Center for Great Lakes Literacy students

Erie Area Elementary Students Become Pennsylvania Sea Grant Ambassadors for a Day
Teaching More than 100 Event Visitors about Invasive Species

Public outreach is a mainstay of Pennsylvania Sea Grant programs. Each year staff participate in the Erie Sport & Travel Expo and share information about our research, education, and extension programs, and Lake Erie related issues, like invasive species.

This year PA Sea Grant had some help from students from the Robison Elementary school and their teacher, Kristen Dahn. The students talked with more than 100 people over the course of two hours, sharing educational materials they created in class to help stop the spread of invasive species. 

Ms. Dahn is a participant in the Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL), a collaborative effort led by Sea Grant educators throughout the Great Lakes watershed. CGLL provides hands-on experiences, science-based information and networking opportunities that build literacy and engage people in stewardship projects around the basin.

“These students had an obvious passion for this topic, making this event a good experience for the students, and for those who stopped to listen and talk with them,” said Marti Martz, PA Sea Grant Senior Coastal Outreach Specialist and PA CGLL Program Lead.

Through CGLL, Martz helps teachers like Ms. Dahn, infuse Great Lakes science into their classroom lessons. Earlier this year, Ms. Dahn and her students utilized content from PA Sea Grant’s weekly environmental resource, published by the Erie Times-News, “Newspaper in Education (NIE),” as part of their invasive species research. They also participated in two CGLL sponsored hands-on laboratory experiences with the Regional Science Consortium, which focused on invasive species identification, awareness, how they spread, and ways they could help. Their lab experience also taught them how invaders like round gobies affect native fish in the local ecosystem.

As part of their CGLL experience, the students developed outreach materials to help educate others about invasive species. 

Nab the aquatic invader graphics stop aquatic hitchhikers graphicUsing a Nab the Aquatic Invader* format, students developed a display poster to inform others about impacts of invasive species, highlighting specific invasive species found in their area.

They also created a sticker, which they passed out at the Erie event, as a reminder to clean boats and gear between bodies of water. The sticker reads: “Don’t Give Them A Ride! Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers!”

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with these students. They took the information they learned this year through CGLL, Sea Grant and Regional Science Consortium activities, and developed a very engaging display. By joining us for this event they became Sea Grant ambassadors, sharing what they knew and suggesting ways people could avoid accidentally spreading invasive species,” said Martz.

The students and their participation were featured in the March 20, 2018 edition of the "Newspaper in Education (NIE)" 

Cover of connect with your environment

students at eventstudent explains invasive species student explains workbookstudent shares information with visitor

staff holding example of an invasive species students at event display

PA Sea Grant display at the Erie Sport & Travel Expo with Robison Elementary students Kody Bukoski and Randy Vannucci; Vincent Mosher talks with a visitor about aquatic invasive species; Riley Emerick shares invasive species identification resources;Randy Vannucci talks with visitor; PA Sea Grant's David Boughton displays and describes a preserved specimen to Randy Vannucci and Riley Emerick; Delani Miller, Vincent Mosher and Claire Schrumpf.

Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011