Follow the Fellow

Sarah Krzemien
DTE Fellow
Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

Welcome to the first installment of Follow the Fellow a series of articles where I will share fun environmental topics and projects that I’m working on for the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly (MRWA). I also plan to provide opportunities for community involvement.

Before I get too far, I want to begin by introducing myself. I graduated from Central Michigan University this past May, with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science and Spanish. Three months ago, I started working as a Project Manager for MRWA, a position made possible through the DTE Foundation Environmental Fellowship.

DTE Foundation created The Fellowship Program to provide future environmental leaders from underrepresented groups in the workplace comprehensive work experience that is necessary to make a positive impact in the world. The MRWA and the DTE Foundation have been working for over a year to make the program a reality.

This program provides the funding that will allow me to work for MRWA for two years in support of their mission: the preservation, restoration, and sustainable use of the Muskegon River, the land it drains, and the life it supports.  In my first four months on the job, I have enjoyed the position and have come to view it as a wonderful continuation of my environmental science path.

My journey began many years ago with my grandfather, who had always wanted to be a forest ranger. He loved the outdoors and tried to immerse himself in nature as much as possible. While this career never became a reality, he did buy a house up north in the middle of the woods. My family would often visit and he would take me on walks around his property. Since I grew up in southeast Michigan, I normally had few opportunities to experience nature in this way.

My grandfather would point out and identify the different flora and fauna we saw. He also taught me very important lessons about the relationship humans have with nature. He explained that humans and nature should share a mutualistic relationship; the Earth cares for us, but we have a responsibility to provide the same great care for it as well. I still live by this mindset today and think that learning this lesson at a young age has fostered my passion and love for the environment.

As I grew up, I pursued every opportunity to learn about the environment. I took environmental science classes in school, watched nature documentaries, and went outside as much as possible. When it finally came time to choose my future career path, it was not a hard decision.

I now work on projects every day that will improve the Muskegon River Watershed. To date, I have created invasive species prevention projects and developed educational programming with the MRWA. Recently, I submitted a grant proposal to fund the planting of 361 trees throughout three counties in the watershed. In addition to writing the proposal, I conducted site visits, contacted partners, and created a budget. We expect approved of my proposal in the next two months.

In the future, I hope to achieve many important goals on behalf of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly. I am passionate about educational programming and community outreach; therefore, I am excited to continue developing educational opportunities for the Muskegon River Watershed community. In addition, I look forward to working with the rest of the MRWA staff on any projects that cross my desk, ranging from tree plantings and trash clean-ups, to invasive species prevention and streambank restoration.

I want to thank you all for tuning in and I hope you will continue to follow along on my journey.



Editor’s note: MRWA director at large Jonathon Wilson is a strong advocate for this program and his consistent support has been a major factor in moving the initiative forward.

“The DTE Foundation’s support will enable MRWA to extend the Fellowship program to a recent graduate, engaging them in an immersive, career-building experience that also brings valuable capacity to MRWA’s work.”


Jonathan Wilson
DTE Energy / Regional Manager
Corporate and Government Affairs