Kelleys Island Collaborative is searching for new opportunities in 2023 and beyond.Kelleys Island group photo


Despite living on the shores of a Great Lake, too many of our local students have no meaningful intellectual or emotional connections with freshwater in general or Lake Erie in particular. The Collaborative is designed to cultivate groups of students from northeast Ohio in grades 7-12 who will become environmental stewards and care for the places they live and go to school.

From 2015-2019 we built a teacher professional development program with funding from the Ohio Environmental Education Fund, the Bruening Foundation, and the White Foundation. The weeklong professional development program for middle and high school teachers consisted of three days and two nights on Kelleys Island and two days at the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek focusing on issues of nutrient loading, harmful algal blooms, and storm water runoff. In the fall, each teacher brought a learning community (teacher plus 10-15 of their students) to Kelleys Island for three days and two nights and to West Creek for one day to develop community action projects the learning communities will work on with their classmates through the remainder of the year.

In 2019, a group of veteran Collaborative teachers from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District extended the field-based experience by developing a model system that can be used to bring Lake Erie into local classrooms. This model system is designed to allow students to conduct inquiry-based  investigations into important issues like reducing nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful algal blooms and managing storm water runoff.


Much has changed in the world due to the pandemic. The Kelleys Island Field Station is no longer hosting residential programs, so the Gelfand STEM Center is actively searching for other partners that can host a Lake Erie-based, multi-day experience for groups of 25-40 middle or high school students. We have not lost our commitment to a healthy Lake Erie and will continue to explore options to build relationships between Cleveland youth and our Great Lake.

Contact Jim Bader if you have a brilliant idea (; (216) 368-5289)