In this era of social distancing, many people are discovering, or rediscovering, the pleasure of time on the water. Paddle sports are a great way to explore the beauty of Michigan’s lakes and rivers, and now they also can be an opportunity to protect these precious resources.
With support from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program, Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension have developed MI Paddle Stewards, a self-paced, online program for paddlers to learn how to identify, report and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
The course consists of six short sessions that include information on using the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network mobile app to identify and report invasive species from anywhere with a mobile phone, as well as tips on recognizing “watch list” species – those that pose the greatest threat to Michigan’s waters.
Most importantly, canoe, kayak and stand-up paddle board users will learn how to effectively clean their watercraft and gear to ensure invasive species don’t travel with them on their next adventure.
Anyone interested can register for the program at MichiganSeaGrant.org under the Educational Programs tab. A $20 registration fee will earn participants a certificate, bucket hat, towel, waterproof phone case, dry bag and more upon course completion. Participants can take the course for free if they choose not to receive these items. All six sessions must be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.
For questions and more information about the MI Paddle Stewards online course, contact MSU Extension educator Mary Bohling at Bohling@MSU.edu.