a information and lessons learned from their operational wind farms. This was a great learning experience! As the Fellow I have had a lot of experience with planning meetings, logistics, and facilitating sessions. 

The Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative

     One of my favorite projects is the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative (GLPC)-- a regional partnership established to improve communication and collaboration and lead to more coordinated, efficient and strategic approaches to Phragmites management, restoration and research across the Great Lakes basin.  I've been really involved in launching this project and it has been a great way to use my knowledge of wetland plant ecology and invasive species in combination with the communication skills I've been learning at the Commission. Check out our webpage, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter

Amanda Sweetman
Great Lakes Commission Fellow
(6/2012 – 6/2013)

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