Kayakers venturing out on a thrilling but potentially dangerous paddle to the Apostle Islands sea caves on Lake Superior can now check conditions from shore on a kiosk developed by UW-Madison researchers with the Sea Grant Institute.

The kiosk is an update to an online monitoring system, seacaveswatch.org, developed two years ago. The online site proved useful from afar but not as much close by because paddlers didn’t always have mobile devices with them. If they did, the signal could be weak.

Now, they don’t need a device or a signal to get answers to pressing questions: How high are the waves? What’s the water temperature? How about the wind speed? The kiosk is installed at Meyers Beach, the launch site for the caves, which are about 1½ miles away.

“They can check conditions right before they go on the water,” said Chin Wu, a UW engineering professor who developed the kiosk with Gene Clark, a coastal engineering specialist with the Sea Grant Institute, and Josh Anderson, a UW graduate student.

Conditions matter in the caves because kayakers can get stuck and be forced overboard into sometimes chilly waters. Two paddlers died in recent years.

MATC student mentor program gets grant

A program that pairs minority students with mentors at Madison Area Technical College won a nearly $69,000 grant recently from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp.

The Scholars of Mentoring Program at MATC was one of 28 programs in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota awarded “college success” grants totaling $4.5 million from Great Lakes.

The program connects students with mentors from MATC who provide support, encouragement and guidance for success in college and the community. 

UW cow comfort research available to all

Comfortable cows make more milk and live healthier lives. The Dairyland Initiative, developed three years ago by UW-Madison researchers to identify cow comfort factors, is now available online to farmers nationally thanks to a $50,000 grant from Dean Foods Foundation.

Previously, Wisconsin farmers could access the resources free while out-of-state farmers paid a fee. Now, it’s available free for all for the next two years.

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