Conservation Conversations text.

Conservation Conversations

Presented by the Michigan Conservation Stewards Program (CSP)

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Remote Great Lakes Islands Surveys: Notable Discoveries and Prioritization Framework for Biodiversity Stewardship - Josh Cohen, Senior Conservation Scientist - Lead Ecologist, Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) 

 6 - 8 p.m., ET

University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens Auditorium, 1800 N Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48105 

5:30 p.m.: check-in, refreshments, and educational table displays
6 - 7:15 p.m.: presentation
7:15 p.m.: Q/A & discussion with Josh Cohen; educational table displays; refreshments

Registration fee: $10/person ($15/person at the door)
Refunds will be given if requested on or before March 12, 2023. No refunds will be given on or after March 13, 2023.
To cancel your registration and/or to request a refund by the deadline, please send an email to

Join the MSU Extension Conservation Stewards Program on March 14th for the "Conservation Conversations" in-person talk series. Featured topics focus on current research and management approaches, unique natural communities, and the diverse conservation partnerships involved in supporting Michigan ecosystems.

During this event, there will be time for light refreshments as well as Q and A and discussion with Josh Cohen. Participants will also have an opportunity to visit with invited local conservation organizations to find out about the work they are doing including upcoming events, and how they can get involved in local conservation efforts. MSU Extension staff will also have information about the 2023 Michigan Conservation Stewards Program as well as a variety of other natural resource-oriented programs and upcoming events. 

March 14th Talk & Description:
Surveying Michigan’s Great Lakes Islands to Prioritize Biodiversity Stewardship Survey - Josh Cohen, Senior Conservation Scientist - Lead Ecologist, Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) 
Great Lakes islands provide critical habitat for native biodiversity and support rare and endemic natural communities. Many of these islands are remote, difficult to access, and challenging to survey. Despite limited access, these islands face a variety of threats to native biodiversity and rare taxa including establishment and spread of invasive species and the impacts of climate change. Unfortunately, within these unique geographies biodiversity data is limited or outdated, which hinders effective management and decision-making. Over the past several years, Michigan Natural Features Inventory has collaborated with the United State Fish and Wildlife Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and tribal natural resource departments to collect baseline information on the current status of ecosystems on these islands to help guide biodiversity stewardship and conservation planning efforts. In this presentation, we will present highlights from this ongoing research and provide a framework for prioritizing biodiversity stewardship.

BIO: Joshua Cohen has worked for the past 23 years as an ecologist with Michigan Natural Features Inventory. His primary duties involve refining and revising the natural community classification through ecological inventory and sampling, literature research, and data analysis. He is responsible for classifying conservation targets and prioritizing areas for conservation and restoration; creating and delivering biodiversity and ecosystem management trainings; and designing and conducting vegetative sampling, ecological mapping and modeling, monitoring, and surveys for natural communities and rare species. Cohen is the lead author of A Field Guide to the Natural Communities of Michigan and a recent article in Diversity entitled “Assessing the Ecological Need for Prescribed Fire in Michigan Using GIS-Based Multicriteria Decision Analysis: Igniting Fire Gaps”. His presentation focuses on Great Lakes islands surveys, which have been some of the most amazing and challenging of his career. 

Who should attend this "Conservation Conversation" event?   

  • Anyone interested in nature who want to learn more about natural communities and conservation efforts in Michigan
  • Individuals who have previously completed the Michigan Conservation Stewards Program interested in continuing their learning and networking/connecting with other alumni.
    Registration for Conservation Stewards participants is free.
  • Natural resource professionals who want to build their knowledge on ecosystem-based management principles
  • Individuals who want to learn more about the Michigan Conservation Steward Program as well as other MSU/MSU Extension programs and events being offered in 2023 
  • Those who want to learn about area conservation organizations and their local conservation efforts, including upcoming programs and events  

To see the complete 2023 schedule for the other 2023 "Conservation Conversations" in-person talks,  

To learn more about the Michigan Conservation Stewards Program, visit:
If you would like to receive information about future CSP offerings, sign up here.


Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

For questions about this event, contact Bindu Bhakta at
For questions about registering for this event, contact Cathy Morris at