Bindu Bhakta

Michigan State University Extension Conservation Stewards Program


Member profile details

Membership level
4. Program Membership - Active and Renewal
First name
Last name
Natural Resources Extension Educator
Michigan State University Extension
Address 1
North Office Building, Bldg. #26E,
Address 2
1200 N. Telegraph Road
Zip Code
Cell phone
Program Name
Michigan State University Extension Conservation Stewards Program
Program Mission
The mission of the Conservation Stewards Program is to deliver high quality, locally-based training opportunities to develop informed Michigan residents who will practice community-based volunteer conservation management activities.
Program Description (include how it meets membership criteria)
CSP is an intensive volunteer training and leadership program designed to educate/engage citizens in ecosystem-based management and citizen science activities through high-quality community-based learning and volunteer conservation opportunities. Participants use the science-based knowledge they gain to understand, promote, support and actively contribute to and/or lead significant conservation management and outreach activities to support their communities. The program is a collaborative effort among community-based volunteers and partners, leading conservation organizations and agencies, and educational institutions throughout Michigan.
This collaboration results is a network of dedicated, well-prepared and organized volunteers integrally connected to local conservation needs and biodiversity. These volunteers will engage in informed, scientifically-based conservation activities to enhance resource management and sustain healthy ecosystems across Michigan, including land and water management, ecological monitoring, restoration, and public education. The network will be supported by an “academy” of statewide and local learning communities with colleagues from across Michigan who have expertise in the science of conservation stewardship.

CSP has been in existence since it was piloted in 2006. Each program consists of 7 evening sessions and 2 full-day field sessions adding up to over 40 hours of instruction, including the completion of an in-class capstone project requirement. CSP provides learning and stewardship opportunities for citizens to:
• Gain knowledge in natural resources ecology and conservation management
• Gain knowledge and experience with ecosystem-based management
• Explore one’s own attitudes and diverse attitudes of others towards natural resource management and the affiliated state and local agencies, organizations and institutions
• Gain skills necessary to complete conservation management activities
• Contribute to existing natural resources stewardship activities
Program Partners
Michigan State University/Michigan State University Extension program partners include members of the MSUE Greening Michigan Institute (GMI) Natural Resources work group, MSU Departments of Community Sustainability, Institute of Water Research, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Local community partners include various entities that are part of County Government such as the Oakland County Planning and Economic Development Services and the County Parks system, along with regional park systems such as the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, local land conservancies, watershed groups, conservation districts, nature centers, and other conservation-oriented groups. Partners vary slightly for each program.
Curriculum (general objectives and topics, types of instructors, and planned time frame)
Topics include:
• Introduction to Michigan Conservation Stewards Program & Michigan Conservation
Heritage- 6 hours.
• Ecological Foundations- 3 hours
• Making Choices to Manage Natural Resources- 3 hrs.
• Forestland Ecosystems and Management- 3 hrs.
• Grassland Ecosystems and Management- 3 hrs.
• Terrestrial Field Experience- 6 hours
• Lake and Stream Ecosystems and Management- 3 hrs.
• Wetland Ecosystems and Management- 3 hrs.
• Conservation “Hot” Topics- 3 hrs.
• Aquatic Field Experience- 6 hrs.
• Putting it All Together: Capstone Project Presentations Part I and Volunteer Expo- 3 hrs.
• Capstone Project Presentation Part II, Final Reflections and “Ecosystems Services” Commencement lecture- 4 hrs.
Describe the service component of your program
Participants earn their Certification as Conservation Stewards by completing the core curriculum (in class lectures and outdoor field sessions) as well as 40 hours of volunteer conservation service (toward which participants can count hours they spent working on their in-class capstone projects) within one year. To recertify in subsequent years, Stewards are required to complete 8 hours of advanced training in addition to 20 hours of volunteer conservation service.

In addition, there is Volunteer Expo session, in which a variety of community conservation organizations are invited to share available volunteer opportunities as well as educational offerings which participants may attend in order to fulfill their advanced training hours requirement required for recertification.
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