HANCOCK -- Environmental Educator Bonnie Hay's enthusiasm and love of nature, the environment, and education is contagious. This year, Hay’s contributions to environmental stewardship and education in the Keweenaw won her the Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award.
During the July 4th celebration at Churning Rapids, Bonnie Hay, left, Gratiot Lake Conservancy executive director, receives the 2013 Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award from Terry Kinzel, founder of The Heart and Hands Society. Suzanne Van Dam, right, a member of the Heart and Hands selection committee, announces the award. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)
Founded in 1998, The Heart and Hands Society gives the award annually to acknowledge Copper Country residents who have "given of their heart and hands in the service of peace, justice, or the environment." The winner of the award is honored at the 4th of July celebration at Churning Rapids (Hancock) and receives a monetary award of $1,000, which is to be donated to the local charity of his or her choice.
"Bonnie Hay is warm, knowledgeable, and passionate about her love of nature," says Suzanne Van Dam, a member of the Heart and Hands Award selection committee. "She’s a role model for us all, showing how one individual really can make a difference. We are proud to select her for the 2013 Heart and Hands Award."
Hay has a long-standing commitment to the Keweenaw. Her grandparents emigrated to the area for work in the copper mines and she spent childhood summers here. In the early 80s, she helped with MNA (Michigan Nature Association) projects and was involved with AWAKE (Association Working Against Keweenaw Exploitation) in the early 90s. She has also been a member of KLT (Keweenaw Land Trust) for many years.
Hay has been executive director of the Gratiot Lake Conservancy (GLC) since it began in 1998. GLC is a Michigan Not-For-Profit Corporation formed in 1998 to conserve Gratiot Lake, its watershed, and environs. The Conservancy promotes informed land stewardship through education and research related to the ecology/history of the lake and nearby areas in the Keweenaw.
GLC's educational programs for both youth and adults have been Hay's responsibility. She has initiated and facilitated a variety of programs and workshops focused on the environment, including the following: Natural Shoreline Workshop (with KLT); Aquatic Ecology (MTU summer youth program); Aquatic/Wetland Plants; Astronomy; Dragonflies/Damselflies; Animal Track/Sign Identification; Artist-in-residence.
This cabin at the Gratiot Lake Noblet Field Station is the staging area for many of GLC's education and research activities that Bonnie Hay facilitates. Research internships and field studies have included Gratiot Lake clams, algae, birds, and small mammals. Students have also studied Lake chemistry and biology, the Little Gratiot River, and an old beaver dam. Other programs have focused upon creation of poetry, stories, photos, paintings, and illustrations related to the ecology. (Keweenaw Now file photo © and courtesy Jim Hay)
Bonnie Hay is also actively involved with KISMA (Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area) as a steering committee member.
Botanist Janet Marr, KISMA coordinator, says, "Bonnie’s knowledge, especially of aquatic invasive species control and management, is a huge asset to this group."
Bonnie Hay displays a bag of invasive garlic mustard she collected in Laurium during one of Janet Marr's invasive species projects.
Hay is the editor of the GLC publication Guide to the Aquatic Plants of Gratiot Lake and Other Keweenaw County Lakes. This 22-page full color handbook with accompanying CD is used by organizations and individuals interested in the ecology of U.P. inland lakes and students of GLC-sponsored wetland and aquatic classes.
GLC's award-winning website has a wealth of information contributed by Hay, which her webmaster/ photographer husband, Jim Hay, has posted there. Included are informational pages on diverse watershed topics, programming guide for workshops, and 15 years worth of GLC's information-rich newsletters (Water's Edge) that Bonnie produces and edits.*
Carol Ekstrom, Scott Rutherford are runners-up for Heart and Hands Award
Carol Ekstrom, chair of the Green Sanctuary Program at the Keweenaw Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (KUUF) and Scott Rutherford of Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) were also nominated for this year's Heart and Hands Award.
Heart and Hands Award winner Bonnie Hay, right, holding the sculpture on which winners' names are engraved, and 2013 nominees Scott Rutherford and Carol Ekstrom are honored during the July 4th celebration at Churning Rapids.
Ekstrom, while a geology professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., taught environmental geology and led students in community outreach and service learning. Since coming to the Copper Country four years ago, for "retirement," she has devoted most of her time and effort to the areas of environmental education and sustainability, spearheading and chairing the KUUF Green Sanctuary Program -- a national Unitarian program to encourage members and their community to impact the environment in a more sustainable and conscious way.
The program acted as a catalyst for KUUF to partner with KLT, the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative and the Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society in establishing the Green Film Series at Michigan Tech. Ekstrom has also provided leadership in establishing at KUUF a series of Mining Forums featuring guest speakers and open to the public.
Scott Rutherford, born and raised in Lansing, Mich., has a background in economics. During the years he was assigned to USAID in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), he became disillusioned by U.S. policies in third world countries. He eventually took early retirement and became active in the peace and justice movement, advocating non-violence. In California, he worked for the peace movement during the Contra wars in South America. Rutherford organized and participated in a 40-day fast on the steps of the U.S. Capitol while continuing to work for peace and justice in California. He also helped form an organization to help Viet Nam veterans go back to Viet Nam for healing and reconciliation.
Since moving back to Michigan, Rutherford became active in the Michigan Peace Team and, more recently, joined those protesting the Iraq War in Houghton and Hancock. He has also been involved with Native American issues and protests against Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine. Rutherford is now working with Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) on their educational and research project to help people understand the consequences of possible mining in the Keweenaw.
* Click here to visit the Gratiot Lake Conservancy Web site.