Originally by Beth Clawson, Michigan State University Extension

Adopted by Melissa DeSimone, MLSA Executive Director

Membership associations have been around for an extraordinarily long time. For example, being in a guild such as those notable ones from the Middle Ages; masons, carpenters, ironworkers, and artists were early forms of organizations where the professionals maintained a membership. They served the purpose of passing down the knowledge of the craft by training new recruits, safeguarding trade secrets, providing protection from shoddy replications. For Michigan Lakes and Streams Association the craft is education and knowledge sharing, advocating for riparian issues, keeping up with riparian rights, organizing as an association, and best practices for waterfront living.

Today the purpose of belonging to MLSA is similar to organizations of the past. You get articles and training from experts in the field. You are privy to the latest innovations and legislative efforts, and we provide a venue to communicate and network with others through educational opportunities, meetings, and conferences.

MLSA was founded in 1961 and has evolved into its current form as the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association, with updates through the years but the same mission at heart – preserving and protecting Michigan’s lakes and streams for future generations. At that very first meeting in the early 60s, Dr. Clifford R. Humphrys, Professor of Resource Development at Michigan State University, invited representatives of about 40 lake associations and representatives of State and Federal agencies to attend a discussion of lake problems of inland lakes. Not long after, The Michigan Riparian magazine was born to help keep members around the state informed of important issues. As lake association membership grew so did a regional network, with regular meetings led by local volunteers. Over time the organization evolved further into a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to be able to accept tax deductible donations.

Currently, the specific benefits of being a member of MLSA offer many advantages to individuals and associations. Here are some highlights to consider:

Networking: Membership in MLSA allows associations opportunities to meet, share knowledge, and learn from each other. Networking can lead to collaboration on regional projects, ease research into new practices for water management, and provide different perspectives on common issues.

Collaboration: MLSA fosters collaboration among our members and also with DNR, EGLE, Universities, Conservation Districts, CISMAs, statewide partnership organizations, and partnerships on the national level.

Access to Resources: Members have access to a wealth of resources, including research materials, publications, and tools that can aid in their work and help them to stay current with the latest trends and developments.

Advocacy: MLSA engages in advocacy efforts to promote the importance of Michigan’s inland waterbodies and is your statewide voice providing a collective message for members on issues, policy matters, legislative, and regulatory changes.

Leadership Opportunities: Members have the chance to take on leadership roles within MLSA. This gives the opportunity to contribute to our mission on a statewide or regional level. We also work with MiCorps to help maintain the volunteer water quality monitoring program so many of our members participate in.

Updates on Trends and Research: MLSA keeps its members informed about the latest trends, research findings, and innovations in protecting our inland waters. News announcements and educational opportunities are distributed through our website, email alerts, newsletters, and publication – The Michigan Riparian.

It’s important to note that MLSA is always striving to provide more offerings, more benefits, and is introducing new initiatives with the changing needs of our members. Check the MLSA website at mymlsa.org and contact us directly for how we can support you. Here is a document outlining our offerings and goals: MLSA Goals and Objectives. Belonging to your local association and our statewide organization can contribute significantly to your personal understanding of living on the waterfront and also provide opportunities for the organizational growth of your association by fostering a supportive community, offering learning opportunities, and a platform for collaboration.

Join today!

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