Jerry Dennis is an experienced and widely sought public speaker whose appearances at universities, conferences, symposia, workshops, and other events have captivated audiences young and old.

To inquire about his availability or to book an event, contact him at jcdennis[at]charter[dot]net.

Among the subjects he discusses are:

—The Great Lakes: Of North America’s major natural features, the Great Lakes are the least understood and the least appreciated. Few people realize that if we could pour all the surface freshwater in North America into 100 buckets, the Great Lake would fill 95 of them. Or that the Great Lakes contain one-fifth of the liquid freshwater on the surface of the planet. Or that if the Great Lakes watershed were a separate nation, it would be the third-largest economy on earth. In person, as in his books The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas and The Windward Shore: A Winter on the Great Lakes, Jerry’s stories of lake journeys, storms and shipwrecks, and human and natural history bring the lakes to life and demonstrate that they are immense natural wonders with global importance.

—The Wonders of Water: With a water crisis looming and global experts declaring water “the oil of the 21st century,” Jerry Dennis reminds us of the wonders of this most astonishing compound on earth. His discussion of the  physical qualities of water in all its forms, and the nature of rivers, lakes, and oceans, brings a fresh perspective to the challenges we face as clean water becomes more scarce and the threat of privatization more imminent.

—Getting to the Heart of The Story: Jerry discusses his adventures as a veteran magazine writer and book author. His stories range from canoeing on whitewater rivers in the U.S. and Canada, to wilderness backpacking (with the inevitable bear encounters), to sailing 1,500 miles through the Great Lakes and up the East Coast  in a concrete schooner with crumbling hull and no radio—and the storms and mishaps and colorful characters encountered along the way. He tells riveting stories of unforgettable people he has met, including a man who survived the 1975 storm on Lake Superior that sank the 729-foot-long Edmund Fitzgerald.

— Nature in Our Lives: Jerry has spent much of his life in the natural world—canoeing and fishing, studying landscapes and wildlife, and investigating human responses to the wild—and has much to say about our complex and changing relationships with nature. He discusses our sense of place on earth—what it means to us as individuals and societies to be aware of the world in our immediate orbit—and why we have always cared enough to enrich our cities with parks, gardens, zoos, museums and other places where nature and culture intersect.

—Get the Kids Outdoors: For the first time in human history more people live in cities than in the country. As a result, our children have fewer opportunities than ever to encounter wild nature while still retaining their fascination with wildlife, weather, and natural landscapes. Jerry discusses the implications for these recent cultural changes and suggests ways we can help our kids receive an education outside of classrooms and away from electronic devices.

—Creativity: The Art of the Blind Leap: In the nearly 30 years he has earned his living from his books, essays, short fiction, and poetry, Jerry has learned much about the importance of focus, discipline, hard work, humor, and play in cultivating creativity. His thoughts on risk-taking and working from the heart are an inspiration to anyone who dreams of living by their creative wits.


“One of our very best speakers ever . . . filled with passion and wisdom. . . . [Thanks] for inspiring many of our winners to quote your words during their acceptance speeches. The Awards Event last night was one of our best ever in 24 years.” —Greg Reisig, Executive Director, Northern Michigan Environmental Action Committee

“We really enjoyed having you speak to our students and faculty. You’re inspirational, entertaining, and a fantastic author. Thank you for joining us, and we sincerely hope to see you again.” — Students for a Sustainable Earth, Western Michigan University

“You continue to inspire us (and impress us) with your writing and your stewardship ethic for the Great Lakes. Thank you so much for your inspiring words in Chicago.” —Robyn Thorson, Director, Midwest Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

“Thank you for your wonderful program on the Great Lakes during the 2nd Annual Festival of Nature. I received a multitude of favorable comments on your presentation. Hopefully we can bring you back in the near future.” —Paul Regnier, Executive Director, The Ridges Sanctuary, Baileys Harbor, WI


2016—Keynote address, The Nature Conservancy’s Great Lakes Trustee Summit, Buffalo, New York.

2015—Keynote, The Living Great Lakes, Kalamazoo Reading Together, Kalamazoo, MI.

2014—Keynote, The Living Great Lakes, campus book of the semester, The Year of Water, West Shore Community College, Ludington, MI

2013—Keynote, The Windward Shore, campus book of the year, Visiting Authors Series, Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Kalamazoo, MI

2012—Keynote, “Can We Inspire a New Generation of Stewards?” Place-Based Education Conference, East Lansing, MI

2012 – Keynote, “The Living Great Lakes,” Year of Water Celebration, Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, MI

2012 – Lecture, “Writing Nonfiction,” The State of the Book Conference, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

2012 – Keynote, “The State of the Great Lakes,” Environmental Protection Agency Conference, Cleveland, OH

2012 – Lecture/Workshop, “Writing the Sense of Place,” Queens University, Kingston, Ontario

2012 – Lecture, “Hemingway in Michigan,” Annual Conference of the International Hemingway Society, Petoskey, MI

2012 – Keynote, “The Soul of the Great Lakes,” Annual Banquet, Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council, Traverse City, MI

2012 – Lecture, “Winter Walks,” Gwen Frostic Lecture Series, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

2011 – Keynote, “This Land, This Water,” Great Lakes Symposium, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

2011 – Keynote, “Blue Gold: World Water Crisis,” Oakland University, Rochester, MI

2011 – TED-X Lecture, “Take the Leap: Living Creatively,” Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI

2010 – Lecture/Panel Discussion, “The Business of Writing,” University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

2010 – Keynote, “The Living Great Lakes,” Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Community Read, Ann Arbor, MI

2009 – Keynote, “The State of the Great Lakes,” Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Case Western Reserve University

2008 – Keynote, Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, Council of State Governments, Chicago, IL

2008 – Lecture, “Landscape and Literature: Northern Michigan in Stories,” Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI

2007 – Lecture, “Great Lakes, Great Stories,” Macomb Cultural Center, Clinton Township, MI

2007 – Keynote, “The Literature of Sport,” Inauguration of the Reed Draper Collection, Clarke Historical Library, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, MI

2006 – Keynote, “Living Waters,” Shared Waters Symposium, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

2006 – Lecture, “The Great Lakes,” Wege Environmental Lecture, Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, MI

2005 – Keynote, “Why the Great Lakes Matter,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Listening Session with Great Lakes Partners, Chicago, IL

2005 – Keynote,  “Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas,” Environmental School Annual Banquet, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY

2003 – Keynote, “A History of Shared Waters,” Lake Michigan Federation Banquet, Chicago, IL

2003 – Keynote, “Reading Nature,” Door County Nature Festival, Baily’s Harbor, WI

1999 – Keynote, “One Writer’s Beginnings,” Michigan Library Association Annual Banquet, Lansing, MI

—Author presentation, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads, January 2010:

—TEDx lecture, Traverse City, Michigan, May 17, 2011: “The Art of the Blind Leap: Why Creativity Needs Risk”:

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