DNR names Lake Orion middle school teacher a Partner in Conservation

Contact: Kevin Frailey, 517-284-6043
Agency: Natural Resources

Oct. 15, 2018

Partner in Conservation AwardWalden Middle School teacher Jon Gray was presented with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Partners in Conservation Award at Thursday’s Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing.

The Lake Orion teacher, who previously received the 2018 Michigan United Conservation Clubs Educator of the Year Award, has greatly benefited teachers and students throughout the state by making natural resources education training available to hundreds.

Since 2010, Gray has raised $90,000 in funds through Safari Club International – Novi Chapter to offer scholarships to educators to attend the DNR’s Academy of Natural Resources. The weeklong academy offers educators the opportunity to learn about Michigan’s diverse natural resources, discover current trends in management of those resources, and experience activities that bring knowledge to the classroom.

For nine years, Gray also has contributed hundreds of hours to help plan and facilitate the academy, which has grown from 16 teachers in 2008 to 70 this past year. The program has expanded, thanks to Gray’s involvement, to include the Academy of Natural Resources North in the western Upper Peninsula.

“The Academy of Natural Resources is one of the best professional development opportunities for teachers in Michigan,” Gray said. “I am honored to be part of a program that educates teachers in natural resources management, and Safari Club International is proud to have offered scholarships to hundreds of teachers. I am grateful and humbled to be recognized for this work.”

Gray’s dedication is evidenced, too, by his many ongoing partnerships with the DNR, including contributions through Safari Club International – Novi to Wayne Memorial High School’s Upward Bound Program and Nature Ventures Initiative, annual summer programs that introduce high school students to natural resources management.

For 15 years, Gray also has been an active participant in the DNR’s Salmon in the Classroom Program, an educational opportunity for teachers and students to raise salmon in their classrooms from eggs to smolt and then release them in rivers in the spring. Taking this educational journey a step further, Gray also has added sturgeon tanks to his classroom.

“Natural resources education is very important to Michigan’s youth,” said DNR Marketing and Outreach Division Chief Kristin Phillips. “Because Jon has enabled us to reach so many more teachers with our program, exponentially more students have benefited by learning about the importance of natural resources and becoming stewards of these resources. It gives us great pleasure to recognize Jon for his long-standing dedication to education.”

DNR Partners in Conservation awards are given six times a year to individuals or organizations for exemplary contributions to conservation in Michigan. Award nominations are made by DNR staff.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr.

An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Walden middle school teacher Jon Gray was presented with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Partner in Conservation award at Thursday's Natural Resources Commission meeting in Lansing. Pictured (L to R) are DNR Education Services Manager Kevin Frailey, Jon Gray, DNR Director Keith Creagh and DNR Marketing and Outreach Division Chief Kristin Phillips.