The Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education:Working to Protect the Environment in Minnesota and the Great Lakes

The Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education:Working to Protect the Environment in Minnesota and the Great Lakes

By: Jenny Tahtinen

In each issue of the newsletter, GLAHNF profiles one of its Advisory Panel Members or Hub coordinators. In this issue we are pleased to tell you about Jenny Tahtinen and the Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education. Jenny became our Minnesota Hub coordinator in January 2003.

As Projects Coordinator for the Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education (EAGLE) and the Minnesota Hub for GLAHNF, Jenny Tahtinen has been able to fulfill her goal of working to protect the environment in her own backyard. Growing up in Duluth, Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior, a love of the outdoors and of the lake was instilled in her early on in life. “Living in northern Minnesota and being able to see Lake Superior every day taught me an immeasurable appreciation for the natural world and has given me a great quality of life. I only hope that people fifty years from now are lucky enough to receive the same gift.” Graduating from Macalester College with a degree in environmental studies and a focus in biology, Jenny headed back north, her training as a scientist and her activist ideals in tow.

Working with EAGLE since November of 2002, Jenny has realized just how important it is to have a strong environmental voice in the Great Lakes Basin-on a local, regional, statewide, and international scale. “Protecting the Great Lakes is now more important than ever. It’s a do or die situation, and the work we are doing is necessary to ensure the future health of the lakes and the citizens of the region. I am thrilled to be a part of the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat Network and Fund during this crucial time.”

Two grassroots women activists founded EAGLE in 1994 in order to provide education and promote activism aimed at protecting and restoring the Great Lakes ecosystem. Since its inception, EAGLE has worked to increase awareness of critical environmental issues in the Great Lakes region. EAGLE promotes leadership training and skills development and provides technical assistance and consulting services to people throughout the Basin.

EAGLE has sponsored workshops aimed at increasing citizen advocacy on issues such as sustainable development, women’s health issues, and land use issues. EAGLE formed the Great Lakes Women’s Leadership Network (GLWLN), a coalition of thousands of women around the region committed to the environment, and developing women’s roles in protecting it. As the education outlet for the Green Thumb Project, EAGLE held more than 40 community workshops educating businesses, institutions, and local homeowners on environmentally safe lawn care in order to decrease chemical runoff into the Lake Superior watershed.

EAGLE has sought to be a central resource for organizations and citizens in northeastern Minnesota, and to that end, developed the EcoSource project. Ecosource is Minnesota’s most comprehensive listing of environmental organizations, and includes information on local groups, events and issues. Each year, EAGLE also coordinates the Living Green Conference, a networking and informational conference that brings in hundreds of citizens as well as environmental professionals.

After the success of the EcoSource project, EAGLE worked with GLAHNF to develop the Great Lakes Directory as a means of strengthening the network of environmental organizations throughout the Great Lakes Basin. The Directory currently includes a collection of over one thousand environmental organizations from each state and province in the Basin. The Great Lakes Directory provides exposure to groups’ focus issues as well as funding resources, free environmental software, environmental job listings, events calendars, and a huge collection of articles pertaining to Great Lakes’ environmental issues. The Directory has become a vital resource for both the public and environmental professionals throughout the Great Lakes Basin.

Jenny Tahtinen believes that GLAHNF has played a major part in unifying and facilitating the fight to save aquatic habitats by providing funding and networking support. “EAGLE has had the honor of working with GLAHNF as the Minnesota Hub for the past three years. We have benefited tremendously through working with GLAHNF and its Advisory Panel and Hub members, a group of passionate and knowledgeable people striving toward a common goal.”

For more information on the Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education (EAGLE), go to www.eagle-ecosource.org.

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