"We are thrilled to be a part of this monumental project. This grant gives us the opportunity to provide new public outreach opportunities and encourage stewardship of Lake Erie through enhanced biology, ecology and microbiology courses."
– Sr. Marya Czech, SND, Assistant Professor of Biology at Lourdes and Cluster Coordinator for Lake Erie West
As the largest surface freshwater system on the Earth, the Great Lakes provide 84 percent of North America's fresh water supply and 20 percent of the world's. The Great Lakes also offer irreplaceable economic wealth to the region. With nearly 95,000 miles of water and 20,000 miles of shoreline, the Great Lakes Basin is home to:
- 30 percent of Canada's population
- 10 percent of the Unites States population
- 25 percent of Canadian agricultural production
- 7 percent of American farm production
Despite their abundant size and wealth of resources, the Great lakes are extremely sensitive to the effects of wide range pollution and over-development. Toxic pollution in the form of soil runoff from farm chemicals and agricultural lands, waste from cities, industrial emissions and liquid from landfill sites put major stresses on the Great Lakes.
Addressing threats to the Great Lakes is complicated due to the fact that the Great Lakes Basin encompasses parts of two nations – the United States and Canada. However, the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement at Harrisburg University has stepped up to champion the cause. The organization recently launched the Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship through Education Network (GLISTEN).
The goal of GLISTEN is to improve and strengthen water and air quality, conservation and other environmental issues threatening the Great Lakes Basin. In order to achieve these goals, the project has engaged a group of colleges and universities from eight states and two Canadian provinces – including Lourdes College.
Lourdes' Department of Biology & Health Sciences was awarded a $45,000 grant from GLISTEN in order to lead the "Green Water/Gray Economy Project." Through this project, the College will:
- Establish the Western Lake Erie cluster
- Encourage stewardship of Lake Erie through biology, ecology and microbiology courses
- Implement area-wide service learning initiatives
- Address algal overgrowth in the Western Basin due to contaminants