Lake Superior Climate Champions

Lake Superior Climate Champions logo

Move forward with the Lake Superior Climate Champions program

All across Lake Superior’s coastal counties, we feel the impacts of climate change firsthand. Climate change is a reality for communities in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior basin. Warming waters and winters are changing our lifeways and livelihoods. Changing storm and flood patterns bring costly damage.

As a community leader in the region, you may be one of the many decision-makers motivated to act on climate issues to protect the place where you live.

Climate change work takes time and resources

Finding the dedicated time and capacity to address climate issues with limited resources is a challenge for local leaders. The Lake Superior Climate Champions program provides a yearlong structured opportunity for Northern Wisconsin community teams to receive guided climate assistance while working on a chosen climate goal or project.

With the expertise of our program staff and our connections to statewide and national resources, your team will have access to a program budget of $2,500 as well as planning tools, information, facilitation support, and help navigating progress toward climate goals and actions that are important to your team and your community.

Our inaugural Climate Champions cohort wrapped up their program year in fall 2023. Two teams, two very different projects.

Read about the teams, their work and their reflections on the program HERE.

Three men on a sandy shoreline with a woods in the background

Program eligibility

Participating communities must be from the four coastal counties of northwest Wisconsin (Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland or Iron counties).

To participate in this program, you must apply as a team of 2-4 eligible members from your community. Eligible members will be people in community decision-makers roles. These may include:

  • Local (city, town, village), tribal or county government staff of any department
  • Elected local officials (chairpersons, council members, commissioners, mayors, clerks, etc.)
  • Members of local, tribal, or county boards or committees, or regional intergovernmental committees

Note: Cross-jurisdictional teams may also apply.

Teams who wish to participate in the Lake Superior Climate Champions program must apply by 5 p.m. (CST) on March 15, 2024. We will select multiple teams for the 2024 cohort. Teams will be selected based on climate action readiness and alignment of needs with program expertise. Selected teams will be notified in April 2024.

This program offers dedicated support to get climate work done

In one year, what strides can your community make toward climate resilience?

By the end of one year, our goal is that Lake Superior Climate Champions teams will have made substantial progress toward a chosen climate action or goal with assistance and resources provided by the program. Together, we will identify a project, outcome or idea to work on that addresses a climate change challenge faced by your community. Consider this program if your community would like some assistance related (but not limited) to:

  • Finding and using an assessment or planning tool that helps your community prepare for climate challenges (e.g., flood resilience, vulnerability assessment, public health preparedness).
  • Incorporating climate change considerations into an existing project or process.
  • Addressing a climate implementation action already outlined in a community plan that needs a little help getting off the ground.
  • Planning a workshop, exercise or other facilitated process that allows for learning and dialogue to happen in your community.
  • Looking for creative ways to communicate local climate change actions and solutions.
  • Developing a new tool or resource that makes your community more resilient to climate change

All communities have different priorities and capacities where climate work is concerned. Wherever your community is at, we can find a climate project or goal to tackle together!

A woman standing by and pointing to a large written list of climate impacts

What your community gets out of the Climate Champions Program:

  • Yearlong technical support and a modest budget to advance your community’s chosen climate change work.
  • An opportunity to connect with other communities and develop shared experience and learning dedicated to climate change action.
  • Flexibility to determine what goals to work on and a pace that aligns with your team’s workstyle.

Program schedule and time commitment

This year’s Lake Superior Climate Champions program cohort runs from May 2024 to May 2025. Selected teams can expect to meet monthly with program staff to work toward selected climate actions. Teams will meet and check-in monthly with program staff. Participants will also need to commit to three known cohort learning dates.

  • Cohort kickoff date May 29, 2024 (9am-4pm)
  • Mid-year cohort date Dec 12, 2024 (partial day)
  • Cohort final meeting TBD May 2025

Participating teams will have up to $2,500 to spend over the course of the year to support their work toward achieving climate progress. The funds must go to support planning, training, products or on-the-ground work related to climate action goals established through the program.

Applications due on March 15, 2024 by 5 p.m. (CST)

About the program staff

Karina Heim is a former community planner and the Coastal Training Program Coordinator at the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve. In that role, Karina develops training events and technical assistance that help decision makers take informed and inspired actions to protect coastal areas and communities. Karina has a professional background in land use planning and program coordination, completing her master’s degree in urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School in 2016.

Dr. Natalie Chin is Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Climate and Tourism Outreach Specialist. She is focused on bringing useful information to communities, especially northern Wisconsin. Her current work includes co-leading the Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Working Group for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts; efforts to improve flood resilience across Wisconsin; and projects focused on increasing the accessibility of coastal spaces. She also serves as one of the North Central Region representatives for the National Extension Tourism (NET) Network and a member of the Wisconsin Council on Tourism. She has a PhD in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Purdue University.

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant logo

We value inclusion and access for all participants and are committed to providing reasonable accommodations for full participation in this event. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns about your participation in this program.