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Inspiring Connections

May 1, 2015

Alumna Deanna Erickson is inspiring connections to Lake Superior.

Working with kids, it isn’t always easy to know if you’re making a connection – and then this happens: “I do a project with students using Google Earth. They map from their homes to Lake Superior, through the rivers. Two little boys were tracing the route. Suddenly they both cried out, ‘We live in the same watershed!’ and hugged,” laughed Deanna Erickson.

As the educational coordinator for the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve, Erickson said the best part of her job is “doing work in service of the largest freshwater lake in the world and helping people see how special it is.” The reserve, in partnership with NOAA and the University of Wisconsin Extension, is the newest in the country. “It’s the second reserve on the Great Lakes, and the only one on Lake Superior.”

Erickson earned her master’s degree in environmental education from UMD in 2012 and credits the coursework with providing her with the tools to be successful. “The program gave me a choice as to what I was going to research. I chose teacher professional development. That research is directly applicable to the job I have now.”

She manages a teacher mentoring program called the Rivers2Lake and helps educators incorporate the Lake Superior watershed into their curriculum. All of it is designed to inspire “Aha!” moments in young students.

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