‘Go Big Read’

Limnology on People’s Minds All Year Long Thanks to ‘Go Big Read’

by Adam Hinterthuer

Dan Egan answers questions from a crowd of more than 200 people for the CFL-sponsored “Science on Tap-Madison” event. Photo: Adam Hinterthuer

This Spring, when it was announced that Chancellor Rebecca Blank had selected Dan Egan’s book “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” as the UW-Madison’s ‘Go Big Read‘ book, we knew that it was an excellent opportunity to keep limnology in the public discourse all year long.
Trout Lake Station (TLS) staff hosted a book discussion for more than 40 northern Wisconsin residents at TLS. Our director Jake Vander Zanden (who Egan quotes in the book) joined Egan for a public discussion at a Madison bookstore and moderated Q & A after Egan’s official UW-Madison lecture. Our blog published posts on the Great Lakes and invasive species throughout the year.

It was great to see a sustained interest in freshwater sciences, but nothing was more rewarding than watching 200 people cram into Working Draft Beer Company for our Science on Tap-Madison event in October.

Egan had just finished up his week of speaking engagements at the UW-Madison, including a public talk at UW Memorial Union’s Shannon Hall to more than 1,000 people the night before. When the CFL teamed up with University Communications to add a final, more casual event to Egan’s agenda, we didn’t know what to expect.

What we got was an engaged and inquisitive standing-room-only crowd joining in a conversation with Egan to talk about how human activity, both intentional and accidental, has shaped the entire Great Lakes ecosystem.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when someone asked Egan how we, as individuals, could protect the Great Lakes. He responded by saying that, before we can start the hard work of protecting a place, we have to love it first. And for us to love a place, we have to know it. And the most powerful way to build that sense of place is to spend time in it when you’re young. Essentially, Egan said, find some kids and get them to a Great Lake.

We couldn’t agree more, and we’re thrilled we were able to help Egan have that conversation.