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Nature Center Summit

The Nature Center Summit was established in 2019 as an opportunity to connect nonformal educators to the science behind resource management. The goal is to provide our many nonformal partners with the latest and most scientifically accurate information about Michigan's wildlife, fisheries, forests and more. Our nonformal partners reach thousands and thousands of students and families with messages about Michigan's natural resources. We strive to find the top experts in these topics in our state so you will be the most informed.

2024 Nature Center Summit: Friday, February 9, 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

This year DNR staff and partners will share the most up-to-date data and trends about invasive species awareness, staff certifications, wolf and fish telemetry research, forest pests and more. Networking time is built in throughout the day so we can share information with each other. 

 Registration is closed for 2024

2024 Nature Center Summit

Feb. 9, 2024
Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center
Roscommon, MI on North Higgins Lake

(All sessions 45 minutes, with a break following)

9:15 a.m.       Check-in, coffee, networking
10 a.m.          Welcome/introductions/housekeeping…and Phenology Fun
10:30 a.m.
    Natural Resources Deputy Director, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Shannon Lott
Partnerships, current issues and priorities. What we can do to promote healthy natural resource management.

11 a.m.    Breakout sessions: choose one

  • Fisheries Data collection by telemetry: Jan-Michael Hessenauer, Ph.D., DNR Fisheries Research Biologist, Lake St. Clair Fisheries Research Station
    Learn how DNR researchers and their partners use emerging technology to track fish species across the Great Lakes.  Telemetry allows researchers to track the movement of individual fish, and study their movements and habitat choices generating information relevant for the management and conservation of Great Lakes fishes as well as the angling public.  This presentation will provide an overview of acoustic telemetry and case studies demonstrating how the technology has been used on Walleye, Muskellunge and Smallmouth Bass populations of the Great Lakes.

  • How to stay legal: From Collector’s Permits to Foraging: Tom Goniea, DNR Fisheries Scientific Collector's Permit Coordinator; Casey Rietz, DNR Wildlife Division Permit Specialist/USFWS Law Enforcement
    Discuss Scientific Collector's Permit programs involving wild birds, fish, threatened species and wild mammals that you may want to showcase at your centers.

    Noon Lunch at the RAM (Main lodge/registration building)

    1 p.m.  Breakout sessions: Choose one

  • Watersheds, partnerships and volunteers, oh my! Eileen Boekestein, EGLE Education Specialist
    Chat about how to build a community around your center, get folks involved, and how to create a place to recreate, partner and clean-up your space.

  • Wolves: Brian Roell, DNR Wolf Specialist
    I’ll cover the history of wolves in Michigan and the challenges of managing an endangered species.  The presentation will center around the management issues facing Michigan wolves in the evolving social and biological realities of wolves and humans at the crossroads.

    2 p.m.    Breakout sessions: choose one

  • Wildlife Research Update: Melissa Nichols, DNR Wildlife Division Research Analyst
    An overview of different techniques commonly used in wildlife research and examples of DNR funded projects where those techniques have been implemented. Techniques discussed and previewed will include remote camera trapping, radio telemetry, direct observation, and others.

  • Preventing the Spread of Invasive Red Swamp Crayfish: Kathleen Quebedeaux, DNR Invasive Crayfish Biologist
    Red Swamp Crayfish are an invasive species that can be highly destructive when spread outside of their native range. Red Swamp Crayfish were first found in Michigan in 2017, and this presentation will be an overview of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ response to invasive Red Swamp Crayfish in the state and how the public can help.

    3 p.m.  ANCA/NAI/MAEOE Certifications for you or your staff panel: Dan Auer, ANCA Membership and Program Coordinator; Michelle Fournier and Jenn Kirts, NAI; Cindy Fitzwilliams-Heck, EEC Coordinator for MAEOE
    Discover professional development opportunities available to help build your skill set. Learn about ANCA's virtual and in person programming, mentor/affinity groups, and peer consults. The Great Lakes region of NAI offers an annual Regional Interpretive Workshop, while the national office offers a variety of virtual and in-person workshops, conferences and professional certifications.  MAEOE's Environmental Educator certificate will also be highlighted.

    4 p.m.    Adjourn

    5:30 p.m.    Dinner for those staying for evening networking and Wildlife Weekend


Registration is closed for 2024



The 2023 Nature Center Summit was held February 10 at the DNR's RAM Center. The session lineup included:

Carbon Credits: What Are They and How Do They Impact Conservation?
;Scott Whitcomb, acting resource deputy director, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The Mass Gathering Security Planning Tool
Mike Baker, protective security advisor, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Wildlife Health Update: CWD, Avian Influenza, Bovine TB and More!
Julie Melotti, DNR Wildlife Disease Lab

Michigan’s Healthy Climate Plan
Denise M. Keele, Ph.D., director, Michigan Climate Action Network 

Interpreting Invasive Species
Katie Grzesiak, DNR terrestrial invasive species coordinator

Michigan’s Dam Dilemma
Patrick Ertel, DNR senior resource analyst, Fisheries Habitat Management Unit 

Michigan’s Wildlife Action Plan
Tony Henehan, DNR Wildlife Action Plan coordinator 

Michigan Fisheries Report
Randy Claramunt, DNR Lake Huron Basin Manager 

Counting Critters
Shelby Adams, DNR wildlife biologist


2022 summit presentation recordings


2021 summit presentation recordings