If you haven’t listened to “Teach Me About the Great Lakes” yet, you’re missing a podcast featuring a quirky host and fun, knowledgeable guests talking about important science and Great Lakes topics.
“My goal is to talk to interesting people about the many ways that the Great Lakes are natural and cultural resources,” Carlton said. Guest experts include scientists who work in the region, artists who are inspired by the lakes, and people who rely on the water for their jobs, hobbies or culture. “We're especially interested in hearing from voices that might otherwise be ignored or underrepresented,” he said.
The podcast is co-hosted by a rotating group of Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant staff members. “They are an essential part of the show,” said Carlton. “Carolyn Foley (IISG research coordinator) brings to the conversation a deep knowledge of Great Lakes research and serves as a nice counterbalance to my ignorance. The other co-hosts broaden the perspective, as well, helping this feel more like an informative, fun dialogue than a formal interview.” (Full disclosure, the author often serves as a co-host.)
In the debut episode—“They’re Also Called Nurdles”—Carlton and his co-host talked to IISG Pollution Prevention Specialist Sarah Zack about microplastics to learn what they are, how they affect fish and people, and what we can do to avoid polluting our waterways with them. The beauty of the podcast lies in Carlton’s ability to take complex information and ask questions to break it down into material that’s easily digestible for a non-scientific audience.
The reasons for starting the podcast were somewhat selfish, according to Carlton. “As a transplant from the Gulf South, I need to learn so much about the Great Lakes social-ecological system in order to be an effective leader for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. So in some ways, the reason for the podcast is just what it says on the tin: I want people to teach me about the Great Lakes.”
The podcast has already covered a range of topics, beginning with the basics about how the Great Lakes formed with guest Dr. Michael Twiss of Clarkson University (and the IJC’s Great Lakes Science Advisory Board), to how walking the Great Lakes creates lasting memories with author and adventurer Loreen Niewenhuis.
“Teach Me About the Great Lakes” also takes a deeper dive into how the tiniest organisms can change the food web and affect what fish are available in the lakes with guest Dr. Rachel Poretsky of University of Illinois at Chicago, and explores how the lakes affect the weather, discussing polar vortexes and lake-effect snow with meteorologist Tom Coomes of ABC-TV in South Bend, Indiana. You might get ideas for new hobbies or turn into the smartest person at trivia night.
Go ahead, give it a listen. You’re likely to get the theme song stuck in your head.
Where can I find the podcast?
You can subscribe to “Teach Me About the Great Lakes” on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or use the RSS feed in your favorite podcast player. You also can find all episodes at teachmeaboutthegreatlakes.com.
To propose a future guest to be featured on the podcast (experts from both countries that border the Great Lakes are welcome) or ask questions you want answered about the Great Lakes, reach out to @TeachGreatLakes on Twitter or email Stuart Carlton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hope Charters is the communications coordinator for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, a program focused on southern Lake Michigan research, outreach and education, funded by University of Illinois, Purdue University and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.