When I was young, around 7 or 8, my mom took me on a trip around the Great Lakes through Canada and the United States. We stopped at each one and had me get in and go for a swim. Ontario was popular and busy. Huron was sandy with dunes. Superior was cold and impressive. Michigan was choppy and wild. Erie was warm and accommodating. Erie was also the last stop on our Great Lakes tour before we returned home, and the Lake was a culmination of majesty for younger me. I was amazed by all of the Lakes, but the warm, clear waters of Lake Erie held a special place in my heart.
Fast forward to university and I learned that Lake Erie was threatened by harmful algae blooms, with a huge one occurring in 2011 when I began, and another significant bloom in 2015 as I prepared to finish my bachelor degree. I decided then to pursue a master's degree to find some way of helping Lake Erie. My research culminated in the creation of a coastal wetland restoration initiative that would help reduce phosphorus loading in the Lake, thereby limiting the harmful algae blooms.
This research led me to Niagara College where I pursued another degree learning to restore coastal wetland ecosystems. I learned of the Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative, an organization that works towards maintaining healthy shorelines on Lake Erie. They agreed to host the Lake Erie - Niagara Hub with Swim Drink Fish to monitor the water quality along the shore. I am now employed as the Coordinator for the Hub where I walk the beaches of Lake Erie every week, doing what I can to help maintain the warm, clear waters of the Lake that inspired me 20 years ago.