Originally from St. Clair Shores, Michigan, Hannah Mico (she/her) now lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi lands.
Hannah joined River Network in 2020. She is the Resilient Communities Manager, assisting organizations across the Great Lakes and beyond to build capacity in themselves and their communities. Hannah studied Natural Resource Management and Photography at Grand Valley State University. After completing her degree in 2016, she dove right into environmental nonprofit work serving in various roles related to environmental education and community outreach for local organizations in West Michigan, as well as a stint working for a municipally-owned utility as a community education specialist. Outside of work, Hannah is an avid gardener and the co-owner of Midwest Movement Collective. She also serves on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and the Mayor’s Next Generation Advisory Board for the City of Grand Rapids.
What called you to work in water?
Growing up in the Great Lakes, water was always an integral part of my identity. I was less than a year old my first time out on a boat in Lake St. Clair, and grew up spending every season on the water: summers on Seaway, Strawberry, and Harsen’s Islands; winters pretending to ice skate outside my dad’s ice-fishing shanty; falls and springs with toes in the water because it was too cold to jump all the way in and swim. “Working” in water, whether it’s paid work or not, is an obligatory part of my existence. In words I am graciously borrowing, “water is a relative,” and raised me with intention. Being called to work in water is an iteration of being in relationship with water over the course of my life.
What was your earliest memory around water?
When I was a baby I called my bottle, “bubba.” On a boat ride in Lake St. Clair, we hit a wave and bubba went flying out of my hands and into the Lake. I consequently started yelling, “bye bye bubba!” and waving to my bubba off the back of the boat. It became a joke in my family for years, and to this day my parents will remind me of my bubba if we’re out on the boat together. Ironic as it is, my first memory of water is accidentally littering plastic into a fresh water body.
If you didn’t work in water or conservation, what would you be doing?
There was a time I would have answered this question by saying “I would operate a dance studio,” but I’m doing that, too, now. If I wasn’t working in water, or owning a dance studio, I sincerely hope I would be resting, baking bread, gardening, and pursuing creative interests without the pressure to generate financial gain.
How do you recharge outside of work?
I enjoy kayaking, napping in my kayak on the water, and spotting birds and wildlife from my kayak. I’m also a pole dancer and when I’m not operating a dance studio, I do try and make time to actually dance.