From drought and green infrastructure to HABs: Four new seed-funded projects selected for Network funding

The North Central Region Water Network is pleased to announce four new seed-funded projects recently selected for funding. These projects address 1) opportunities and actions arising from the December 2018 North Central Region One Water Action Forum and 2) other water-related extension priorities in the region. The projects, which begin this month, include:

  • An Extension Guidebook to Help Communities Plan for Drought Using Scenario Exercises
    This project will look at existing research on drought scenario exercises and compile them into an interactive Extension Guide. The guide will help extension specialists and others in community development educate communities about drought, the importance of planning, engage community members in the planning process, and explore case studies based on other community’s experiences.
    Project Director: Mark Svoboda, National Drought Mitigation Center and University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Building an Equitable and Just Green Infrastructure Strategy and Workforce in the North Central Extension Region
    Partners across the Network will address two social justice questions that come with green infrastructure (GI) – how to equally distribute GI in a community, and how can we reduce barriers to build a GI workforce that more closely mirrors population demographics and is accessible to more people? To help answer these questions, the project will host an Equitable Green Infrastructure Summit to develop actionable outcomes around these social equity questions. The summit will include listening sessions to map community assets, opportunities, and barriers, and participants will identify measurable actions and recommendations for equitable GI distribution and workforce development.
    Project Director: Lisa Merrifield, University of Illinois Extension
  • Filling the Pipeline – Developing a Regional Undergraduate Watershed Focused Extension Internship Program
    Successful water management requires an understanding of agriculture, natural resource management, social sciences and economics, public health, and other water-related disciplines, as well as planning and project management. Today’s undergraduate students are often focused on acquiring a depth of knowledge in one or two disciplines. This project will develop and pilot an internship program providing students with broader perspectives and experience in water-related research and extension education to ensure a future workforce exists that is capable of working in watershed management within extension.
    Project Director: John McMaine, South Dakota State University
  • Reservoir observer student scientists (ROSS): Engaging youth in harmful algal bloom monitoring
    This project will determine if cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) occur and produce toxins in the shoulder and winter seasons. The team will engage high school students as Reservoir Observer Student Scientists in five U.S. states to collect year-round water samples. Engaging our youth and their teachers in actively serving as the stewards of water quality will empower these diverse and underrepresented populations to be knowledgeable and engaged in research related to CyanoHABs and their impact on economic and human health.
    Project Directors: Dan Downing, University of Missouri Extension, and Rebecca North, University of Missouri

We look forward to working with each of these projects to facilitate progress toward the Network goals of increasing connectivity and learning between university professionals and partners, building capacity of universities to address multi-state water-related issues, and generating measurable economic, environmental and social impacts in the short and long term.

Congratulations to our recipients!

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