Building Blocks for Sharing Science


2024 Building Blocks for Sharing Science

Take a look at this year’s iteration of our popular Building Blocks series, brought to you by the Lake Superior Reserve Coastal Training Program and Ohio Coastal Training Program.

What is the Building Blocks series?

This virtual series is tailored for professionals, practitioners, and leaders working on Great Lakes coastal issues and is designed to address communication challenges we commonly encounter in environmental and science-adjacent careers. Our courses will help you plan and design effective projects, lend you the tools to enhance your ability to connect with your end users, and ultimately tell your story in the most impactful way possible!

Connecting the dots with your project plan June 12 and 13. Let's talk about trust July 16 and 18. What's in a story? September 18.

This year, the series workshops help you tend to the relational elements of successful project work from planning and engagement stages through how we talk about impact as the work advances. Some of the topics addressed in this learning series are:

  • Best practices for planning and managing projects that are organized and intentionally designed
  • The importance of building trust with audiences impacted by your work
  • How storytelling plays a role in communicating the impacts of collaborative efforts

Cost: There is a $20 charge for each 2-day course and $10 for the 1-day course. We are committed to making these courses accessible to those that wish to experience them. If cost is a barrier for your attendance, please reach out to training coordinators Karina Heim and Emily Kuzmick.

Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve Coastal Training Program
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Series Schedule

June 12 & 13, 2024 – Connecting the Dots with Your Project Plan

Connecting the Dots with Your Project Plan


June 12, 2024 and June 13, 2024
12-3pm CT/1-4pm ET
This course is split over two days, with a three-hour session on each day. You must be able to attend both sessions.





  • Learn about project planning practices that increase your probability of success
  • Become familiar with project planning frameworks that can help make your thinking visible
  • Become aware of the characteristics of a well managed project and tools to proactively manage project timelines and deliverables

Do you have an idea for a project but don’t know where to start? Are you looking to increase your comfort with planning and managing a project? This course is meant to help those with little or no formal experience become more proactive when it comes to planning and managing effective projects. Attend this condensed version of the NOAA Digital Coast Training’s offering to learn project planning practices that help you build in accountability and strategic thinking, reveal assumptions, and create a targeted effort with measurable results. Walk away with a concrete plan and clear next steps to help you successfully manage your project!


Liz Lasicki ( is the manager of the Training and Engagement Program  at NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management. Ms. Lasicki graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and served for 10 years as a commissioned officer. Her assignments included interdicting drug smugglers on the high seas and performing search and rescue missions off the northwest Pacific and southeast Atlantic coasts. As Chief of the Coast Guard Leadership and Management School, she developed curriculum and led a team of highly skilled instructors and facilitators. She then transitioned into the civilian sector where she was employed as an internal performance consultant for a large telecommunications company. She obtained her Master’s degree in human resource development from Webster University. Immediately prior to joining OCM, Ms. Lasicki owned an IT consulting company, specializing in implementing cloud-based solutions for small businesses and non-profit organizations.

Christopher Katalinas ( is contracted by Lynker to coordinate NOAA’s Margaret 

A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship program. His main responsibilities include developing and implementing professional development and cohort building activities for fellows and mentors, conducting formal evaluations to identify improvements, and coordinating outreach and recruitment for the program. In addition to the fellowship coordination role, Chris delivers training opportunities on project design and evaluation and provides meeting facilitation services to coastal partners upon request.

July 16 & 18, 2024 – Let’s Talk About Trust

Let’s Talk About Trust: A Collaborative Learning Opportunity to Reflect on Building Long-Term Relationships with Underserved Communities


July 16, 2024 & July 18, 2024
12-3pm CT/1-4pm ET
This course is split over two days, with a three-hour session on each day. You must be able to attend both sessions.



  • Explore trust and its three key elements.
  • Reflect on your experience with building trust.
  • Share ideas for how to build and maintain trust in professional relationships.
  • Consider case studies on building trust with underserved communities in the Great Lakes region.
  • Discuss special considerations for trust-building with underserved communities. 
  • Identify strategies to build trust with underserved communities.

We increasingly hear the message that working with underserved communities requires trust. Do you find yourself wondering, what does trust mean? What does trust look like? How do we build trust, or better yet, work through distrust with partners? Join us for reflection and peer-to-peer sharing to build our collective knowledge of what trust with underserved communities truly looks like. If you have expertise to share or are just starting to think about this kind of work, we want you to be part of the conversation. We will explore existing resources on trust, discuss key concepts among peers, and identify successful strategies to overcome challenges. 

“Let’s Talk About Trust” will be a combination of two virtual meetings, partnered activities, and individual reflection (total time commitment is 6.5 hours). We will explore existing resources on trust, discuss key concepts among peers, and identify successful strategies to overcome challenges. Because you will build our knowledge collectively as a group and you will work with a partner throughout the workshop, you must be able to commit to attend both virtual meetings on July 16 and July 18 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (ET).


Beth Lovett (

Jessica Mcintosh (

September 18, 2024 – What’s in a Story?

What’s in a Story? Exploring Narrative to Capture and Explain Impact


September 18, 2024
9-11am CT/10am-12pm ET



  • Learn about narrative development an as approach to capture and explain impact
  • Hear example impact narratives from the Great Lakes region
  • Explore developing your own impact narrative 
  • Reflect on the potential uses of narratives for understanding and communicating about impact

What would you say if someone asked you, “What’s the impact of your work?” Would you have a quick and satisfying answer? Or would you struggle with where to begin or how to frame the impact of your work, especially when you know there were other contributing factors? Now think about what you would say if someone asked you, “Can you think of a moment when you realized the impacts of your work? Describe it. What made that moment possible and what came after?” Both sets of questions have a similar focus, but the latter invites a different approach to reflecting and sharing about impact. It supports sharing with both context and explanation which provides a much richer understanding. It also reduces pressure to name only what you feel you alone can claim, an instinct many of us have when, in fact, change and impact come about in complex ways.

The NERRS Science Collaborative has been exploring narrative and story development to support the NERRS and their partners in capturing and explaining the expansive impacts of their work. In this session, we will share about this exploration and what we have been learning. This will include sharing example impact narratives from the Great Lakes region and how we worked with reserve staff to develop them. Participants will have the opportunity to work in small groups to begin developing their own narratives and then we will discuss their potential uses for communicating about impact.


Maeghan Brass (, Collaborative Research Manager with the NERRS Science Collaborative, will share about the program’s exploration of narrative and story development to capture and explain impact. Serving as a core staff member of the NERRS Science Collaborative for over ten years, Maeghan is highly experienced in engaging multi-disciplinary, multi-sector teams to develop and implement collaborative science projects. She leads the day-to-day administration of the program, coordinates regular requests for proposal processes, and serves as a program officer, working closely with project teams. She also leads program learning, including related to capturing and communicating about the impacts of the program and the projects it supports.

The National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative supports science for estuarine and coastal decision-makers. Managed by the University of Michigan Water Center, through a cooperative agreement with NOAA, the Science Collaborative coordinates regular funding opportunities and supports user-driven collaborative research, assessment, and transfer activities that address critical coastal management needs identified by the reserves


Karina Heim, Coastal Training Program Coordinator

Emily Kuzmick, Ohio Coastal Training Program Coordinator