play icon
Spartan helmet
  • $900 RAISED OF $5,000 GOAL
  • 9 DONORS


  • Elizabeth Short $5.00
  • Yu Man Lee $100.00
  • Diane Sams $250.00
  • Marie Orttenburger $200.00
  • Anonymous $100.00
  • James Mackinder $100.00
  • Anonymous $100.00
  • Anonymous $25.00
  • Anonymous $20.00

Michigan Vernal Pools Research Fund

The Vernal Pool Patrol, organized by Michigan Natural Features Inventory (Michigan State University – Extension), is among one of the first statewide vernal pool monitoring programs in the country. The program’s ongoing success is due to the hardworking and dedicated community scientists who are fueled by a passion for nature and want to help protect unique places in Michigan. The Vernal Pool Patrol is also part of a larger effort called the Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership that is comprised of a team of dedicated educators, researchers, naturalists, and volunteers who strive to advance vernal pool research and conservation across Michigan.

What are vernal pools?

Vernal pools are naturally occurring, small, temporarily flooded wetlands found in shallow depressions across the landscape. Vernal pools are often called the coral reefs of the forest as they are hosts to incredible biodiversity! Vernal pools can occur in various ecosystems around the world but are primarily found in forested ecosystems across Michigan. These pools are isolated and do not have continuous connections with other large bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, or streams. Due to isolation, vernal pools lack fish and therefore are advantageous breeding grounds for many amphibian and invertebrate species. Evidence of breeding by a group of specific species, known as ‘indicators’, helps identify if a vernal pool is present. In Michigan, these indicator species include Fairy shrimp, Wood frog, Spotted salamander, and Blue-spotted salamander.

MNFI Needs your Support

Our greatest need is to find a way to consistently support our community scientists. Volunteers are forever changed by their time spent exploring these incredibly diverse ecosystems. The experience sparks curiosity about the living world and encourages stewardship of our lands. Your support can help ensure that volunteers have the proper support and equipment needed to participate in the program and get outside!

How your Donation will be Used

All donations will go directly to MNFI’s Michigan Vernal Pools Research Fund to support the following:

  • Purchase monitoring kits for program coordinators to have available for community scientists.
  • Host and provide training workshops each Spring to train volunteers and connect with program coordinators.
  • Support MNFI’s continued leadership and involvement with vernal pools research and conservation in the Great Lakes region.

Who We Are

Michigan Vernal Pool Patrol – The Vernal Pool Patrol launched in 2012 to gain a better understanding of the status, distribution, and ecology of vernal pools in Michigan. Information collected by community scientists is entered into the statewide Michigan Vernal Pool Database which can be used to help inform research and guide conservation management decisions across the state of Michigan. This program is coordinated by Yu Man Lee (Herpetologist, MNFI) and Courtney Ross (Research Assistant, MNFI). Vernal Pool Patrol (

Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership – The partnership’s mission is to increase awareness, understanding and protection of vernal pools through conservation, research, and education. The partnership is coordinated by the following organizations, Michigan Nature Association, Michigan Natural Features Inventory and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy. Michigan Vernal Pools Partnership (

Michigan Natural Features Inventory - Since 1980, MNFI has been working to guide the conservation of Michigan's biodiversity by providing the highest quality scientific expertise and information to our partners. MNFI’s group of scientists study a diversity of systems and species found in Michigan. Michigan Natural Features Inventory (

Make a Gift by Mail:

University Advancement
Spartan Way
535 Chestnut Road, Room 300
East Lansing, MI 48824

*Make check payable to Michigan State University and write “Appeal 23OOPCF1VERNPO” in the note section.