G-WOW! Changing Climate, Changing Culture

New GWOW logoGikinoo’wizhiwe Onji Waaban” (Guiding for Tomorrow)

“G-WOW” Changing Climate, Changing Culture Initiative

When I saw that we would be teaching about climate change…, I thought Ugghhh!!!  Now I see that the cultural impact of climate change is how to approach  middle school kids with this topic.“- G-WOW  Institute Teacher

 “G-WOW” is a unique model for increasing people’s knowledge of climate change and encouraging them to take action to address it. The G-WOW model is based on investigating how climate change is affecting cultural practices we value, based on how climate changes is affecting sustainability of species and habitat conditions that support that practice.  The model integrates scientific research with real world “place-based” evidence we can observe and experience.  G-WOW curriculum uses traditional lifeways of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, a culture with a long relationship with the environment, to demonstrate place-based evidence of climate change.  Ojibwe language, traditional ecological knowledge, and cultural components are integrated. The project’s service learning approach promotes community level action to mitigate or adapt to a changing climate, no matter your location or culture.

We welcome you to adapt the G-WOW model to help your community understand more about climate change and what can be done about it.  Do culture and science agree that climate change is real?  You be the judge!

NEWS:   The G-WOW Initiative was featured in the North American Lake Management’s LakeLines magazine. Read more @  G-WOW LakeLines Article-Fall 2015

NEWS:  G-WOW presentation was featured at the 2015 Rising Voices 3-Bringing Together Science and Indigenous Ways of Knowing to Create Positive Solutions. Rising Voices 3 Indigenous Climate Conference Highlights Take a peak at what we learned.

These G-WOW outreach tools are now available:

G-WOW Service Learning Web-Based Curriculum    www.g-wow.org 

Four seasonal curriculum units engage middle and above learners in applying scientific research with place-based investigations to determine how climate change is affecting  traditional Ojibwe lifeways as an indicator of how it is affecting all of us.  Students investigate climate change within their community, develop their ownNew GWOW logo-SMALL climate change hypothesis, test it, and develop a climate chnage service learning project based on their results. Because the G-WOW climate change literacy model is based on investigating the sustainability of key plant and animal species that cultural practices rely on, it is adaptable to other cultures and locations. The G-WOW website features  lesson plans, teacher resources, program data bases, visual resources, and interactive blog where students can share their climate service learning projects.

Coming in 2017:

  • A new curriculum unit investigating water and climate change will be added to the G-WOW website in 2017.
  • A new training video on how to produce a G-WOW Institute is under production and will be available in early 2017. Based on filming done at the 2016 G-WOW “Hear the Water Speak” Institute, the video will help others “recreate” a G-WOW Institute for other cultures and communities.
  • NASA climate change maps, showing projected changes in environmental variables (such as temperature) across the Ojibwe Ceded Territory of northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan have been added to the G-WOW website’s “Science” sections within each of the four seasonal G-WOW curriculum units (the winter unit is shown here as an example). Currently these are static maps, but will be replaced by interactive NASA mapping tools in 2017.

G-WOW Culture and Climate Change Discovery Center

This 200 sq.ft. inG-WOW.Exhibitteractive exhibit and dynamic 32-inch touch screen kiosk at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI  explores the impacts of climate change on Lake Superior’s natural resources and peoples and what we can do about it. The exhibit and kiosk use the G-WOW model to engage learners in exploring place-based evidence of climate change impacts on seasonal cultural practices the Lake Superior Ojibwe people while investigating the latest climate science research through intreacive maps, videos, Ojibwe language components.  Student groups can schedule guided G-WOW climate change programs at the Visitor Center.

G-WOW Professional Development Institutes  G-WOW Initiative Program Photo

G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture Institutes offer professional development climate literacy training for classroom teachers and informal community educators. The training is based on the G-WOW model and integrates place-based climate investigations with science, plus provides resources for developing community-based climate service learning projects. G-WOW Institutes are based at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, WI and feature field investigations within the Chequamegon Bay region, Bad River tribal lands, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Teacher stipends and credit are available. Transportation funds to bring students back for a G-WOW “Climate Change Camp” may also be available for G-WOW Institute alumni.  Browse the G-WOW Archives to see what we learned at past G-WOW Institutes.

NEWS:  The 2016  “G-WOW Hear the Water’s Voice” Institute provided climate change professional development training to 28 classroom and informal community educators, including 5 Canadian First Nations tribal elders. This year’s Institute focused on water and climate change. Participants learned how to create climate change service learning outreach by integrating  place-based climate change investigations and climate science.  Read more here.


The G-WOW Project received the prestigious 2012-13 Honor Award from the Eastern Region of the US Forest Service in the category of “Courageous Conservation.” Photo shows G-WOW Team members (left to right) Jason Maloney-US Forest Service, Sue Erickson and Jim St. Arnold-Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Neil Howk-Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and Cathy Tecthmann-UW Extension.

G-WOW Team Receives USFS Honor Award

If you would like more information about the G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture Initiative or assistance in adapting the model in your community, please contact Cathy Techtmann-Environmental Outreach State Specialist at catherine.techtmann@ces.uwex.edu or call 715.561.2695.


The G-WOW Initiative is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Extension, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC), Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest-US Forest Service, and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore-National Park Service

With funding through the WI Coastal Management Program, NOAA, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, NASA, and the National Parks Foundation. With assistance from the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Ojibwe, the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science-USDA Forest Service, and many others!