Richter Museum Curator Tom Erdman presented with special recognition from Wisconsin DNR

UW-Green Bay Richter Museum Curator Tom Erdman (right in photo) received a surprise special recognition from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation (NHC) for his more than 50 years of contributions to the conservation of birds in Northeast Wisconsin.image1[1]

Erdman had just concluded a detailed presentation to the Green Bay Bird Club on the ecology and population status of the Northern Goshawk in Northeast Wisconsin, January 19, when NHC avian ecologist Sumner Matteson presented him with a beautifully hand-carved miniature adult Goshawk (by Duluth wildlife artist William Majewski).

Bird Club President Nancy Nabak noted that Erdman has spent more than four decades conducting research on mammals, reptiles and amphibians in Northeast Wisconsin. Birds, however, have been the main focus of his career. Among Erdman’s noted contributions:

  • First photographic documentation of the Arctic Tern (April 25, 1965) and Laughing Gull (August 3, 1965) occurring in Wisconsin
  • First recorded successful nesting of the Little Gull in the United States (summer of 1975), Manitowoc County
  • First documented nesting of the Snowy Egret in Wisconsin (June 15, 1975), Oconto County
  • First documented nesting of the Cattle Egret in Wisconsin (summer of 1971), Willow Island, Brown County, Lower Green Bay
  • First documented nesting of the American White Pelican in Wisconsin (spring 1994), Cat Island

As founder and director of the Little Suamico Ornithological Station on the shores of western Green Bay, Erdman has banded more than 45,000 individuals representing close to 180 bird species.  In cooperation with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and Wisconsin DNR, his pioneering research on toxins and colonial nesting birds on Green Bay and Lake Michigan eventually led to a massive PCB cleanup of the Fox River.

Erdman has authored and coauthored many publications on Northern Goshawk population biology, toxins, raptor migration, Northern Saw-whet Owl migration, and the development of an audiolure for Northern Saw-whet Owls.

Photo by Nancy Nabak.


Erica Muelmans taking a water sample

Water Water Everywhere

UW-Green Bay helps protect the largest freshwater estuary in the world

Green Bay and its surrounding communities sit on the largest freshwater estuary in the world, where water from the Fox River and the Bay of Green Bay mix.

“The estuary is important to all of Lake Michigan, both as an active port and as an engine for biological production,” says Patrick Robinson, Interim Director of Community, Natural Resource and Economic Development (CNRED).

Every member of the community depends on a constant supply of fresh water for drinking, and water dominates a local economy built on agriculture, paper and food processing industries, forestry, fishing, hunting and boating. Water is everywhere, but it is easy to forget just how intertwined water quality is to the region’s overall quality of life and the threats to our liquid lifeline. The Bay of Green Bay is threatened by invasive species, urban and agricultural nutrient run-off and wetland and shoreline loss.

UW-Green Bay scientists have long taken advantage of the University’s location on the Bay to study one of the region’s most valuable resources. During the University’s early years, scientists Jack Day, Jim Wiersma, Bud Harris, Paul Sager and Ron Stieglitz focused on understanding the impacts of pollutants and nutrients on water quality and ecosystem health that helped advise agencies as they began to tackle the national clean-up of the Fox River.

UW-Green Bay’s new cohort of award-winning faculty continue to be actively involved in all aspects of water quality, from soils and farms to helping industry and municipalities ensure that clean water keeps coming out of the tap. Current research focuses on water quality, wastewater management, habitat restoration and ecology.

Nine faculty and their staff and students are currently engaged in water-related research that now spans several disciplines. (Photo above, Environmental Science and Policy student Erica Meulemans studies the nutrient dynamics of the Lower Fox River using chemical sensors). There is a universal focus on funded research based on collaborative partnerships with local businesses, agencies, municipalities, non-profit organizations and other universities, which provide a rich resource of information about water quality.

Grants received between 2013 and 2016 amount to $3.1 million for water-related research
focusing on the region’s freshwater resources. Current partners with our faculty include 14 area farms, hundreds of businesses, non-profits and municipalities, NEW Water, The Oneida Tribe, Ducks Unlimited, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Sea Grant, The Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Great Lakes Alliance, UW Extension and UW-Milwaukee, among them.

Collaborative data and information are shared with partners and are made publicly available to help agency and municipal personnel make informed economic decisions that can potentially save money, maintain water quality and conserve freshwater resources and habitat.

Nicole Van Helden, Director of Conservation-Green Bay Watershed at The Nature Conservancy, describes UW-Green Bay as an excellent partner. “UW-Green Bay provides the science we need to inform on-the-ground action. This helps us to make better decisions and provide cost effective solutions to improve water quality in our region.”

Faculty work extensively with their students, helping them to develop and practice skills. Over the last three years, hundreds of students have participated directly in water-related research as part of their coursework, independent studies, internships and senior and graduate thesis projects. Most are now pursuing advanced degrees or successful careers in water resources. Recent graduates now work with the DNR, The Nature Conservancy, USFWS, NEW Water, UW Extension, and with several local and regional businesses.

In addition, water research reaches students in area high schools. The Lower Fox River Water monitoring program, started 15 years ago by professors Bud Harris (Emeritus) and Kevin Fermanich, provides area science teachers with resources to lead teams of high school students who collect water quality data from streams that feed the lower part of the Fox River.

From long-term monitoring to modeling, water resources research by faculty in the College of Science and Technology with their students and collaborative partners allows business and community members to better understand their water resources and provide solutions and options for decision makers.

Current research focused on water quality, wastewater management, habitat restoration, and fisheries ecology:

Water Quality —

Ryan Holzem, an environmental engineer in UW-Green Bay’s Engineering Technology program, has as his primary research goal to improve  drinking and wastewater management. Holzem  has had several projects that team students with area businesses to solve unique wastewater issues. In one project, students under his direction worked with a food processing business to help find ways to economically reduce chlorides in waste water. This project benefits the community and sewage treatment facilities by alleviating  pressure on the water resource recovery and wastewater treatment facilities that would otherwise have to remove those chemicals. Other projects had students working with area farmers to apply manure to fields in a responsible way. Undergraduate Jake Pelegrin worked on an analysis to see whether it might be cost effective to harvest the invasive aquatic plant Phragmites to use in digesters to generate biogas.  This year, student Eric Short will work with wastewater treatment staff to facilitate  more efficient aeration  in treatment tanks.

Geologist John Luczaj has a number of ongoing projects that are examining the relationship between rock geology and chemistry related to groundwater availability and water quality. One project, which became part of graduate student Julie Maas’s thesis research, showed how deep aquifer water level recovered almost 200 feet since regional municipalities switched from using groundwater to lake water for their drinking supply.  His other  projects, in collaboration with UW-Green Bay chemist Mike McIntire and statistician Megan Olson Hunt, aim to better understand the geochemistry of rocks in relation to metals that become dissolved in groundwater supplies. Other projects involve students examining groundwater age and chemistry.

Soil Scientist Kevin Fermanich has spent the last 20 years studying soil health and nutrient runoff into streams and ultimately the Bay of Green Bay. His work on phosphorus, helping  to determine low oxygen  “dead zones” in the Bay of Green Bay with recent ES&P graduate Tracy Valenta and collaborators at NEW Water in Green Bay and  at UW-Milwaukee, gained national attention.

Restoration ecologist Matt Dornbush is working with Kevin Fermanich on projects related to monitoring  soil health, productivity and clean water on farms in the lower Fox Region that help farmers to improve their “edge of field” water quality. Other collaborations,with the Fox Wolf Watershed Alliance and the Nature Conservancy, are  looking at edge of field impacts and agricultural  treatment wetlands, which are similar to urban storm water ponds.

Dornbush and Fermanich are working with the Oneida tribe to quantify impacts on water quality in Silver Creek located on the reservation. This project uses Silver Creek as a test case for altering land use to improve water quality in an agricultural ecosystem. The project involves the cooperation of tribal farmers and agencies in comparing impacts of various agricultural practices from grazing to row crops, along with various restoration activities in the creek.

Environmental Chemist Mike Zorn studies chemical conditions in the Bay of Green Bay using a variety of sampling methods, especially new chemistry tools to better understand and make predictions about conditions. He is currently working on measuring nutrients using  chemical sensors deployed from Lake Winnebago into the bay to better understand the system and predict algal blooms, which will have significance for other projects like restoring Bay Beach in Green Bay. He is also working with collaborators from UW-Milwaukee and NEW Water to monitor oxygen concentrations in the bay.

Habitat and Ecological  Restoration —

Fisheries ecologist Patrick Forsythe works on projects designed to improve the health of fish populations, with the goal of improving reproduction and habitat quality that will benefit biodiversity and recreational and commercial fisheries in the Great Lakes. His recent research project is in collaboration with partners with USFWS, Ducks Unlimited, and the WI-DNR  to understand the reproduction ecology of Northern Pike and Lake Sturgeon. With collaborators at other institutions, he has recently received three new grants totaling more than $630,000, to extend the study to include several more fish species like Lake Whitefish. The results of this research will help regional fisheries managers with their efforts  to improve fish spawning in tributaries into Lake Michigan.

Several faculty, including Patrick Robinson, Patrick Forsythe, Matt Dornbush, Amy Wolf, and Bob Howe are working with a coalition of partners (Ducks Unlimited, USFWS, DNR, NRDA, Save Our Great Lakes Alliance, Green Bay Water Authority) to monitor restoration of the Cat Island chain of barrier islands in the southern part of the bay of Green Bay. The goal of the barrier islands is to improve water quality and wildlife habitat in the southern bay. Students and faculty have been monitoring shorebirds, fish, and water chemistry, and actively restoring vegetation between Duck Creek and the southern part of the islands. Major successes of the project include nesting by threatened Piping Plovers on the island and the return of wild rice to the mouth of Duck Creek. The team is currently transitioning to a new project focused on further restoration, with the help of a $1.2 million grant to continue habitat restoration, including continued vegetation restoration and improved waterfowl and fish habitat.

The Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern is just one of many sites in the Great Lakes that has been designated by the EPA as  areas where human activity has significantly impaired beneficial uses. Ecologists Amy Wolf and Bob Howe are leading a project that includes staff and students in developing the roadmap to guide local stakeholders in achieving  their goal of delisting the area. They are gathering and compiling data on current and historical conditions, identifying high biodiversity areas and developing statistical models that will help stakeholders to prioritize projects and to focus their management in the most cost effective way.

In order to restore habitat at UW-Green Bay’s Point au Sable coastal natural area, professors Robert Howe and Amy Wolf received funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to remove invasive plants, especially Phragmites. This natural area is an important migratory stop-over spot for birds and bats, as well as an important nesting site for game fish and birds. Students in Ecology and Conservation Biology courses helped with field work and monitoring for the restoration management plan. Wolf and Howe are continuing to pursue shoreline restoration at Point au Sable and in the UW-Green Bay Arboretum by pursuing funding to reduce erosion and storm water runoff into the bay, and to restore and improve beach habitat.

Bob Howe has participated in a Great Lakes Coastal Monitoring project with 14 other institutions, to monitor frog and bird populations in the western Great Lakes. The EPA has funded the project for the past 15 years and it has been renewed for another four  years. This research has provided eight graduate students and over 30 undergraduates with spring and summer research opportunities.

See a video on the importance of water and the collaborative efforts to keep it healthy.

Written by freelance writer Vicki Medland. Photo by University photographer Dan Moore.

Record number of scholarship funds presented to science students

GREEN BAY – The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay honored some of its top science scholars Friday, Jan. 29, with more than $32,900 in scholarship funding presented to 30 recipients. Flanked by parents, faculty members and donors, students were recognized for high grades, outstanding scholarship, innovative research and overall academic excellence. Receiving awards:

Cody Becker (So. Environmental Science and Geoscience major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Chad Moritz and Beth Meyer Annual Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Worked in the robotics laboratory at UW-Milwaukee, where he studied, designed, and built a kite-based multispectral imaging system to rapidly assess the growth of near-shore algae in Lake Michigan and a large radio-controlled pontoon boat for plankton sampling. In Spring 2015, he presented his research from UW-Milwaukee at the UW-System Undergraduate Research Symposium and won the Most Outstanding Poster Presentation Award for his aerial imaging research. He has since worked with Prof. Bob Howe at the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity on a multitude of projects, including vegetation mapping, mammal surveying, and the creation of a drone program. Based on his drone research experience and summer aerial imaging work, Becker has become involved with UWGB’s Risk Management Committee to aid in creating a UW-Systemwide policy on drone use.

Krystal Clark (Sr. Environmental Science major, Menominee, Mich.) receiving the Alfred O. and Phyllis E. Holz Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: An active member of the Public and Environmental Affairs Council (PEAC), Round River Alliance, American Fisheries Society (AFS), SLO Foods, and the Geology Club. She was elected President of PEAC this year. Served a summer 2015 internship as a research assistant for the Aquatic Ecology and Fisheries Lab where she assisted with a Sea Grant project on quantifying coastal wetland in the area. Recently returned from the travel abroad course to Panama. She is interested in a career involving environmental consulting, pollution control/prevention, and waste management.

Molly Dederich (Sr. Mathematics major, Menomonee Falls, Wis.) receiving the Todd and Julie Bartels Annual Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Extensively involved in the Green Bay Optimist Club and serving her third year as co-president for the organization. Lead staff member with the Greater Green Bay YMCA’s school age childcare program. Volunteer with Terror on the Fox, Kid’s Autumn Adventure, the Center for Childhood Safety, the Brown County Library, the Neville Public Museum, and Green Bay Preble High School helping students prepare to take the math portion of the ACT. Member of the UWGB Pep Band. Her goal is to teach math at the middle school level.

Amy Deringer (Fr. Environmental Engineering Technology and Business Administration major, Ringle Wis.) receiving the Faith Technologies, Inc. Annual Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Participated in a porcupine ecology study conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In high school she was part of the Wisconsin Youth in Government program sponsored by the YMCA. Currently, she is working 10 hours a week as a drafting intern for a window and door manufacturing company. Her plan is to pursue a law degree in either environmental or corporate law.

Stephanie Hermans (Jr. Animal Biology major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Herbert Fisk Johnson Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Active volunteer at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary for the past five years. In summer 2015 interned with Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River, Wis. Worked with graduate student on researching and collecting data on mushrooms in Door County. Was a resident assistant for Residence Life last year, and now serves as a community advisor. She is vice president of Student WEA, and is active in other organizations including Healthy Choices Task Force, Residence Green Life Committee, and Phi Eta Sigma. Her goal is to work with animals in a wildlife sanctuary or zoo prior to becoming a science teacher.

Elisabeth Hidde (Fr. Environmental Science major, Appleton, Wis.) receiving the Carol R. De Groot Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: For a class project, she observed and noted the effects of a controlled prairie burn. Has had multiple opportunities to observe and study an entire pond ecosystem at her high school. Faculty member noted that her essays are easily among the best in class. She is interested in the NAS integrated bachelor’s to master’s degree program.

Dessiray Koss (Jr. Mechanical Engineering Technolgy, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Susan Finco and Ed Kralovec Endowed Scholarship, and the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance Future All-Stars Annual Scholarship.

Accomplishments: In May 2013 received and Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Design Technology from NWTC as well as a Parametric Modeling and CAD Certificate. Was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa while attending NWTC. Has worked full-time as an engineer designer at Essco Inc. for more than two years.

Allison LeMahieu (So. Mathematics Statistics major, Franklin, Wis.) receiving the Herbert Fisk Johnson Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Serves as a resident assistant. Is vice chair for SUFAC, and the secretary of “Love Your Melon.” An active member in Public and Environmental Affairs Council, Habitat for Humanity and Oxfam America. Is involved with various committees including the Dining RFP Committee, Inclusivity in the Workplace Subcommittee, and the Childcare Alliance. Intends to pursue a career in actuarial science.

Faith Lindermann (Jr. Chemistry major, Cleveland, Wis.) receiving the Nancy Sell Memorial Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Serves as a resident assistant. Completed a research project with Dr. Mike Mcintire in studying the oxidation rate of iron. Will be working with Dr. Franklin Chen in the area of polymer chemistry soil research. Will be joining Tutoring Services next semester as a tutor for Chemistry.

Haley Lucas (Jr. Environmental Science major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Brown County Waste Transformation Team Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Developed a volunteer internship through the Richard Mauthe Center, in which she researched, engineered, and constructed an aquaponics system, consisting of a 350-gallon fish tank and a 100-gallon grow bed. Has launched and maintained several projects including community composting, vermicomposting and a vegetable garden. Summer 2015, she interned for the Green Bay Botanical Gardens as the invasive species manager. Active member since 2013 of the UW-Green Bay Phoenix women’s swimming and diving team. Made the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll and also received the Team Leader Award in 2015. She has been inducted into the Phi Eta sigma National Freshman Honor Society. She is looking forward to continuing research in sustainable land management, and receiving her master’s degree at UW-Green Bay.

Matthew Malcore (Sr. Environmental Science and Environmental Policy and Planning major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Alfred O. and Phyllis E. Holz Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Active member of Public and Environmental Affairs Council since Fall 2012, and managed the budget as the PEAC treasurer since Spring 2013. In Spring 2014, he received an EMBI internship with Zeus Recycling, and established a plastic film recycling program on campus. He is considering graduate school for Environmental Science and/or Policy. He is interested in renewable energy and in pursuing a career in nuclear power or the solar photovoltaic industry.

Samuel Mantel (Sr. Cellular and Molecular Biology major, New Berlin, Wis.) receiving the Nancy Sell Memorial Scholarship.

Accomplishments: In summer 2015, was given a fellowship in the lab of Dr. Andrea Sweigart at the University of Georgia, where he worked with a graduate student on a portion of his dissertation research investigating the effects of transmission ratio distortion on the maintenance in a 2-locus Dobzhansky-Muller Incompatibility in Mimulus. He is currently conducting research with UWGB Prof. Uwe Pott on developing a size standard of the human D1S80 VNTR. Inducted into Tribeta, the National Biological Honor Society, is president of the Newman Club and has worked for the grounds crew at UWGB for three years. He is planning on a career in genetic research and is pursuing admission to several Ph.D. Programs in genetics for next fall.

David Maruszczak (Sr. Mechanical Engineering Technology major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Beth and Richard Gochnauer Scholarship.

Accomplishments: His interest in mechanical engineering blossomed during his youth on a farm and helping his father maintain the farm machinery. His acquired knowledge about mechanics which has fueled his interest in mechanical engineering technology. His dedication and persistence is noted by UWGB faculty.

Brianna Messner (Sr. Mathematics and Spanish, from Seymour, Wis.) receiving the Science and Mathematics Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Member of the Phoenix soccer team, Spanish Club, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the freshman honor society Phi Eta Sigma, and Phi Kappa Phi — the academic honor society dedicated to the recognition and promotion of academic excellence in all fields of higher education. As a freshman she presented at the Academic Excellence Symposium after working closely with Prof. Greg Davis on a study regarding math and sports.

Ashley Morin (Sr. Animal Biology and Ecology and Conservation Biology major, Niagara, Wis.) received the Herbert Fisk Johnson Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Worked with a graduate student through electrofishing of Green Bay tributaries, performing seine hauls, and conducting fyke net surveys. Assisted the DNR with duck banding at the George W. Mead Wildlife Area. Volunteered to restore the Keith White Prairie on campus, and assisted with the prescribed burn last November. She has worked for the USDA-Wildlife Services on research related to wolf depredation on livestock for the past two years. Inducted in 2014 to the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society.

Joshua Moyer (Sr. Cellular and Molecular Biology major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Ganga and Elizabeth Nair Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Working with graduate student Samantha Nellis on performing research looking at microbial populations in nectar. He was inducted into the TriBeta, Phi Eta Sigma and Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Societies. He volunteers with his church’s confirmation program. He plans on finishing his undergraduate degree in Biology, and then pursuing higher education in graduate or medical school.

Matthew Nichols (Sr. Chemistry and Individual major, Wausau, Wis.) receiving the Northeast Wisconsin Engineering Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Interned for the past two summers at the Marathon County Health Laboratory where he performed bacteriological and chemical laboratory testing on private drinking water, sewage effluent, hotel pools, and hotel whirlpools. Volunteered for the DNR as a lake water quality monitor in Lincoln County for the past two summers. Currently working on a research project with Prof. Ryan Holzem to provide the company ProfitProAG with a performance evaluation on their Manure MasterTM product. Member of UWGB Nordic ski team, serving as captain for three years. His goal is a career in environmental engineering or environmental science, focusing on water quality.

Kenzie Ostien (Fr. Environmental Science major, Appleton, Wis.) receiving the Carol R. De Groot Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Passionate about environmental topics such as agriculture, alternative energy resources, and hydrology. Immersed in many organizations like the Camping and Climbing Clubs, Ballroom Dancing Club and intramurals. Volunteer for Good Times Programming (GTP).

Eric Short (Jr. Environmental Engineering Technology major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Dykema Family Endowed Scholarship and the Superior Diesel Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Has balanced work in a construction company for five years, and in a bakery for two years, while taking classes at NWTC. Aspirations for a career in environmental engineering technology.

Jeremiah Shrovnal (Sr. Ecology and Conservation Biology major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the James E. Casperson Memorial Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Actively engaged, and current president of UWGB’s American Fisheries Society, which has provided him many opportunities such as assisting in a Manitowoc based pre-restoration, working at the Strawberry Weir fishery, catching and documenting returning Chinook Salmon, sampling larval Lake Whitefish on the Menominee River, monitoring Northern Pike populations in the Green Bay wetlands, and attending the Wisconsin state chapter conference of the American Fisheries Society. Involved with Round River Alliance on campus, along with HIVE, and SLO. Last summer he researched the spider communities in Phragmites in Green Bay, and volunteered for Nicolet National Forest Bird Survey. Inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor society. Has plans to apply to graduate school to study terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems’ ecology, conservation, and restoration.

Angela Smet (Jr. Environmental Science major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Katie Hemauer Memorial Scholarship and the Herbert Fisk Johnson Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Volunteered this past summer 230+hours as a National Park Volunteer for Pictured Rocks in Munising, Michigan. Taught as a graduate mentor for the TRIO and Precollege Comparative Anatomy students this past summer. Working with Dr. Franklin Chen in researching the effects of the polymers on sand soil nutrient retention property using EDTA titration route. Inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honor Societies in 2015. Hopes to use her background in Environmental Science to understand the negative health effects to humans at home and across the globe.

Benjamin Stratman (Fr. Pre-engineering major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Northeast Wisconsin Engineering First Year Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Contributed to the Einstein Science Expo by building and testing models present at the expo, and helped build a pitching machine and a billiard ball machine. Was a state championship qualifier for Bay Port High School. Active member of church functions at Celebration Church and St. John the Baptist parish. Will participate in a 10-day mission trip to India this spring. His goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Sahara Tanner (Sr. Environmental Science major, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Morgan/Macaluso Family Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Represented the Wisconsin Farmers Union in the National Famers Union Washington D.C. Fly-In in fall 2013. Was a teaching assistant for Prof. Patrick Fosythe’s Introduction to Environmental Science course. Worked with Prof. Mathew Dornbush and graduate student Brianna Kupsky on the Cat Island/Duck Creek Habitat Restoration Research Project. Managed UWGB’s organic garden as co-president of Sustainable Local Organic (SLO) Food Alliance. Works with Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, helping with events such as the prairie burn, and organizing/consolidating data from numerous Green Bay research projects. Recently returned from a study abroad trip to Panama.

Emily Vandersteen (Jr. Ecology and Conservation biology major, De Pere, Wis.) receiving Moose Lodge Rod and Gun Club Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Worked for the Door County Soil and Water Department as a conservation LTE, where she managed and controlled terrestrial invasive plant species. Currently serves the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity and its campus natural areas. Tutors biology and environmental science students. Active volunteer at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. She hopes to acquire a position with the DNR or U.S. Fish and Wildlife after graduation.

James Vasquez (Jr. Mechanical Engineering Technology, Green Bay, Wis.) receiving the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance Future All-Stars Annual Scholarship and the Lee and Kathy Anderson Endowed Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Worked full time in manufacturing for more than five years at Krueger International in Green Bay. Is s transfer student from UW-Milwaukee and aspires to graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering technology. Said a faculty member, “James’ engineering judgment, while still developing, is at the top of his class.”

Touhue Yang (Sr. Humanistic Studies and Ecology and Conservation Biology major, Suamico, Wis.) receiving the Bradford L. Cook Memorial Scholarship.

Accomplishments: Worked as a student intern for the Aquatic Ecology and Fisheries Lab at UW-Green Bay. Currently assisting a graduate student on looking at the distribution of larval fish in Green Bay and is organizing, enumerating and identifying the larval fish samples. Currently working with Prof. Patrick Forsythe examining the distribution of zooplankton in Green Bay. Active volunteers with the Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay. Has plans to pursue a master’s degree.


Breaking the ice to spread the rice

Researchers from UW-Green Bay had to break skim ice on a cold morning in mid-November to do it, but they took another big step in a grant-funded pilot project to restore native wild rice, bulrush and wild celery stands to the lower bay.

Students, staff and faculty from UW-Green Bay’s Natural and Applied Sciences unit are behind the effort to seed areas near the mouth of Duck Creek as a first step in returning the desirable plants (for both birds and fish). UW-Green Bay received a $225,000 federal grant, in partnership with Ducks Unlimited, to pursue the habitat improvements in the lee of the new Cat Island Chain breakwater. The work will establish what size plantings are optimal, at what water depths, and the best means (seeding or plugs).

“This is an amazingly unique project on a global scale,” Prof. Matt Dornbush told Wisconsin Public Radio. “This type of stuff really hasn’t been done. So what we’re hoping to do is really try to develop restoration strategies. How do you actually restore these marsh communities to an area this big?” The project will encompass 1,400 acres (more than two square miles), and will take three years.

Top photo: right to left:
· Brianna Kupsky, current ES&P graduate student who is leading the “rice project.”
· Josh Martinez, former ES&P graduate student, now a wildlife biologist with the DNR.
· John Huff: Natural Resources Area Supervisor with the DNR.

Click to advance slideshow or view the album on Flickr.
Duck Creek Rice Planting - Nov. 17, 2015

– Photos by Reena Bowman, ES&P graduate student and Fish and Wildlife employee

Always Climb Higher author Pagels ’87 featured in P-G 

In the most recent edition of our Inside UW-Green Bay print magazine, we highlighted alumnus Jeff Pagels’ success as an inspirational author, speaker, Olympic-caliber athlete, natural-resource manager for the DNR and all-around good guy. Pagels has used a wheelchair since 1984. His 2014 book about his comeback from severe spinal cord injury, Always Climb Higher, is the topic of a recent Green Bay Press-Gazette article.

Healing habitats: Grant to build comprehensive plan for fish, wildlife

wolf-howe-top-storyMore than a dozen undergraduate and graduate students have a tremendous opportunity to work alongside UW-Green Bay Professors Bob Howe and Amy Wolf on a comprehensive plan to improve fish and wildlife habitat in the region.

Howe, Wolf and UWGB staff, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), are the recipients of a $471,000 Environmental Protection Agency/Department of Natural Resources grant to study fish and wildlife conditions and threats in what is termed the “Lower Green Bay and Fox River Area of Concern” and its immediately contributing watershed.

“This project is important for our region because it will yield one of the most, if not the most, specific plans for improving fish and wildlife habitat in the lower Bay and Fox River,” said Howe.

Howe considers the assessment, and the recommendations vital to the future regional economy and quality of life.

“Although the AOC is clearly degraded, more and more evidence has shown that this is a ‘world class’ site for freshwater fish, colonial and migratory birds, and other wildlife species,” said Howe. “I view Green Bay as comparable to Chesapeake Bay on the East Coast and San Francisco Bay on the West Coast — places where natural resources have experienced degradation, but places where these resources are still very much alive and are vital to the future local economy and quality of life,” he said.

Lower Green Bay and the Fox River below the DePere Dam comprise one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC’s) designated in 1987 by the International Joint Commission of Canada and the United States through the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The ultimate goal of the UWGB/TNC project is to help develop a strategy for improving conditions in the AOC so that it can be removed or “de-listed” from its impaired status.

Loss of fish and wildlife habitat is one of the most significant reasons why the Lower Green Bay and Fox River AOC was designated as an AOC. Documented (WDNR) causes of ecological and economic impairment of the Lower Green Bay and Fox River AOC include:
• habitat destruction and fragmentation due to urban and industrial development and stream channelization;
• dredging and filling of aquatic habitats along the Fox River corridor;
• wetland degradation from human activity and changing water levels;
• disruption of hydrologic connectivity by road construction and other human activities;
• loss of submerged aquatic vegetation in the Duck Creek delta area of the lower Bay because of turbid water and hyper eutrophication;
• destruction of barrier islands in the Cat Island Chain by high water and storms;
• reduction in underwater plants and littoral vegetation by invasive carp;
• silt deposition and re-suspension of sediments in the Lower Bay; and
spread of invasive plant species.

Alongside UWGB staff members Erin Giese, Michael Stiefvater, Kimberlee McKeefry, and Bobbie Webster, Howe and Wolf are working with students on this two-year, two-phase project to comprehensively assess existing habitat conditions and formulate a protection and restoration plan in the affected areas.

In each phase, UW-Green Bay students will be able to assist the faculty and staff members and Wisconsin DNR and TNC collaborators in their comprehensive research and development of the plan.

Phase One, the assessment portion of the project, will focus primarily on finding, organizing and evaluating existing data related to fish and wildlife populations in the AOC. Information will be compiled from a wide variety of sources, including local experts, on historical conditions, habitat dynamics, restoration opportunities and threats in the lower Bay and Fox River.

Phase Two goals include synthesis of the information, creating a blueprint for protection and restoration activities; identifying specific opportunities for protection, restoration and rehabilitation of fish and wildlife habitat; cataloging past projects to assess their contribution towards delisting thresholds and developing monitoring protocols for measuring the status of fish and wildlife habitat to document the success or failure of specific remediation projects.

Proposers say the project will “test the utility of objective metrics for the ultimate purpose of informing decision-makers at local, regional and national levels, particularly those making decisions involving the status, protection and restoration of fish and wildlife habitat in other Great Lakes Areas of Concern.”

Work began in fall of 2014 and will continue through August of 2016. This project is particularly significant because it adds to a long-standing and growing involvement of UW-Green Bay scientists and students in solving problems of water quality, ecological health, and economic viability of Green Bay and the Great Lakes in general. Other recent grants by UWGB Natural and Applied Sciences professors Kevin Fermanich, Mike Zorn, Matt Dornbush, Patrick Forsythe and others, demonstrates the important role of UWGB in helping improve environmental quality in the Green Bay ecosystem.

Video: Northern pike spawning, and a grad student’s project

Fox 11 News and reporter Eric Peterson ran a nice feature story last week about local research on spawning activity and habitat for northern pike, a popular game fish. Featured in the piece was UW-Green Bay graduate student Rachel Van Dam, who works with Associate Prof. Patrick Forsythe and is pursing her master’s in Environmental Science and Policy. Van Dam was netting and measuring fish at a restored spawning wetland on the west shore. Her work represents collaboration involving the University, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, the state DNR, the Nature Conservancy and Brown County.

Fermanich a featured presenter at Great Lakes water conference

Water quality and runoff expert Kevin Fermanich, professor of Natural and Applied Sciences, will co-present with Prof. Val Klump of UW-Milwaukee later this week at a major regional conference on the Great Lakes. Their topic is “Lake Michigan’s Green Bay: Why the Dead Zone? What is Needed to Prevent it?” Fermanich has been a key contributor to watershed runoff studies in the Green Bay area, examining phosphorous loading and the resulting low-oxygen conditions that yield so-called “dead zones.” Other case studies will look at Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay and Toledo’s Lake Erie drinking water problems, among other topics. The conference is the second Great Lakes Science-Policy Confluence Conference presented by The Environmental Law & Policy Center in collaboration with Loyola University and Northwestern University’s Institute for Sustainability and Energy.

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He’s also a panelist at Green Bay ‘Phosphorus Summit’ — U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp are convening a “Phosphorus Summit” to take place from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 1, at the Neville Public Museum in downtown Green Bay. UW-Green Bay Prof. Kevin Fermanich is an invited panelist on the topic of curbing nonpoint pollution. Also taking part will be dairy industry and turfgrass representatives, agency water quality specialists and a representative of NEW Water.

That’s a wrap: Students keep ton of plastic bags out of waste stream

top-plastic-film-recycleIt hasn’t even been on campus for a year, but the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay plastic film recycling program has already processed the equivalent of nearly one million plastic bags.

“We’ve recycled somewhere between 1800 and 2200 pounds of plastic film,” said former student intern Matthew Malcore. “Not all of it has been just plastic bags, but assuming the weight of a plastic bag is 5.5 grams, this equals the weight of between 816,000 and 997,900 plastic bags. Approaching the weight of one million plastic bags in under a year, just at a community level. That is pretty amazing to me,” Malcore said.

The goal of the plastic film recycling program is to keep plastic films, such as grocery bags and pallet wrap, from the waste stream. When not collected separately, the films can pose problems. If thrown into the garbage can, the plastic film would end up in a landfill, but attempting to recycle it along with plastic or glass containers and paper, could clog the sorting machines at the recycling facility, which are typically designed to handle rigid materials.

“Aware of this problem, we were searching for a better solution,” said Felix Pohl, sustainability communications manager. “If we collect plastic films separately, they do not pose a problem in the waste stream and furthermore the material can be re-purposed by specialized recycling companies.”

In order to accomplish this, an Environmental Management and Business Institute (EMBI) intern took on the job.

“One of our former interns in the EMBI internship program had made contact with Zeus Recycling from Sheboygan regarding plastic film recycling and wondered if EMBI could assist in providing intern support to Zeus in order to launch a pilot program on plastic film recycling here on campus,” said John Arendt, EMBI Associate Director. “Utilizing the Great Lakes Internship Initiative grant, EMBI offered student Matthew Malcore to provide Zeus with that help to begin the plastic film pilot.”

The program officially began on March 1, 2014, when 12 drop-off boxes, provided by Green Bay Packaging, were placed in various locations around campus, including 10 in public areas and two in maintenance areas.

“As we essentially started the program without any particular funding, we utilized donated cardboard containers and mounted self-made signs on them,” said Pohl.

story-plastic-filmAs the student intern, Malcore (pictured at left) was in charge of collecting the plastic film at each of the collection points, sorting, and baling the material. Beginning halfway through the fall 2014 semester, Malcore has been helping to transfer the management of the program to the Public and Environmental Affairs Council (PEAC).

“A significant part of our outreach was to involve the students from PEAC, a great student organization bringing together students from all over campus who share a genuine concern for how we build our future in the face of environmental challenges,” said Pohl.

Malcore, a member of PEAC, will be helping the organization to continue the program.

“As PEAC is now the group responsible for the program, I will be continuously training members on how to collect, differentiate and bale the plastic,” said Malcore.

The program was implemented October of 2014, starting with bins placed in the laundry rooms of residence halls.

“Some bins were packed full after the first week and others took a bit longer to fill,” said Kayla Billet, Residence Life Eco-intern and Co-leader of the Residence Green Life Committee, “The committee members then bring the collected plastic film to the larger collection box in the Community Center. From there the organization PEAC does the collecting and packaging for further recycling.”

The program’s popularity has spread past the boundaries of campus as well.

“Currently, the popularity of plastic film is growing throughout the state, said Arendt, “We have seen other campuses start programs, but UW-Green Bay was the first. K-12 schools are taking on recycling, and the Wisconsin DNR is promoting the program.”

Plastic film recycling programs are a step in the right direction, but according to Malcore, eliminating all use of these plastics is the best solution.

“Single-use plastics have become a growing problem, especially as pollutants of the oceans,” said Malcore, “Using cloth bags instead of plastic bags and re-using water bottles instead of purchasing new ones constantly is always preferable to using single-use plastics. Even though more of the single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, increases the amount of material we reclaim and technically makes the program more profitable, PEAC is an environmental organization and the purpose of both the organization and the program is to reduce environmental impact.”

In the coming months, the program will start diverting the plastic film to TREX Decking in order for the film to find new life in the form of park benches and decks.

“This program provides the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to first think about plastic film not as waste but as a resource and to actively divert it from the landfill,” said Arendt, “This is education in action.”
Story by Katelyn Staaben, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication