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Minnesota Sea Grant Educator Wins Top National Teaching Award

Photo: Aerial view of a small lake near the city of Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo by John A. Downing

2014 October 29. Cynthia Hagley, University of Minnesota Sea Grant extension educator (third from right in brown coat) aboard the UMD Large Lakes Observatory R/V Blue Heron in the St. Louis River estuary. Hagley led a group of Minnesota and Wisconsin educators, assisted by MNSG Extension Educators John Bilotta (far right) and Hilarie Sorensen (front row third from right) who collected invasive fish for a graduate student's research project. Photo by Lisa Sundberg/University of Minnesota Duluth, Large Lakes Observatory.

Minnesota Sea Grant Extension Educator Cynthia Hagley is to receive the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography Ramón Margalef Award for excellence in teaching and mentoring in the fields of limnology and oceanography.

ASLO awarded Hagley this distinguished honor for her vision and success at developing career-long relationships among scientists and educators, for impacting thousands of students and for making environmental and aquatic data understandable to nonspecialists. The award will be presented at the ASLO summer meeting in Victoria, British Columbia, in June 2018.

Since completing her graduate research at Castle Lake in California, Hagley has dedicated most of her career to engaging the public, agencies, teachers and students of all ages in aquatic science. With training in education skills such as science teaching standards and best education practices, she is seen as an immensely valuable asset to Great Lakes scientists in their outreach activities.

Hagley's resume features an extensive and diverse list of partners and projects. In the past two years, Hagley's efforts as a co-lead of the Center for Great Lakes Literacy helped more than 370 educators bring aquatic science to about 3,500 students through more than two dozen workshops. She has been a co-principal investigator on dozens of grants that educated society on key water problems. Many of these grants left lasting legacies such as the Water on the Web website that provides science information and data to public audiences.

Hagley has led multiple shipboard education workshops in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and many other partners. Hagley and her collaborators achieved their vision to provide educators with a rare opportunity to conduct aquatic research alongside scientists during these day to weeklong shipboard experiences. The workshops often resulted in career-long, mutually beneficial relationships between the scientists and educators. Workshop participants have gone on to initiate stream monitoring programs, incorporate limnology and oceanography into their curricula, implement Great Lakes science days at their schools and in their communities and participate in other teacher-at-sea programs. Educators who have worked with Hagley praise her as an exceptional communicator and a passionate and gifted educator who possesses the gift of being able to make complex subjects understandable.

Hagley's aquatic research background and her training as a facilitator makes her sought after for mediating science-based decision-making processes. She recently facilitated follow-up sessions from the governor of Minnesota's Water Summit, which brought together government, industry and agricultural interests to discuss a sustainable water future. Researchers say Hagley also serves as a facilitator to scientists working in the Great Lakes, making connections between scientists that they might not have made themselves.

Hagley has been an active member of the ASLO education committees for years and played a key role in the establishment of the ASLO Meeting Mentoring Program. Her sustained efforts over several years resulted in a well-designed, executed and evaluated program that it is now a regular feature of ASLO meetings.

"I've had the pleasure of working with Cynthia Hagley for many years through the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence Network and the ASLO education committee. Cindy is truly an expert both in aquatic science and the delivery of educational content. ASLO established this award for scientists who, like Ramón Margalef, exemplify the highest standards of excellence in education. Cindy is most certainly deserving of this award," said ASLO President Linda Duguay.


  • Cynthia Hagley, Environmental Quality Extension Educator, Minnesota Sea Grant, chagley@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8713
  • John A. Downing, Director, Minnesota Sea Grant; Professor of Biology, Department of Biology and scientist Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota Duluth; downing@d.umn.edu, 218-726-8715
  • Marie Thoms, Communications and Public Relations Specialist, Minnesota Sea Grant, methoms@d.umn.edu, office: 218-726-8710, mobile: 907-460-1841, @MNSeaGrant, www.seagrant.umn.edu

Posted on December 12, 2017

This page last modified on December 12, 2017     © 1996 – 2020 Regents of the University of Minnesota     The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
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