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Three Pennsylvania Educators Will Embark on a Once-in-a-Lifetime Scientific Exploration of Lake Erie

The Lake Guardian shipboard science workshop Launches July 7, 2024, from Cleveland, Ohio

(HARRISBURG, PA) – Pennsylvania Sea Grant is excited to announce that three educators from Pennsylvania will join the Sea Grant Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL) and Great Lakes scientists for a once-in-a-lifetime, week-long opportunity to live aboard the EPA’s research vessel (R/V), Lake Guardian to assist scientists and bring Great Lakes education back to their classrooms! 

The educators, Casey Keating, Brienne May, and Sarah Sato are among fifteen chosen from an applicant pool of 115 Great Lakes-region educators. During their journey, they will experience daily hands-on opportunities to explore microplastics, benthic organisms, cyanobacteria, and other Lake Erie-specific topics alongside scientists and researchers working on these important issues. Their journey begins July 7 in Cleveland, Ohio, with on land excursions planned for Erie, Pennsylvania and Put-In-Bay, Ohio. The trip concludes in Cleveland on July 13, 2024.

Introducing the three Pennsylvania educators,

Casey Keating

Casey Keating is an interpretive naturalist at Asbury Woods in Erie, Pennsylvania. Casey plans and leads field trips for students in grades K-8 and teaches public programs for toddlers to adults. She says, “This experience will be particularly relevant to my work because many of the field trips and programs we offer are related to water, and Asbury Woods is in the Lake Erie watershed, so we often teach about where our water goes and how our actions affect our natural environment. I plan on using the experience to develop new programs that will focus on how water travels, how it shapes the watersheds and world around us, and how it supports such diverse life.”

Brienne May

Brienne May is a 5th grade math and science teacher at Franklin Regional Intermediate School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Brienne says, “If we want our students to think and act like scientists, teachers need to have these experiences to think and act like scientists first. As an ambassador of scientific literacy within my district, I will share my experiences not only with my own students, but with science teachers of all levels. We will all use what I learn during the Lake Guardian shipboard workshop to expand aquatic science education, district sustainability efforts, and Great Lakes literacy for all students in grades kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

Sarah Sato

Sarah Sato is an Environmental Education Specialist for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, in Landenberg, Pennsylvania. Sarah develops, coordinates, and presents environmental education and interpretive programs. She says, “I am always looking to learn more about topics that relate to watersheds, so that I can better educate the community through my work. I believe that one of the best ways you can learn is by observing, listening to, and working with others as well as through hands-on experience. I believe this experience could be such a tremendous way of learning and connecting with other educators from all different areas each with a different expertise.”

The annual R/V Lake Guardian shipboard science workshop rotates amongst the five Great Lakes and is organized to provide educators the unique opportunity to live and work alongside Great Lakes scientists on a vessel conducting critical research while forging lasting relationships with Great Lakes researchers and other educators.

The opportunity is made possible through a partnership with the EPA, NOAA, and with funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Hosts for the Lake Erie workshop are CGLL partners Pennsylvania Sea Grant and Ohio Sea Grant.

The week-long shipboard experience is organized by the Center for Great Lakes Literacy (CGLL), which is a collaborative effort led by Sea Grant educators throughout the U.S. Great Lakes watershed. CGLL fosters informed and responsible decisions that advance basin-wide stewardship by providing hands-on experiences, educational resources, and networking opportunities promoting Great Lakes literacy among an engaged community of educators, scientists, and youth. For more information on the 2024 Shipboard Science Workshop and application materials visit the Center for Great Lakes Literacy website.

Pennsylvania Sea Grant one of 34 National Sea Grant College programs, whose mission is to enhance the practical use and conservation of natural resources for a healthy environment, resilient communities, and strong, sustainable economies. Pennsylvania Sea Grant partners with decision-makers, academic institutions, Sea Grant programs, and individuals and organizations to build bridges between science and people.

With support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Penn State University, and private and public grants, Pennsylvania Sea Grant conducts integrated research, outreach, education, and communications programs in the Lake Erie watershed, and in the Delaware and Susquehanna River Basins. Learn more online at

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