Shahram Missaghi, PhD
Extension Educator, University of Minnesota
Human activity on the landscape has drastically changed the natural hydrologic cycle by concentrating much of the output into surface water as excessive runoff. Some consequences of excessive runoff are flash flooding, loss of property and significant water quality degradation. Since the 1980s, a national effort called green infrastructure has focused on remedying the problem by providing a series of tools to minimize the impact of our developments by mimicking natural hydrology. Recently, there has been expanded and rapid growth in the number of publicly available stormwater educational programs for professionals and communities that focus on green infrastructure tools (referred to as best management practices). However, much of the growth is home based and addresses specific local needs and issues. Until now, a publicly available, uniform and comprehensive stormwater core curriculum has been missing. A collaborative group of stormwater educators have led the effort to develop a program to address this need.
Building the collaborations:
A network of collaborative group of stormwater educators from across the country was created to develop such educational program as described above. The group met regularly to identify the theme, specific topics, and the best delivery methods for the proposed curriculum. The collaborative also identified the specific topics (such as design of stormwater practices vs. their construction), the necessary level of knowledge, and the appropriate audience for the specific topic.
A pilot test was conducted, June 2015. Project partners were involved in compiling a list of potential individuals representing the identified targeted audience to participate in the pilot test. The pilot testers were invited (email) to participate having been asked to take the course and complete a survey to record their experience and to share comments about the course. Feedback was received from five pilot testers (N=5) and was used to refine the course once more. The subsequent changes in the course were significant enough that it compelled us to conduct another set of pilot testers (N=6). The current course reflects all the changes and the course has been well received by recent users.
A formative evaluation of the curriculum will be required from the participants upon their completion of the curriculum prior to issuance of a certificate of completion. Participant attendance and progress will be monitored. Subsequent use of course materials for training at local offices or larger events will be tracked and evaluated to measure project impact.
Promotions: we will be at the 2016 ANREP delivering a 30 min presentation on the purpose of the Core Curriculum, how folks can get involved with NCRWN Stormwater Community; and sharing the process (story) of how the core curriculum got developed. Soon, we will also have an updated poster that we can share with our partners to present/post at various events and functions.
Future: We have monthly teleconferences on the second Tuesday at 9:00 am, and all are welcome to attend – just email us for telemeting instructions
Impact: We all have learned much from participating in developing the core curriculum and have been able to apply these learning in other areas as well. For example, recently, we (MN Extension) had applied for an EPA education grant – where much of the grant outline was based on our learning from developing the core curriculum. Particularly, we duplicated the development process from the core curriculum project.