The bay of Green Bay is massive. In fact, it carries the distinction of being the largest freshwater estuary in the world. The bay is also a Petri dish of challenges, from agricultural runoff to toxic algal bloom. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has long been studying these issues and is now on the cusp of a major boost in its research capacity.The university is in the process of becoming a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). Largely funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Green Bay will become the third NERR on the Great Lakes and the 30th across the country. The multiyear process will result in a facility somewhere on the estuary that will be both a visitor center and research hub.Marissa Jablonski, with the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, and Emily Tyner, the director of freshwater strategy at UW-Green Bay, say that the NERR site will serve a large number of communities and function as a meeting place for education and research.“This preserve as it’s currently designated, will be designated, will represent the Lake Michigan / Lake Huron biogeographic region, which is a huge region. So that means that although the research will be in the waters of Green Bay, programmatically, the education focus will be quite broad — opportunities for training, for participating in programs will have a larger footprint and reach,” Tyner explains.