2011 Maine Water Conference
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Augusta Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
Innovations in Water Resources Outreach & Education
Chairs: Catherine Schmitt, Communications Coordinator, Maine Sea Grant
Beth Bisson, Assistant Director for Outreach and Education, Maine Sea Grant
As communications coordinator for Maine Sea Grant, Catherine Schmitt conveys research findings and information about the coasts and oceans to Maine residents and visitors. Before joining Sea Grant in 2004, Schmitt visited remote lakes and ponds throughout Maine and the Northeast while completing her Master's degree in ecology and environmental science with the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Environmental & Watershed Research, also at the University of Maine. She has worked on science publications from the shores of Chesapeake Bay for the University of Maryland, spent two years as a wetlands consultant in western Massachusetts, and studied salt marshes with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Catherine Schmitt is the author of A Coastal Companion, A Year in the Gulf of Maine from Cape Cod to Canada, and her writing on science, nature, and environmental issues appears in regional newspapers, journals, and magazines.
Beth Bisson is the Assistant Director for Outreach and Education at Maine Sea Grant. She works with Sea Grant staff and partner organizations to deliver education and extension programming that promotes environmental literacy and sustainable use, conservation, and stewardship of Maine's ocean and coastal resources. Before settling in Maine, Beth worked on water quality policy for the Ocean Conservancy in San Francisco, CA, led conservation leadership programs for the Student Conservation Association in NH, CA, and WA, and taught environmental education in ME and in WA. She earned a Master of Environmental Management in water science, policy, and management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and holds a Bachelor's degree in Visual Art from Brown University.
Many of today’s science issues are multi-disciplinary and complex. From climate change to human health to landscape conservation, interdisciplinary research is placing new demands on outreach and education professionals. How do you keep up with the latest developments while implementing sustained outreach plans? How can education programs enhance literacy about basic scientific principles and follow the process of scientific discovery at the same time? This session seeks presentations about innovative natural resources outreach and education programs and projects that have or continue to tackle the big topics.
Educational Outreach and Student Involvement in Long-Term Monitoring for the Montsweag Brook Restoration Project
Dan Creek¹, W. Donald Hudson², Lynne Flaccus²
Montsweag Brook Restoration Project, Portland, ME
Chewonki Foundation, Wiscasset, Maine
A primary goal of the Montsweag Brook Restoration Project is to involve local students in long-term monitoring of this stream restoration effort in mid-coast Maine. The Chewonki Foundation has developed a monitoring plan that allows for significant data collection by students and others with limited technical expertise. While the program was only recently initiated, there has already been successful student participation from Chewonki Semester School and Wiscasset Middle School. The field science opportunities and related in-class activities combine together as a powerful introduction to the importance of stream restoration and barrier removal.
To reach a broader audience, an interactive web-based data management system has been created for the project. Using this website, which is designed for replication at similar projects, students, educators, and scientific researchers can access and download monitoring data from Montsweag Brook. The website includes on-line analysis tools so that users can more easily visualize changes to parameters such as stream morphology, water quality, riparian vegetation, and fish passage. Time-series photographs and videos are presented on the website, as well as field protocols modified for use with students and lesson plans that incorporate data from Montsweag Brook.
With proper planning, students and volunteers can significantly support long-term monitoring efforts for habitat restoration. The innovative educational program for the Montsweag Brook Restoration Project meets several important priorities: meaningful, hands-on educational opportunities; cost savings for comprehensive long-term monitoring; community involvement in local restoration work; and, broad outreach with information and data about the importance of stream restoration and barrier removal.
Social Capital and Social Network Changes in a School-Centered Research Program that Promotes Community Management of Drinking Water Sources
Teresa E. Thornton (student), Dr. Jessica Leahy
School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Social network analysis (SNA) is an established social science research tool that has yet to be applied to place-based educational programs. This analysis is critical to documenting creation and changes in social capital that result from stakeholder collaborations. This presentation will review SNA and show an application of this technique in a community based environmental monitoring research (CBEMR) program. This CBEMR employs secondary education students, state and local government, ENGOs, local businesses, local colleges, and community volunteers as citizen scientists that create a database of local groundwater quality to use as a baseline for natural resource management. While past studies have evaluated the reliability of data generated by students acting as scientists (Galloway, Tudor, & Vander Haegen, 2006), there have been few studies relating to power dynamics, social capital, and resilience in student-based CBEMR programs. We use qualitative and quantitative data gathered from a citizen science program conducted in 5 study sites in the northeastern United States. SNA with Pajek software was used to determine density, centralities, and ranking measures of networks. Results indicate that there were significant increases in social networks related to water quality after participation in the student-centered CBEMR program. There were also significant increases in social capital parameters leading to increased community involvement in natural resource management.
Watershed studies in schools to support student understanding of systems concepts
Bill Zoellick¹, Beth Bisson², Sarah Nelson³
SERC Institute, Winter Harbor, ME
Maine Sea Grant College Program, University of Maine, Orono, ME
Sen. George J. Mitchell Center, University of Maine, Orono, ME
For the past four years the SERC Institute at Acadia National Park, working in cooperation with the Mitchell Center and Maine Sea Grant at the University of Maine, has trained and supported teachers in participatory research that engages high school students in sample collection and data analysis. From a scientific standpoint, the work by students and teachers has supported a study of mercury burdens in biota at different trophic levels across different watersheds. The educational goals of the project include (1) engaging students in hands-on, place-based field studies (2) while familiarizing them with the methods of authentic research tied to Acadia National Park and (3) introducing them to perspectives and concepts that teach them how to think of watersheds as systems. This talk focuses on the project’s activities in support of the last objective: providing students with experience and instruction so they learn to think in terms of systems, as opposed to simple causation tied to concrete objects or actions. Our approach has been to provide teachers not only with supplies, materials, and training in the scientific aspects of the project, but also to engage them in developing linkages between the field research, the systems perspective, and existing curricula. The talk will review quantitative results from student surveys and assessments, lessons learned in the course or teacher professional development, a summary of recent project activity, and a description of opportunities for other teachers and schools to participate in the research and learning.