On April 16th, Patrick Robinson came in to talk with us about his career history and what he does now with the UW-Extension. Patrick has worked as a consultant ecologist, a natural resources educator, and as a regional ecologist. He really wanted to get back to the university, so he started working for the UW-Extension office as their environmental restoration and estuary outreach coordinator. He is now working on the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve and is also an adjunct faculty member at UWGB.
As an employee of the Lake Superior NERR, he was in charge of designating a piece of land for permanent protection that would get funding every year for research and education. Patrick chose the St. Louis River freshwater estuary. He needed to then go out and make sure the community was okay with the plan and inform everyone of the changes taking place. A lot of research and monitoring went into this decision, and there are now numerous resources for scientists and the public alike to take part in the research reserve.
The UW-Extension has staff all over the state, and they have a lot of resources as well. One of the bigger projects Patrick is working on is the Cat Island Chain Restoration project. The Cat Islands were wiped out by a large storm in the 1970s, and this caused a huge decline in vegetation and aquatic species that inhabited the lower bay of Green Bay. After 40 years of planning, the restoration project began in 2012 when the island outlines were built with riprap, and were filled in with dredge material. A few graduate students at UWGB are doing research in regards to the island chain. The research is focused on vegetation, water quality, and migratory bird use. One of the main goals is to construct a successfully self-monitoring seed bank to kickstart vegetation growth around the islands. Since this project is so massive and still fairly new, there is a heavy need for more research.