Meet Dr. Mike Shriberg, a University of Michigan alum, environmental advocate, and family man who is helping the world get green one Great Lake at a time.
Finding a Home in Ann Arbor
Shriberg was first welcomed to Ann Arbor in 1997 by his now wife, Rebecca, and received a Ph.D. in Resource Policy and Behavior from the UM. After graduation, he headed to Pittsburgh for a job as an Assistant Professor, but it wasn’t long before the Maize and Blue called him home again.
“When the opportunity came up to move back to Ann Arbor, I didn’t hesitate for a second,” he said of the decision to move back in 2004. Ready to start a family, Shriberg knew it was the perfect place to live. “There’s an amazing amount of things to do, both for families, students in college, and even retirees; all the way through the life cycle.”
After a few years at an environmental advocacy organization and Ecology Center, Shriberg began work at the Graham Sustainability Institute at UM, where he introduced students to environmental issues and encouraged involvement. “Mostly what I did was to educate and empower future environmental leaders,” he said.
Shriberg continues that mission in his new job as the Great Lakes Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation. Educating others and working hard to protect the Great Lakes, when Shriberg’s not busy investigating ways to prevent invasive species from damaging the lakes’ ecosystems, he focuses his attention on climate and energy issues. “We work on getting access to clean drinking water,” he said. “Which has become increasingly in focus because of the water crisis going on in Flint right now, and the water crisis that happened in Toledo two years ago, where people didn’t have access to clean, safe drinking water.”
To Shriberg, protecting the water sources and making sure it’s available to the people of Michigan is his life’s work. “For me to wake up everyday when I’m going to work, it’s not just for myself,” said Shriberg. “It’s for my kids and it’s for everybody that needs clean water.”
Currently, Shriberg and his team are working with the Flint River Watershed Council to diagnose the quality of the water and are busy campaigning in Washington D.C for funds to replace lead pipes and other restorative projects in the City of Flint.
Mixing Work and Family
Shriberg household, environmental protection is a family affair. “To me, there’s a seamless integration between my professional life, my personal interests, and my value system,” said Shriberg.
Shriberg and his wife Rebecca, along with their two daughters — Sarah, ten-years-old, and Heather, seven-years-old — maintain a net zero energy home, which generates just about as much energy as they use. They are keen on recycling as well. Sarah and Heather participate in their school’s ‘Green Team,’ which teaches children about the benefits of recycling and gets them involved with projects like collecting and reusing bottle caps.
The eco-conscious family spends as much time as possible outdoors. “The core mission of the National Wildlife Federation is to get children outside,” said Shriberg. He sees that goal is met with his own children, who enjoy frequent hiking and camping trips.
What Makes His Work Meaningful
When it comes to work, Shriberg knows he is a lucky man. “I always know that every action I’m taking is for a good cause,” he said. “I don’t think anyone can say they love every second of everything they do at work, but I can say that I truly enjoy on a deep level what I’m doing, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”