Noordyk named a Lake Michigan Champion of Conservation

Julia Noordyk, Sea Grant’s water quality and coastal communities specialist, was named a Lake Michigan Champion of Conservation in an awards ceremony Friday as part of the annual Lake Michigan Day event, held this year in Manitowoc. The Lake Michigan Stakeholders bestowed the award.

“I am humbled by this honor and know that any success would not have been possible without the inspiration and partnership of all of my excellent colleagues. I am also extremely grateful to the municipalities for their commitment in improving their communities through green infrastructure and look forward to continuing to support their visions,” Noordyk said.

Man and two women sitting outside looking at a laptop computer

Julia Noordyk (right) engages with colleagues, discussing coastal resilience concerns while sitting on the shore of Lake Michigan. Photo: Narayan Mahon

Noordyk has been with Sea Grant for more than nine years, coming from the Maine Coastal Program where she worked as a senior planner focused on outreach programs in offshore wind energy, water quality and coastal public access.

Now based in Green Bay, she has devoted herself to public engagement. Noordyk serves on the Green Bay Sustainability Commission. She said she counts among the most-rewarding actions in her time on the commission the support offered to city staff to build flood resilience, removal of green infrastructure barriers and the March 2, 2021, common council adoption of a resolution to value and protect local waters.

She is also co-leading the East River Collaborative, which is committed to building resilience in Brown County’s East River watershed. The area has seen repeated flooding. The collaborative is developing a hydrologic computer model to understand current and future flood risk; forming an East River Watershed Resilience Community of Practice; structuring a community-based watershed resilience framework that is establishing a vision, goals and near-term actions for building community capacity and flood resilience; and accelerating nature-based solutions designed to improve flood-resistance, water quality and quality of life.

The awarding organization also noted Noordyk’s leadership as the Wisconsin Clean Marina Program manager on clean marina protocols that both boost a marina’s bottom line and keep the waters cleaner. Example practices are reducing fuel spills, properly storing hazardous materials, capturing boat wash water and managing stormwater. Last year, Noordyk and partners added a marina resiliency checklist to the clean marina certification process. The self-assessment identifies risks, vulnerabilities and information gaps. It provides a blueprint for coastal communities and marinas to prioritize, plan and initiate enhancements to ensure marina resiliency to coastal hazards

Sea Grant’s Fisheries Specialist Titus Seilheimer said, “In my decade of working with Julia, she has been a constant inspiration for me. Every time I hear about what she is working on and the impacts that it is having, I think, ‘Wow, how can I be more like Julia?’ She is the definition of a Lake Michigan Champion.”

This is the sixth year champion awards have been given. In addition to Noordyk, other 2022 winners are the Glen Hills Youth Team, Bill Moren and Clean Farm Families of Ozaukee County, led by Andy Holschbach and Mike Paulus.

The Lake Michigan Stakeholders organization is made up of professionals in the fields of environmental management, academic research, education, community outreach, outdoor advocacy, agriculture and private industry. Its members collaborate to promote and celebrate the health and viability of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan basin through stewardship and education.