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Sustainability and community engagement in Northwest Michigan

By Eric Freedman

MSU Northern Michigan Horticulture Research Center  Image: Eric Freedman

MSU Northern Michigan Horticulture Research Center. Image: Eric Freedman

What do a trail system linking Northwest Michigan communities, a small-scale organic vegetable farm that supplies local restaurants with fresh produce, citizen-scientists alert for invasive aquatics, apple researchers and critics of an oil pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac have in common?

All are part of a drive for environmental sustainability and all involve some form of community engagement.

As Knight Chair in Environmental Journalism, I was part of a recent Sustainable Michigan Endowed Project study tour in the Cadillac-Traverse City-Leelanau Peninsula area. Continue reading

An elusive eclipse

By Kate Habrel

Watching the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Watching the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Image: Jim Detjen

Even weeks after August’s summer eclipse, people are still talking about it.

I was in Sussex, Wisconsin, with my family when it happened. I’d spent the month leading up to it reading stories of how spectacular it would be, even for those not in the path of totality.

Many looked forward to the eclipse in a similar manner.

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Field trip: Teaching journalists and scientists on two continents

Malawi researcher Phillip Kamwendo, with hat, explains experiment in groundnut production to African journalists . Image: David Poulson

Malawi researcher Phillip Kamwendo, with hat, explains crop experiments to African journalists . Image: David Poulson

By David Poulson

Phillip Kamwendo finished explaining to a group of African reporters how he used “friendly bacteria” to improve groundnut seeds.

Then the Malawi researcher turned to a nearby team led by Michigan State University experts, flashed them a wide grin and gave them two thumbs up. It was a highlight for our team that had worked for days with Kamwendo and others at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) to refine how to explain their research.

“When he asked the reporters how many of them understood what an innoculant was, I felt like a proud grandmother,” said Emmanuella Delva, a program officer with USAID, the project’s funder,  and who pitched in on the training.

Amol Pavangadkar, director of MSU's Sandbox Studios, explains video production techniques to Malawian journalists

Amol Pavangadkar, director of MSU’s Sandbox Studios, explains video production techniques to Malawian journalists. Image: David Poulson

The work in Malawi was the start of a two-continent, three-country training tour that I’m still on.  I’m in Rwanda now, working with other scientists – including two MSU alums – at the International Potato Center to help them explain their research story to funders and others. Next week I’m in Lima, Peru, doing the same thing at that center’s South American headquarters.

The work in Malawi was by far the most complex. Continue reading

Knight Center alum nabs byline in Audubon

Andy McGlashen

Andy McGlashen

Knight Center alum Andy McGlashen has a story in Audubon about how even a little bit of oil can make it hard for birds to fly.

McGlashen recently started an editorial fellowship with the birding publication in New York City. He is the former communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council.

His freelance reporting has appeared in Scientific American, Midwest Energy News, Bridge Magazine, The Daily Climate, Environmental Health News  and other publications.

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