GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — With a grant from the DTE Foundation, the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative is helping prepare Michigan educators to discuss climate change with their students.

GLSI was formed in 2007 to create the next generation of stewards of the Great Lakes and their ecosystems by educating students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The DTE Foundation recently reached out to GLSI to apply for the grant.

“We heard about the wonderful work that they are doing in West Michigan and (we) just thought it fit perfectly in our strategy, so it was really us reaching out to them to help do some really important work on the west side of the state,” Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Foundation, said.

GLSI said the $10,000 grant will be used to offer a four-session virtual professional learning event for teachers and community partners throughout the state to help better communicate about climate change with students.

“We’re trying to help teachers with some questions they might have right now,” Mary Whitmore, executive director of GLSI, said. “How can we talk about climate change without it being scary or depressing for kids? How do we dispel some of the common myths about climate change? And how do we have conversations with students about climate crisis?”

Whitmore said the four sessions will have varied focuses:

  • October: Brief overview of climate change, communication tools and strategies for educators and students.
  • November: How to apply what is learned in the workshop in the classroom and how to support fellow educators.
  • December: Sharing what teachers are planning to do and workshop in small groups.
  • May: Celebrate what has been accomplished.

The sessions will be targeting middle school and high school students but Whitmore also encouraged elementary school teachers to attend.

“If you know anything about elementary kids, you know that they have a lot of questions about what’s going on in the world and what’s going on around them. Many of these communication strategies that we’re talking about during this workshop can be used effectively with younger students,” she said.

“Our hope is that this gives these students a curiosity about how you can use STEM education to problem solve,” Dowler said.

Any educators who would like to register for the professional learning events or to get more information are asked to call 231.526.7407 or email