Minnesota Sea Grant Welcomes Don Schreiner as Interim Extension Program Leader

DULUTH, Minn. — The University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program is proud to welcome Don Schreiner as MNSG’s new interim Extension Program Leader effective June 27, 2022.

“Don is a trusted colleague who will help MNSG strengthen the research-to-application focus of our extension programming,” said MNSG Director John A. Downing. “I asked Don to employ his considerable skills toward building strong, positive and productive interactions among members of our extension team, our program leadership team, and our stakeholders; and to help draft our next strategic plan.”

Schreiner has 25-plus years of positive team leadership experience from his career with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Section of Fisheries, leading both large and small groups of staff working on diverse aquatic projects and resources. For the last six-plus years he has worked as the MNSG Fisheries Specialist and is well respected and liked across MNSG’s extension team.

“I will be focused on building a more cohesive team approach to extension coming off the two years where COVID interrupted our face-to-face work,” said Schreiner. “The extension educators at Minnesota Sea Grant are a relatively new group of professionals with great enthusiasm for their work. I will strive to keep that enthusiasm at a high level and ensure the work we do is important and meaningful to Minnesotans.”

Extension educators are the public face of Sea Grant. They are scientists, educators, researchers and communicators. They work with MNSG’s stakeholders such as local officials, businesses, educators, agency personnel and community members to identify what water science information they need, and then work to deliver that science through various programs, products, services and public presentations throughout Minnesota.

“Through our research program we fund a variety of multidisciplinary experts to answer questions on Lake Superior, inland lakes, watersheds and aquatic resources in Minnesota that are posed by stakeholders and the MNSG advisory board,” said Schreiner. “The projects we fund must have applied solutions and a rigorous outreach program where project results are shared with the public in an understandable manner.“

As interim extension program leader, Schreiner is a member of the MNSG leadership team and is responsible for supervising the program’s extension educators who come from multiple disciplines all centered on aquatic resources. The extension educators’ work is focused in MNSG’s programs in community resilience; educator resources; maritime and hazmat transport; healthy coastal ecosystems; recreation and water safety; and fish, food, and aquaculture.

Schreiner will continue his aquaculture work on the Great Lakes Aquaculture Collaborative and Minnesota-specific projects including Golden Shiner bait, Yellow Perch production, fisheries and aquaculture supply chains, aquaculture market study and his Lake Superior work with recreational, charter, and tribal and state commercial fisheries. “Few people may know this, but Don started as a volunteer with us in 2015,” said Downing. “He reinvigorated our fisheries and aquaculture program and created an environment in which the fisheries and aquaculture staff who joined us in 2020 have been immensely successful.”

From 1989 to 2014, Schreiner was the Lake Superior Fisheries Supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. His extensive knowledge of Lake Superior fisheries, innovative fishery assessment methods, and skills at engaging people in public participation and planning processes was recognized throughout the Great Lakes community and has made him a valuable colleague and friend to many then and now. Don also worked closely with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and will continue to do so when opportunities to collaborate arise.

“My vision is to continue the good work Minnesota Sea Grant has accomplished, increase communication among all staff and make sure the work we do is important and meaningful to the citizens of Minnesota,” said Schreiner. “Where we can create opportunities, I envision more projects that involve direct interaction with our stakeholders by including them in our projects, with special attention to diversity, equity, inclusion and underserved communities. I also want our extension educators to be creative and productive by working on projects that are not only valuable to the people of Minnesota, but are also important and of keen interest to them personally. I have found this is how passion and commitment is built both within the individual and inside the program.”

The interim position is expected to last six months during which time MNSG will be conducting a search for a regular extension program leader.

“In this new role, Don’s vision and leadership will help our extension team strengthen the terrific work they do and lead to even greater benefits for Lake Superior, Minnesota’s inland waters and the people of Minnesota,” said Downing. “We are immensely proud that Don accepted the position as interim extension program leader.”

Man holding fish
Minnesota Sea Grant interim Extension Program Leader Don Schreiner holds a Lake Trout he caught on Lake Superior in 2018, which was a product of the successful Lake Trout rehabilitation program that Schreiner and many others worked on in Lake Superior.
Image credit: Mary Negus

Top image: Minnesota Sea Grant interim Extension Program Leader Don Schreiner weighs and measures juvenile Yellow Perch at the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center lab on the St. Paul campus in June 2021, as part of the MNSG-led Egg-to-Market Yellow Perch project.
Image credit: Amy Schrank/Minnesota Sea Grant


Don Schreiner, interim extension program leader, Minnesota Sea Grant and University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth. schr0941@d.umn.edu.

John A. Downing, director, Minnesota Sea Grant, University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Duluth. downing@d.umn.edu.

Marie Thoms, communications manager, Minnesota Sea Grant and University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Duluth. methoms@d.umn.edu.