Cooperatove Conservation Project

Action Teams for the Environment

Engaging College Students as Environmental Citizens

Location: Midwest/Northern High Plains Region: Michigan

Project Summary: The Action Team Project assists college students in developing an awareness of environmental issues. Students build the skills necessary to take action on environmental/conservation issues.
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Resource Challenge

Conservation resource issues typically are very complex and can require the use of a variety of problems-solving skills to resolve.  College students entering my Introduction to Outdoor Recreation course at Central Michigan University frequently express feelings of being overwhelmed by the global conservation and environmental issues that we individually and as a nation face.  The Action Team Project was developed as way for students to gain the skills they need to become active, environmentally responsible citizens.  Students identify an environmental/conservation issue; form teams to research and take action on the issue; and form partnerships with local or state community groups or agencies to assist in the issue.  The timeframe for the project is three months (one semester), the framework of a college class limits the time students can be involved, although many students continue their involvement after the class ends.

As part of this project, students have been taking part in a research project to measure gains in perceptions of empowerment; problem-solving skills; and environmental awareness.  Students take a pre-/ post-test and submit final reflection papers that are guided by a series of questions related to the research topic. 

Past projects include:  Support of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the sale of public lands; partnership with the city Materials Recycling Facility to increase education/awareness of recycling; partnership with local schools to bring environmental education classes to elementary students; partnerships with local conservation groups to clean-up rivers, purchase land for preservation, prevent groundwater withdrawals that threaten the Great Lakes, educate the public about invasive species, and conserve nesting habitat for waterfowl.


Examples of Key Partners

Students interact with a variety of partners (local, state, regional, national) depending on the issue with which they choose to be involved.

Key Participants:  College students at Central Michigan University (Freshmen, Sophomores) in an Outdoor Recreation introductory class.

Past Projects have included participants from:  Cities of Mt. Pleasant, Alma, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and others; Materials Recycling Facility, Mt. Pleasant; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; Clare Public Schools; Odyssey High School; and others

Results and Accomplishments

Accomplishments include:

  • Development of the Materials Recycling Facility website to provide on-line access to recycling information for the city of Mt. Pleasant;
  • Five successful river-cleanups and the development of conservation related brochures for the local canoe livery
  • Environmental education programs for 200+ elementary students in the local schools
  • Successful land sale by the MDNR of lands not useful for recreation; provided funds to purchase/swap lands to expand Michigan's state parks
  • Development of three grade-level environmental education activity booklets with Odyssey High School for use with their nature project
  • The introduction of 480+ college students (8 years; 16 semesters) to problem-solving skills for conservation/environmental issues through the use of partnerships, community involvement, research-based decision-making, and volunteerism.
  • Education of local hunters about TB in the white-tail deer herd



The college students of today are the conservation leaders for an upcoming generation. They are faced with complex, global environmental issues that have no easy answer. The Action Team Project provides them with the skills necessary to meet the challenge of the coming years.

Project Contact
Lynn Dominguez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Central Michigan University Finch 103
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859
(989) 774-7305


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