Learning Horizons Expand for Environmental Journalism Students

Michelle Polley, a naturalist at Pinery Park in Ontario, discusses skinks, toad balloons, marram grass, hognose snakes and karner blue butterflies with Knight Center students on a Lake Huron beach. The students traveled to Canada to study transboundary issues. From left Remington Sawege, Kaley Fech, Whitney McDonald, Quinn Zimmerman, Alexandria Iacobelli and Anntaninna Biondi.

The Knight Center for Environmental Journalism created several exciting learning opportunities for its students this fall.

With financial assistance from MSU Canadian Studies, Dave Poulson, senior associate director of the Knight Center, took the environmental reporting class to Canada for three days. Students visited a marijuana farm to learn of its environmental impact on the eve of marijuana legalization. They toured the terminal where the controversial Line 5 pipeline ends in Sarnia. Students also met with anti-nuclear activists, toured a nuclear power plant, and visited an oil refinery.

The experience gave students the opportunity to interview the mayor of Sarnia, several energy industry executives and members of a First Nations tribe on an island in the St. Clair River.

Following the Canada trip, the Knight Center hosted a dozen Chilean journalists and journalism students for a week as part of a state department training grant.

J-School and MSU faculty assisted with presentations at Communication Arts and Sciences and across campus. Knight Center for Environmental Journalism Director Eric Freedman returned to Michigan temporarily from his fellowship in the Republic of Georgia to assist in the effort.

As part of the visit, the Knight Center faculty traveled with the Chileans and a dozen MSU students to Flint for the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental Journalists.