BURLINGTON, Vt. – The International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) has recognized David Poulson, the senior associate director of Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism, for a career-long dedication to inform and educate the public and policymakers on Great Lakes issues.
The IAGLR board of directors recognized him with the John R. (Jack) Vallentyne award given for contributing substantially to education and outreach in the Great Lakes community for at least 20 years and with an impact beyond the awardee’s local community.
Poulson received the award at the association’s recent 58th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research. Christine Manninen, the communications director for the Great Lakes Commission and a graduate of the Knight Center’s masters program, presented it. She is also IAGLR’s new communications and outreach committee chair.
“Dave is well-respected by his colleagues and his contributions are highly valued by those in the Great Lakes science and policy communities,” Manninen said.
John Gannon, a retired research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, nominated Poulson.
“IAGLR members and Great Lakes researchers at large benefit from Dave’s contributions and leadership in promoting the highest values of fairness and accuracy in reporting on Great Lakes research, outreach and education,” Gannon said in his nomination. “His contributions illustrate the true spirit and intent of the IAGLR Vallentyne Award.”
The award recognizes people who bridge the gap between the science community and the public. Recipients can be engaged with any great lake in the world, including the North American Great Lakes and the African Great Lakes.
Poulson said, “I always figured that environmental science is far too important, far too interesting and way too much fun to leave only to scientists, researchers and policymakers. I’m honored to receive this award and also pleased that IAGLR recognizes journalism as critical to engaging the public with the environmental challenges of the world.”
Prior to returning to MSU in 2003 to join the Journalism School faculty, Poulson reported on the environment in the U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes region for more than 22 years as a professional journalist.
He currently serves on the board of directors of the Society of Environmental Journalists.
“When dealing with Dave, I can always expect thoughtful questions and rigorous analysis,” Dave Dempsey, a policy adviser to the International Joint Commission, wrote in a letter supporting the nomination. “Tens of thousands of people in the Great Lakes basin have benefited from his contribution to understanding of the all-important issues facing our freshwater seas.”
At MSU Poulson teaches environmental journalism, using tools as diverse as drones, satellite imagery, geographic information systems, experiential learning and non-traditional reporting techniques.
He has created three online Great Lakes environmental news services. The first one, the Great Lakes Environmental Wire – or GLEW – was launched in 1995. The second, Great Lakes Wiki, received national recognition in 2007 with a Knight-Batten Journalism Award for innovations in journalism. The current one, Great Lakes Echo, was recognized in 2011 with a Great Laker Award for excellence in environmental reporting from the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.
Great Lakes Echo is a resource and research site for non-traditional environmental reporting, a teaching tool and a significant contributor of original Great Lakes reporting online and in publications throughout the basin.
“I’m a great admirer of Dave Poulson, his work with students and professionals, and his forward-thinking approach to environmental journalism,” Lester Graham, formerly the senior editor of The Environment Report/Great Lakes Radio Consortium and now an investigative reporter with Michigan Radio, wrote in supporting the nomination. “He has taught and trained students to become the new journalistic voice for science and the environment, which will benefit the public for decades to come.”
The Vallentyne award is named for the late John R. (Jack) Vallentyne, a longtime IAGLR member with a long and distinguished career as a scientist who dedicated decades of work to education and outreach.