UW-Green Bay student awarded honorable mention for research collected for the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program

At this week’s Wisconsin Wetlands Association Conference (Feb. 16-19), Cofrin Center for Biodiversity student, Britney Hirsch (’20), presented a poster entitled “Anuran occurrences in high and low water within the Lower Green Bay and Fox River AOC.” Her research poster won the Honorable Mention Award in the Student Poster Presentation competition at the conference. She presented results on anuran (frog/toad) data collected for the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program, a project that Cofrin Center’s Robert Howe and Erin Giese have co-led with other institutions for the past decade. Hirsch was one of four students from the Cofrin Center who conducted anuran and bird surveys during the spring and summer of 2020.

Britney Hirsch
Britney Hirsch

Faculty/staff note: Biodiversity specialist Giese recently published new conservation strategy

Senior Research Specialist Erin Giese recently published a Landbird Habitat Conservation Strategy, along with many co-authors from around the United States. Giese is a Howe Team Coordinator for Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring, President of the Northeastern Wisconsin Audobon Society, and Advisor of the Green Bay Audobon Student Conservation Chapter. She is a member of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity.

Read the document to learn more about conservation in the revised 2020 plan.


Cofrin Center for Biodiversity’s Erin Giese earns recognition for Snowy Owl Airport Rescue

Since the winter of 2017-2018, Cofrin Center for Biodiversity’s Erin Giese has helped co-lead Project SOAR (Snowy Owl Airport Rescue) whose mission is to capture and relocate Snowy Owls and other raptors from local airports where they pose as hazards. Giese co-leads the project with Janet Wissink (Winnebago Audubon) and Frank Ujazdowski (Wisconsin Falconers Association). In 2020 they earned the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology’s (WSO) Special Recognition Award, which recognizes the collective efforts of a far-reaching project or partnership that increases the public’s awareness and appreciation for birds, their habitats, or the need for conservation.

WSO Awards Chair Wendy Schultz met up with Project SOAR and gave them their awards at an outdoor pavilion while social distancing (in a non-pandemic year, awards would have been given at the WSO Convention). Erin and her collaborators Janet and Frank each gave acceptance speeches, which can be viewed at the very bottom of this page.

You can follow Project SOAR’s efforts on Facebook.

Photo courtesy of Wendy Schultz. Left to right: Erin Giese, Janet Wissink and Frank Ujazdowski.


Insight Publications | Nuturing nature

The 73-acre Wequiock Creek Natural Area is NEWLT’s latest addition. Nett says she’s worked closely with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and the Town of Scott to protect the land, which is “an exceptional, archaeologically significant” region. …The land is located adjacent to the Point au Sable peninsula and is part of the 1.9-mile corridor that connects the important Point au Sable coastal wetland to Wequiock Falls. The preserve will provide public recreation activities, trails and bird watching, but it will also offer college students and faculty the ability to conduct research. The preserve is now owned by NEWLT, but Nett says it may be offered to the Town of Scott and UW-Green Bay for their purposes.

Source: Insight Publications | Nuturing nature

First to fill a First Nations Graduate Assistant position – Wisconsin Sea Grant

Note: This story is reprinted with permission from author Marie Zhuikov and Wisconsin Sea Grant

Stephanie King of Oneida, Wisconsin, is breaking new ground. Not only is she first to fill a position with Wisconsin Sea Grant designed to strengthen relationships with First Nation tribes in the Green Bay area, she is in the first cohort of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s First Nations Education Doctoral Program.

Stephanie King, photo submitted

Although her position, which also involves the UW-Green Bay’s Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, is just beginning, King said her role will be to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge as part of a team that’s restoring wetlands north of the Green Bay campus on Wequiock Creek.

“That area is ancestral lands for the Ho-Chunk Nation, Menominee Nation and I believe the Potawatomi, as well,” King said.

The assistantship opened at just at the right time. King, who is enrolled in the Oneida Nation but was raised on the Menominee Reservation, was laid off from her cultural wellness work for the Oneida Nation due to COVID-19 factors.

“I was excited when I saw the position. When I was reading through the announcement, the requirements brought my higher educational experience and passions full circle. I thought it would be a unique opportunity to share my experiences and knowledge with others and the team. I decided to throw my name in the hat and see what happened,” King said.

One of the reasons King’s name was plucked from that proverbial hat was her academic background. King has an associate degree in sustainable development from the College of Menominee Nation, a bachelor’s degree in family, consumer and community education from UW-Madison and a master’s degree in educational leadership with a focus on adult education from UW-Oshkosh.

Julia Noordyk, Wisconsin Sea Grant water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist, is King’s mentor. “Stephanie’s knowledge and experience working with people of all ages and backgrounds is a good fit for Wisconsin Sea Grant,” Noordyk said. “I am always focused on how we can most successfully engage with our audiences, so her expertise in education and outreach lends perfectly to this.”

King had the chance to visit the Wequiock Creek sites and “got an idea of some of the potential goals that all the different people involved have. There are still conversations to be had about what the First Nations communities would like to see as well, so that will come next,” King said.

King also said this position fits well with her life goals. “My foundation for my education, my work and my research has been with a passion to give back to my community and to my people. In any opportunity I take, I always look at how is this going to benefit others and benefit the community as well as my family in a good way, in a positive way.”

While on paper Noordyk is King’s supervisor and mentor, Noordyk acknowledges there is already more to their relationship. “Stephanie comes to this assistantship with a deep understanding of education, outreach and communication with First Nations people. It would be foolish of me not to learn as much as possible from her, too.”

Source: First to fill a First Nations Graduate Assistant position – Wisconsin Sea Grant

Research identifies wetlands most important for marsh bird conservation, WPR

The most important coastal wetlands to preserve marsh birds in the Great Lakes have been identified from a recent study. Researchers from the National Audubon Society, UW-Green Bay, and the National Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. These Wetlands are critical ecosystems that provide flood protection and filtering out pollutants. Source: WPR.

Faculty and staff note: Giese and Howe co-author publication

UW-Green Bay Senior Research Specialist Erin Giese and Prof. Bob Howe co-authored “Prioritizing coastal wetlands for marsh bird conservation in the U.S. Great Lakes.”It was recently published in Biological Conservation, Volume 249, Sept. 2020, 108708. Alumna Stephanie Beilke ’15, one of their former graduate students is also a co-author. See the abstract.


The Emmy goes to… Coastal Wetland Monitoring documentary takes home an award

Prof. Robert Howe (NAS) and Erin Giese ’12 from the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity have been participating in the Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Monitoring Program for the past 10 years. A documentary recently made for this program, titled “Linking Land and Lakes: Protecting the Great Lakes’ Coastal Wetlands,” has just won an Emmy in the Photographer Non-News category. The documentary features how coastal wetlands help in keeping the Great Lakes healthy. You can watch the documentary online on PBS.

Prof. Howe is one of the principal investigators for the Great Lakes Coastal Monitoring Program, and Giese coordinates the field work for Prof. Howe’s crew. They have recently published an article in the Journal of Great Lakes Research on how Great Lakes coastal wetland bird and anuran communities vary across ever-changing water levels and geography in the bay of Green Bay using this project’s data set.


Ruchita Patel and Brooke Breitrick are co-recipients of the Sager Award for Excellence in Scientific Scholarship

On behalf of Emeritus Professors Paul and Thea Sager and the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, Prof. Bob Howe is pleased to announce the co-recipients of this year’s Sager Award for Excellence in Scientific Scholarship: Ruchita Patel and Brooke Breitrick, for their poster presentation entitled Evaluating Synergism Between Vitamin D and ω-3 Fatty Acids in Ovarian Cancer Cells. Their work, which was presented at the annual Wisconsin Posters in the Rotunda event, was supervised by Human Biology faculty Paul Mueller, Debra Pearson and Georgette Heyrman. The Sager award, officially named The Paul and Thea Sager Award for Excellence in Scientific Scholarship, is in memory of Edward W. Weidner. It provides a $1,000 award and recognition as the 12th recipient of this honor, which aims to promote undergraduate research in the sciences at UW-Green Bay.

Honorable mention for this year’s competition are LeeAnn Bellow and Jacob Harper (Chemistry), Natasha Clark (Biology), Natalie Gawron (Human Biology), Akanksha Gurtu (Environmental Science), Makenna Pucker, Olivia Claybrook, Kyle Deacy, and Jacalyn Crom (Biology), Claire Stuart (Biology/Environmental Science) and Norah Swenson (Biology).

Congratulations to all participants in undergraduate science research at UW-Green Bay during 2019-20, including CSET faculty judges for the Sager Award, faculty advisors, and campus leaders who continue to cultivate a rich environment for high-impact learning experiences like that recognized here.