Mark Warman

Home state: Ohio Organization or Facility: Cleveland Metroparks Primary age group(s) with whom you work: K-College, Professionals
Describe your current role as an informal educator. How does your role support the mission of the organization?

My role is the Hydrilla Project Coordinator, formerly a Naturalist, and my team defends Lake Erie from the world’s perfect water weed, hydrilla.

This role takes me all over the Lake Erie watershed in Ohio. My small team and I hunt for aquatic invasive plants and we encourage others to participate in our regional dragnet.  We bring plants, identification books and sampling equipment as we introduce groups of all ages to aquatic plants at a body of water near them. Since most folks are not familiar with flowering plants underwater, I rely on my Naturalist background to make “seaweeds” interesting and relevant.

The first topic mentioned in Cleveland Metroparks mission is to conserve significant natural resources. With our surveys and outreach we increase our chances for early detection and rapid response to invasive species.

How did you get to where you are? Describe the career path that lead to your current position.

A background in Biology and Sustainability helped land my first job cleaning up the Cuyahoga River with a small non-profit in Cleveland. I gravitated toward outreach and so when a seasonal position opened at the Watershed Stewardship Center in Cleveland Metroparks I saw an opportunity to fuel a passion. After three years of connecting neighbors to their urban watersheds and sharing the benefits of stormwater management I earned a field-based position in natural resources. It is rewarding to be an active scientist and a privilege to share the research with others.

Describe a favorite Great Lakes activity or event that you do or facilitate.

I helped plan, and acted as biologist, for the North Olmsted Middle School students as they assessed the health of the Rocky River using biological and chemical indicators in 2016-2017. I collaborated with a math teacher I met at the Ohio Sea Grant Educator’s workshop to borrow the Hydrolab (thanks Limno Loan program!) and use equipment that our park scientists use to investigate waterways. Students returned to the same site three times throughout the school year to replicate the survey. At the end of the year, the students presented data and recommendations to parents, school board members, teachers and administrators in an open house.

This program brought together local experts and real scientific equipment in a place-based lesson that concluded with civic engagement. It drew together everything so nicely and thinking back on it just makes me happy.

If relevant, how does your work complement what K-12 science educators are doing in the classroom?

I am out in the water every day in the spring, summer, and early fall. I take temperatures and depths, squish sediments through my fingers. I map routes and take GPS points, tally species and estimate density, toss rakes in the water, assess the threats of doing nothing and the impacts of management actions.  Topics from ecology to evolution, math, writing, communication, chemistry via herbicides, and physics. It’s all present.

My daily activities have a concept, or three, that compliment a K-12 classroom curriculum. It just takes a bit of time at the front end to figure out if the work aligns to a science educator’s needs.

What is the most important message about the Great Lakes you share with visitors, students, citizens, etc.?

To have the Great Lakes in our backyard is a cool responsibility to enjoy.

Contact Mark Warman: mjw1@clevelandmetroparks.com