Teacher Leadership Development for Great Lakes Watershed Stewardship: The GRAND Learning Network and Annie’s BIG Nature Lesson

Shari L. Dann, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Annie’s BIG Nature Lesson

The GRAND Learning Network is a partnership between MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability and the Annie’s BIG Nature Lesson organization. Since 2007, this partnership has offered teacher leadership professional development to more than 447 teachers, who then worked with local communities (more than 17,000 elementary students and 185 other partners) for watershed stewardship. The partners have shared decision making at almost every step in the Network’s development.

Teachers are vital actors in their school systems, whether or not they are administrators or curriculum leaders. Rather, teachers become leaders when they step out of their comfort zones to offer creative, school-community learning for their students; share their experiences with their peers; and enact change in meaningful projects with lasting environmental benefits, such as establishment of rain gardens to limit stormwater runoff and enhancing natural areas through erosion prevention, habitat improvement, or wetlands/trails management.

The GRAND Learning Network focuses on four themes in teacher professional development and student learning: Great Lakes watersheds, community, sense of place, and stewardship. The partnership has produced numerous peer-reviewed articles, case studies generated by teachers, a PBS-aired video, presentations at environmental education conferences, an invited policy article for the Governor’s State of the Great Lakes report, and best-practice guides co-developed with other institutional leaders throughout the state.