Collage of photos of Hannah's work ventures
“The role of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in my life cannot be understated—it has been a cornerstone of my personal and professional development for over a decade.” – Hannah MacDonald

Hannah MacDonald grew up in Alpena, overlooking Thunder Bay. She was drawn to the water. As soon as she was old enough to snorkel she was diving on the SHAMROCK.

After going through the Shipwreck Alley class at Alpena High School and meeting the team at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary she knew the direction she wanted her career to take.

She took advantage of all the opportunities she could, one of them being the Ocean for Life program that brought students from around the world together to focus on solutions for protecting the ocean. She also was a recipient of the NOAA Hollings Scholarship and chose an internship at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

Currently, Hannah works at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute where she leads the fisheries engagement program and offshore wind initiative. She also serves on the Sanctuary Advisory Council for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. She is passionate about engaging coastal communities to develop collaborative solutions to the challenges they face – like climate change, changing ecosystems, and new ocean uses.

“The mentorship and experiences I’ve gained there have not only shaped my career but have also enriched my understanding of our interconnected world.” – MacDonald

Clear on this link to watch a “Stories from the Blue” short film that was created featuring Hannah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywpJKkkN8ug

Top photos and bottom left: MSE and GRMI events
Bottom right photo: from The Big Five Dive



a collage of Margaret's work ventures

“If it wasn’t for my involvement with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in my youth, I am not sure where my life would be.” – Margaret Sigmon

It was a week-long educational program called Aquatic Academy that brought 12-year-old Margaret to TBNMS. Her love and passion for protecting the Great Lakes started with this program!

After being inspired in Aquatic Academy, her teenage years were filled with more camps, extracurriculars, and volunteer opportunities such as the Great Lakes Natural Resources Camp, 4-H Michigan Youth Conservation Council, volunteering at TBNMS, and AmeriCorps. Then Margaret enrolled in Northern Michigan University to study Environmental Science with a Water Resources concentration and a minor in Anthropology.

“Due to my involvement with TBNMS and 4-H, I was selected to be an Explorer Guide for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) during the summers while in college. I organized, promoted, and presented a vast variety of educational programs for P.H. Hoeft State Park and the surrounding community.”

Her summer connection to MDNR led her to Hammond Bay Biological Station as a U.S. Geological Survey Biological Science Technician where she worked on many projects researching control of the invasive sea lamprey. Most recently, Margaret has started working for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and helps with outreach events, engaging the public and educating them on the invasive sea lamprey, the efforts to control it, and how native fish are being supported.

“I love our Great Lakes and my passion is to educate the public and surrounding community, especially our youth, about how important our Great Lakes are to us and our ecosystems. They are beautiful and full of life. Growing up with Lake Huron has been a blessing and I want our future generations, including my daughter, to grow up with what I did. I want people to be able to fish, learn about the vast number of species in our fresh water, and enjoy our Great Lakes.

My advice for anyone thinking about being a part of this career field is to get involved. Whether it is volunteering for an event, a club, or taking an internship, all of these opportunities will help you. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t just take the leap and do.”

Top photo left: Margaret at a summer camp
Top photo right: Margaret presenting for Michigan Conservation Week
Bottom left: Margaret working with Hammond Bay and sea lampreys
Bottom right: Margaret at an outreach event at TBNMS for Great Lakes Fishery Commission