GeoInspirations: Amy Work (OWU ’04) – Connecting People, Communities, Geotechnology, and the Environment by Joseph J. Kerski

Amy Work’s zeal for making a positive difference in our world through geography and geotechnologies led her to Costa Rica, where she has been working closely with students, community leaders, and conservation organizations for the past few years.

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Directions Magazine and author Joseph Kerski report on Amy Work, who graduated from OWU in 2004 with Environmental Studies, Geography, and Urban Studies majors, and her work in southern Costa Rica in Directions Magazine’s GeoInspirations Series.


By Joseph Kerski

I met Amy Work through the Teaching with Spatial Technology (TwiST) program that she conducted for educators at the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technologies in Auburn, New York.  The goal of TwiST is to empower student discovery through GIS by teaching K-12 teachers and college faculty the skills and perspectives needed to teach with these tools.  Each year, Amy actively grew the network of educators who are using the TwiST content effectively in their own instruction across the country.

I also visited Amy a few times at Cayuga College and was consistently impressed by her ability to conduct research in remote sensing and environmental issues while simultaneously teaching numerous face-to-face and online courses.  She was never content to teach just her own students; she has always been keen on teaching other faculty.

Her zeal for making a positive difference in our world through geography and geotechnologies led her to Costa Rica, where she has been working closely with students, community leaders, and conservation organizations for the past few years. As a Directions Magazine reader, you may already be familiar with Amy Work; she and Anne Haywood wrote an article on applying geospatial technologies to solve local problems for our June 2015 edition.

The seeds of Amy’s career were sown back in her high school mentorship program at the City of Westerville Ohio’s Planning and Development Department.  “I thought I wanted to be a civil engineer, but this mentorship position, which evolved into a job during school breaks, including summer, introduced me to GIS,” she said. “This was back in the 1990s when not many city governments were using GIS.”

Then, in her freshman class at Ohio Wesleyan University, she took a course called Maps and GIS taught by geography and cartography professor John Krygier. After additional coursework in  cultural geography and economic geography, she said, “It all made so much sense to me.”

Amy ended up with a very impressive triple major in geography, urban studies, and environmental studies from Ohio Wesleyan University.  She went on to pursue a master’s degree in geography from Syracuse University, graduating in 2006.  She then became the GIS coordinator at the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technologies housed at Cayuga College.

One of Amy’s projects at the institute was to create an interactive tool to foster analytical thinking about global climate change and the potential impact on human health by enabling investigations between climate and socioeconomic and health data. This tool and associated activities focused on real-world issues that people will continue to encounter as changes in precipitation and temperature values impact agricultural lands and food production. This further impacts access and quality of food, altering the availability of freshwater, and exposing greater numbers of people to malaria for the first time via new habitats for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.  A critical component of this, and other projects Amy has been involved in, is training educators in the use of the tools and activities that help them and their students  investigate the data and gain skills in critical thinking, spatial thinking, and geotechnologies.

After connecting with Anita and Roger Palmer, founders of GISetc.com, Amy began working and living in Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica in 2012.  Bahia Ballena is a unique community.  It is the gateway to Marino Ballena National Park, one of the first marine protected areas in Latin America. Tourism related to marine life in the park is the primary income generator for the area. In this community of 3,000 residents, more than 200 individuals thus far have participated in an activity or event using GPS and GIS to map and analyze data.  Projects with which Amy has been involved have included reducing trash through community partnerships, combating beach erosion, analyzing water quality, and mapping humpback whale sightings.  She engages all of these with the help of GIS and field-collected and mapped data, but more importantly, with the help of the community.  Her projects involve teachers, students, community officials, nonprofit organizations, businesses, parents, and others.  Her work is funded by Geospatial Educators’ Opportunities for Partnership Outreach Research and Training (Geoporter), a nonprofit organization designed to send educators around the world to solve local issues with GIS.

When I asked Amy to identify what, or who, has been the most inspirational to her career, she replied, “I don’t think I can pick just one class or person. There are so many people who have inspired me along the way, thus the reason I am where I am.  However, in my career as a geospatial educator teaching other educators to use geospatial technologies, I had a great group of teachers from Hannibal School District participate [in the summer institutes].  These teachers helped me merge my knowledge of geospatial technologies with what classroom teachers needed the most.  Prior to these workshops, I had only taught GIS and remote sensing labs for technical skills.  I began teaching GIS for the purpose of engaging youth in exploring their community and their world.  Therefore, it is Bob Jones, Carol Burch, and Tom O’Neil to whom I owe so many thanks for not only sharing their knowledge, but becoming true friends.”

One of the things I admire about Amy is that she actively connects with her alma mater.  She has partnered with students and faculty at Ohio Wesleyan University, for example, to bring them to Costa Rica and involve them in community projects there: One examined what could be done to reduce yearly water shortages, another examined banana plantations, and another used a UAV to collect high resolution imagery for the coastal area near Bahia Ballena.

Another thing I admire is that Amy doesn’t just study a topic—she acts upon the knowledge that she gains.  For example, as part of the Semilla de Ballena (Seeds of Ballena) project, she and community members germinated and planted 1,000 manglillo, sota caballo, and cedro maria trees to combat beach and soil erosion.  In another example, Amy doesn’t just say, “Schools are important to the region’s future,” and leave it at that—she actively works with educators to identify their needs and empower them in the use of GIS, GPS, and remote sensing technologies.   In other words, she practices what she preaches.  She is patient—whether with trees or with people—she realizes that thoughtful efforts focused on important issues will reap long-term benefits.

Amy is also a good listener.  You don’t move to another country and work on successful projects with local people by blazing forward with your own agenda; you do it through careful listening to their needs, building trust, and working toward common goals.

I have taught with Amy for many years as part of the Teachers Teaching Teachers GIS (T3G) program at Esri, a professional development opportunity that resulted in an online community and a face-to-face intensive GIS-focused institute.  I have been consistently impressed with Amy’s focus on doing everything to the highest standards of quality, down to the smallest detail of instruction or component of the lesson.

After listening to Amy’s keynote speech at a recent Applied Geography Conference, I could not help but think that her efforts have always been exactly that–applied.  She applies what she knows to teacher training, to teaching students, and to helping people and communities achieve their potential.

Amy has been involved with many projects involving geography over the years, but the one she is perhaps proudest of is a Syracuse Community Geography project with which she was involved while studying for her master’s degree.  The project applied GIS to social issues such as food security and access to resources for senior citizens. It was an expansion of how GIS and geography could help city organizations and institutions better understand their clients, their clients’ needs, and how to best allocate their resources.

Amy says she is also proud of what she is currently doing with Geoporter and teaching community residents to apply the technology to their own concerns. “Perhaps it’s hard to say I am most proud of this project, because to me it is still ongoing. It’s not complete. Maybe in time I will see it not as my daily work, but as something to be extremely proud of.”

Given Amy’s leadership, I asked her what she thinks is the most important thing we, the geography community, need to work on.  Amy responded, “I think we should continue to look at social and human dynamics related to environmental changes; for example, applying geography to human health, including infectious disease, or just for a better understanding of individuals’ medical histories.  How do changing climates impact disease patterns and incidence?  Furthermore, how does climate impact the political sphere or the refugee crisis, and how does it alter access to food and water resources?”

Amy’s advice to new geographers?  “Geography is all around us. Find what interests you and apply your skills to helping better understand that topic. Keep trying and you will be a geographer. There are so many of us in the world, and when you do meet them, you will find you have so much in common.”

Amy believes in dreaming big and making those dreams a reality.  As she said in an article for the Ohio Wesleyan University news, “If you would have told me when I was in college that I’d be living in the tropics and working, I would have said you’re joking, there is no way…Now I know that anything’s possible.”

For more information about Amy Work’s projects, see the Geoporter nonprofit organization’s webpage.

Preserving a Paradise: The OWU Connection

An Ohio Wesleyan alumna, professors, and students are teaming up and using high-tech geography in Costa Rica to help preserve a rich and wonderful ecosystem.

(Photo by Alejandro Orozco)

An Ohio Wesleyan alumna, professors, and students are teaming up and using high-tech geography in Costa Rica to help preserve a rich and wonderful ecosystem.

Working with Geoporter’s Amy Work ’04 (far left), the OWU team included (from left) Professor John Krygier, Olivia Lease ’17, Michael Durfee ’17, Christopher Pessell ’18, Luke Steffen ’16, Maddy Coalmer ’18, and Assistant Professor Nathan Amador.

Looking out at the lush, vivid greenery around her simple home in Costa Rica, Amy Work ’04 can scarcely believe her good fortune. The sky is a gorgeous blue, a crystal-clear ocean is nearby, colorful tropical birds swoop overhead, and the sunshine is endless.

It’s a far cry from her growing-up years in Westerville and her college years at Ohio Wesleyan University, where weather tended more toward overcast skies and freezing Midwest winters.

“If you would have told me when I was in college that I’d be living in the tropics and working I would have said you’re joking, there is no way,” Work says. “Now I know that anything’s possible.”

A lofty sentiment, to be sure. But one she believes in so firmly that she’s trying to pass it along to other OWU students by inviting them to visit—and learn—in her little piece of paradise.

Work’s life on the eastern coast of Costa Rica centers on something she was introduced to at Ohio Wesleyan: GIS—geographic information system—technology. In its simplest form, it’s a way to display several sets of data on a single map so users can see and analyze the relationships between each. Accessed through computer software, the technology is used in fields ranging from archaeology to mosquito control to politics—anything that can use location as a factor.

GIS technology was growing in popularity in 2000 when Work was an OWU freshman taking a mapping course taught by geology and geography professor John Krygier.

“That class talked about how maps have helped us understand the world over time, and at the end it talked about GIS,” Work says. A follow-up class taught her the nitty-gritty of GIS and convinced her of its power. By the time she graduated in 2004 with a triple major in geography, urban studies, and environmental studies, she knew she wanted to pursue a career centered on GIS.

Work was sharp, focused, and fully engaged in learning about GIS, Krygier says, especially in upper-level courses where students used the technology to help map potential pathways for future Delaware bike paths. Eventually, Delaware created new paths based on the students’ work.

“She’s one of those people who has a vision and can see the parts needed to make it happen,” Krygier says. “What Amy got in that class was that there’s a tool that can make big, good things happen.”

After graduating from Syracuse University with a master’s degree in geography in 2006, Work became an education and GIS coordinator at the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, or IAGT, in Auburn, New York. Through her work there she met Anita and Roger Palmer, founders of GISetc, a for-profit company that helps educators learn to use GIS in the classroom.

Beginning in 2009, the Palmers began traveling to the Costa Rican coastal village of Bahia Ballena to introduce GIS to community leaders, in the hopes the technology would help the village transition from a farming-and-fishing economy to a tourism economy. When it became obvious the couple’s yearly visits weren’t enough for the project to prosper, they asked Work to live and work there full-time.

That’s what she’s done since August 2012. She’s funded by Geoporter, a nonprofit organization set up by Work, the Palmers, and two Bahia Ballena community members. It’s designed to send educators around the world to do exactly what Work is doing in Costa Rica: solve local issues with GIS. This is Geoporter’s first project.

A hallmark of Geoporter is helping communities help themselves, Work explains. “The community members are the ones who are doing it,” she says. “The community has the goals and the objectives, and the focus is on getting community members to use the technology themselves.”

Bahia Ballena leaders decided to tackle trash in the streets with the help of GIS. For a decade, trash had been picked up curbside at homes, but in public places, residents tended to toss it on the ground, Work says. As a result, trash ended up in local streams and then in the ocean, reducing the area’s appeal for tourists.

Work suggested mapping where trash was coming from as a first step. In 2013, she and community members collected trash at specific intervals on the road, counted the kinds of trash found there, and mapped the results using GIS. They found a high concentration of candy wrappers outside grocery stores near schools, for example, from students buying candy on their way home. Soccer fields—popular community gathering spots—had food wrappers and bottles.

“Life in Costa Rica revolves around family, church and soccer, so on Sundays the entire town shows up to watch the games. And there were no trash cans near the soccer fields.” – Amy Work ’04

“Life in Costa Rica revolves around family, church, and soccer, so on Sundays the entire town shows up to watch the games,” Work says. “And there were no trash cans near the soccer fields.”

An analysis of the mapped trash produced action within the year: Trash cans with sections for recyclables and sections for non-recyclables were added where they would reduce the most trash, and an education program encouraged residents to use the cans.

Since then, trash in streams has diminished and more is being recycled—exactly what Geoporter was set up to accomplish.

To spread the word about the success and encourage others to embrace the technology, Work turned to her alma mater. She contacted Krygier, who had first taught her GIS, and his new colleague, Nathanael Amador, and asked: Would Ohio Wesleyan students be interested in working with Geoporter?

The idea jelled when Work returned to the states in 2014 to be inducted into the Ohio Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame for her starring role on the Battling Bishops’ national title-winning women’s soccer teams of 2001 and 2002. She talked up her GIS project with Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones and by 2015, Amador, with Krygier’s help, was offering a travel-learning course to Costa Rica. Such courses are a core element of The OWU Connection, helping students connect classroom learning with real-world practice in global settings.

“I still feel such a connection to the students at Ohio Wesleyan,” Work says. “I wanted them to see what I’m doing with my degree and to instill in students that you can apply your knowledge to anything and, if you have a passion, follow it.”

The proposal had clicked with Amador, an assistant professor of geology and geography who’d begun working at Ohio Wesleyan in 2014. He was teaching Environmental Alterations, a required class for environmental studies majors, and added the Costa Rica portion as an option for additional class credit.

“What Amy does embodies the point of the course, which is how humans impact the environment,” Amador says. “And it ties together the whole idea of being at Ohio Wesleyan, which is that graduation isn’t the end of your involvement with the University community.”

By December 2015, five students, along with Amador and Krygier, were bumping along the mostly unpaved roads of Costa Rica. Each had completed an environmental project centered on the country before their trip, and their 11-day visit expanded on those projects.

“It’s a good model. Our alumni are spread out all over the world, and I’m hoping other travel-learning courses will take advantage of that.” – John Krygier, professor of geology and geography

Madeleine Coalmer ’18 examined the effects of ecotourism, global warming, and climate change on water supplies in Costa Rica. She wanted to find out what could be done in the future to reduce yearly water shortages during the dry season. She soon realized that even her use of water at home in Youngstown, Ohio, could ultimately affect the water supply in Central America.

“When my mom picked me up from the airport after the trip, the first thing I told her was I’m going to be more cautious of how much water I’m using,” she says.

Coalmer also learned how much opportunity her chosen major, geography, can provide.

“Amy’s work shows that you can be successful and flourish with a geography major, and for her to have taken the same classes in the major that I’m taking meant even more,” Coalmer says. “It showed me that I could reach out to others and have connections all over the world.”

Chris Pessell ’18 of Cincinnati had studied the impact of African palm-oil plantations on the soil, water, animals, and plants of Costa Rica. African palms were brought to the country after Costa Rica’s banana-growing industry shut down. While they’ve helped the economy, native mangrove forests have been destroyed to make way for the plantations.

Pessell’s view of the industry changed when he visited a plantation on the trip. He realized he’d inflated its harm to the environment.

“I assumed it was like a tree farm, but there was a carpet of plants under the trees and a ton of different bugs,” he says. As long as the plantations aren’t expanding, he says, it doesn’t appear they’ll do additional damage to the environment.

Pessell particularly enjoyed another trip project: testing water in the Bahia Ballena area to ensure clean drinking water is available. After the trip, he helped map the data and hopes to add more as additional testing is done periodically.

“Development has encroached on the amount of water available,” Work says. “We’re mapping the water quality and the stream flow to understand what’s happening and to ensure that our dirty water is taken care of.”

The work cemented Pessell’s plan to pursue a career in water-quality testing when he graduates with his geography major.

In addition to the palm-oil plantation, students and professors visited two national parks, a bat sanctuary and a pineapple plantation; kayaked through mangrove forests; and took a whale-watching tour (but, unfortunately, saw no whales.)

Interestingly, neither Work nor Amador had opportunities similar to the Costa Rica trip while they were students.

Work’s plans to travel abroad were dashed by 9/11. Instead of traveling, she applied her GIS knowledge on local projects as a student, such as the bike-trail project.

For Amador, plenty of opportunities for study and travel existed at The Ohio State University where he obtained his undergraduate degree, but he had no money to participate.

“I think part of my passion for this is living through the students, letting them take advantage of these opportunities,” he says. “I was interested in getting students to really understand what it means to study this content outside of the classroom and to understand that people are employed doing what you’re learning in this class.”

“We’re mapping the water quality and the stream flow&hellips;to ensure that our dirty water is taken care of.” – Amy Work

The January trip was the second time an Ohio Wesleyan student had visited Work. The first was a year ago, when graduate Christian Gehrke ’15 took a University drone to Bahia Ballena to capture a birds-eye view of the community. The new imagery updated some from 2011 and has a higher resolution. Work will use it to see changes in the environment over time.

“We don’t have the resources to acquire a drone,” she says. “But the student had the technology to help us advance what we’re doing here.”

Krygier hopes the collaboration with Work spurs similar collaborations with OWU alumni.

“It’s a good model,” he says. “Our alumni are spread out all over the world, and I’m hoping other travel-learning courses will take advantage of that.”

In Costa Rica, the link between alumni and OWU continues. Amador visited this summer to take more water samples, and another OWU student took additional aerial photos with a drone.

Work appreciates the extra hands, the equipment and the enthusiasm that students and professors bring to the Geoporter project, but she also sees the collaboration as a way she’s giving back to the University.

“I want to be able to share with students what the University taught me,” she says. “It provided me with the foundation to know that you can learn and do whatever you want to. It shaped me into what I am today.”


Kathy Lynn Gray is a freelance writer from Columbus, OH.

To learn more about the GIS project and travel-learning course, see flickr.com/photos/geoporter/ and geoporter.net, or contact Amy Work at amy@geoporter.net.

Originally published 09/21/2016 in the OWU Magazine.


 

Internship at the United Nations / Global Sustainability

An internship opportunity from John Romano (OWU 2012) who works for the Transparency, Accountability and Participation (TAP) Network at the United Nations.

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An internship opportunity from John Romano (OWU 2010) who works for the Transparency, Accountability and Participation (TAP) Network at the United Nations.

APPLY HERE

STARTING DATE: ASAP/ DURATION 6 MONTHS

CATEGORY: FULL-TIME (UNPAID) / LOCATION: NEW YORK

Program Overview

The Transparency, Accountability & Participation (TAP) Network is a broad network of civil society organizations (CSOs) that works to ensure that open, inclusive, accountable and effective governance is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda, and that civil society are recognized and mobilized as indispensable partners in the design, implementation of and accountability for sustainable development policies, at all levels.

The TAP Network engages some of the foremost expert organizations on the issues of transparency, accountability and participatory governance. TAP benefits from the invaluable expertise, experiences and unique perspectives of its members, all of whom come together to collaborate on joint work and common positions under the TAP Network umbrella. This work is underpinned by recognition that we maximize reach and influence when many stakeholders speak with a unified voice.

The work of the TAP Network is funded by grants from a group of generous donors, including the Open Society Foundations, Hewlett Foundation and the Omidyar Network.

You can find more about the work of the TAP Network at www.tapnetwork2030.org

Vision:

TAP’s vision for the 2030 Agenda is framed by notions of rule-of-law and the TAP principles of transparency, accountability, and citizen participation, as well as respect for human rights. Effective governance in a 2030 Agenda world requires transparent, participatory and inclusive institutions that are accountable to the very people that the 2030 Agenda intends to engage.

The TAP Network is united in the belief that open, inclusive, accountable and effective governance is both an outcome and an enabler of sustainable and equitable development. The 2030 Agenda framework must promote openness, accountability and effective public institutions, build trust between states and its citizens, and empower civil society to engage in the design, implementation and accountability of public policies, at all levels.

TAP’s work also reflects the will and impetus of the millions of citizens from around the world who voted for ‘an honest and responsive government’ as one of their top priorities in the My World survey – a theme echoed in consultations with people around the world.

Objectives:

To ensure that the TAP principles and inclusive governance underpin the 2030 Agenda, the TAP Network works towards the following objectives:

  • Provide a platform for collaboration between CSOs to mobilize around various TAP issues, working together to produce common positions and statements, and undertake joint advocacy efforts around the 2030 Agenda and related processes.
  • Promote and support the development of transparent, accountable and citizen-inclusive implementation and monitoring mechanisms and processes for the 2030 Agenda framework at all levels.
  • Promote and support active and meaningful civil society engagement in implementation and monitoring mechanisms and processes for the 2030 Agenda framework at all levels.

GENERAL OVERVIEW

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is the host organization for the TAP Network, which entails accepting and managing grant funds and hosting the project staff.

The World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA) is a global non-profit organization working for a stronger and more effective United Nations. Established in 1946, we represent and coordinate a membership of over 100 United Nations Associations and their thousands of members. We work to build a better world by strengthening and improving the United Nations, through the engagement of people who share a global mindset and support international cooperation- global citizens. Our organization has offices at the United Nations in both New York and Geneva, and hosts interns in both locations. www.wfuna.org

Position Description: TAP Network Intern

TAP is currently seeking an Intern who will support the TAP Network Coordinator in the administrative management of the Network, as well as in advocacy, communications and knowledge management for the issue of transparency and accountability in the 2030 Agenda. The intern contract will run for six months.

He/she also will have general WFUNA staff duties.
He/she reports to TAP’s Coordinator
The position is based in WFUNA’s New York office.
To apply the applicant must have a valid U.S. work permit
The main responsibilities of the position will include the following:

  • Assist the TAP Network Coordinator in following all relevant UN processes related to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
    Lead TAP Network’s communications and outreach activities, including website, social media and newsletter.
  • Attend relevant meetings related to the 2030 Agenda and liaise with relevant civil society representatives, UN personnel and diplomats as needed;
  • Coordinate relevant meetings, conference calls and events for the Network, and generate agendas, minutes and any other materials needed to advance TAP coordination and advocacy
  • Support the TAP Coordinator and TAP Steering Committee in coordination of TAP Network activities and work
  • Assist in administrative duties and overall grant management for the programme

INTERN OPPORTUNITIES

  • Access to UN Headquarters in New York: conferences, events and resources
    Professional Development
  • Networking opportunities and ability to liaise with UN staff, diplomats, civil society members from around the world

REQUIREMENTS:

  • Undergraduate degree or higher
  • Applicant must be self-motivated, energetic, vigilant about staying on tasks and meeting deadlines, and willing to engage in such outreach tasks as cold calling
    Strong communications (verbal and written), and solid organizational skills are necessary
  • Experience with social media and website management (experience with WordPress is a plus)
  • Interest in international affairs, sustainable development and good governance
  • Fluency in English is required; knowledge of a foreign language is a plus
    Preference will be given to candidates who possess prior experience/knowledge
  • of the United Nations system and political processes

2016 Richard B. Alexander Award for Excellence in Environmental Studies

Since 2000 the Environmental Studies Program at OWU has awarded our best graduating seniors the Richard B. Alexander Award for Excellence in Environmental Studies, funded by alumni Richard Alexander. For 2016, we had two winners.

Since 2000 the Environmental Studies Program at OWU has awarded our best graduating seniors the Richard B. Alexander Award for Excellence in Environmental Studies, funded by alumni Richard Alexander.

For 2016, we had two winners.

Emily Webb (below, left), originally from Troy, Michigan, graduated Phi Beta Kappa with majors in Zoology and Environmental Studies. She is a member of both the The Wilson Ornithological Society and American Ornithologists’ Union. She’s all about the birds. This fall, she is beginning a PhD in Biology at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ. Her research at ASU will be with Dr. Kevin McGraw studying bird coloration.

emilywebballiefrance
Emily Webb annoying a Bright-rumped Attila (bird). Allie France wondering why she volunteered to stuff candy and stickers in dozens of reusable water bottles, to help promote OWU’s May Move Out.

Allie France (above, right) is from the Columbus, Ohio area and graduated with majors in Botany and Environmental Studies. Allie became increasingly involved with campus sustainability projects including reusable containers for the dining halls and sustainability efforts and awareness on campus. Allie actually managed to get the reusable food container program launched while off campus, on the other side of the world, in Cape Town, South Africa, during a semester abroad. Indeed, experiences with sustainability efforts in South Africa helped her to see her sustainability work at OWU from a new perspective. During her senior year on campus Allie’s work on a draft campus sustainability plan and other related projects not only made significant contributions to sustainability at OWU, but helped her shape her post-graduation plans. She is currently working, keeping an eye open for sustainability jobs, and planning to start a master’s program in sustainability and conservation.

Summer at the Philmont Scout Ranch: Luke Steffen, OWU 2016

Before starting a job this fall, Spring 2016 Geography and Theater graduate Luke Steffen spent his summer working at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

Top row, from left to right: Luke Steffen, Stuart Babcock, Ricky Yates. Bottom row, from left to right: Rachel Cordeiro, Martha Boucher.
Before starting a job this fall, Spring 2016 Geography and Theater graduate Luke Steffen spent his summer working at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

The Philmont Scout Ranch is the largest High Adventure Scout Camp in the United States of America, encompassing 214 square miles, with programs in neighboring ranches, wilderness areas, and national parks. It is located north of Cimarron, NM, near Taos, an area that encompasses cool mountain forests, desert, and prairie. It was started by Waite Phillips, a wealthy oil executive from Oklahoma who owned ranches out west. In 1938, he donated his property in New Mexico to the Boy Scouts of America, along with an office building in Oklahoma so that the Boy Scouts could rent out office space in order to pay for the maintenance of the massive property. His only conditions of the deal were that at least part of Philmont would remain a fully functional free range cattle ranch, that any member of the Phillips family would be allowed to visit at any time, and that his favorite horse would be taken care of until his death.

Philmont_Scout_Ranch_Tooth_of_Time_2004

Boy Scouts of America has kept its promises to Waite Phillips; cattle often roam in the valleys, meadows and prairies of the property and are cared for by an excellent team of wranglers. In addition to the ranch, there are many other programs at this massive camp. In Base Camp, there is the Seton Memorial Library and Boy Scout Museum, the Philmont Training Center, the ranch headquarters, and the Villa Philmonte, which was Waite Phillip’s old mansion. In the backcountry, there are camps that offer programs such as gun shooting, burro racing, old western folk crafts, rock climbing, meteorology, fishing, historical reenactment, and musical performances.


13524404_10204956808999419_5022961507994365506_nSome Camp sites are “interpretive,” meaning that they are set in a certain time in the history of the region and the staff are dressed in period clothing, portraying people from that particular time and place. For example, there is Miranda, a beaver trapping mountain man camp set in 1838 that features trap demonstrations and blackpowder rifle shooting, rich cabins, a real homestead settled by Austrian immigrants in the Edwardian era with livestock and farm chores. Cypher’s Mine is a 1912 gold mine that gives mine tours, forge demonstrations, and an evening show. Crater Lake is a logging camp set in 1915 where the campers get to climb wooden spar poles. Other sites are set in the present and focus on an activity like those described above. Scout troops on trek often hike through these backcountry camps and participate in the programs. The conservation department, meanwhile, goes back and forth between base camp and the backcountry, working to prevent pollution or overconsumption, suppress excessive erosion, control wildfires, and maintain trails. The conservation team includes roving work crews, environmental educators, two sustainability watch dogs (who keep track of Philmont’s garbology), invasive species specialists, and a GIS team. The ranch department also straddles both areas of Philmont because they care for the animals in base camp but lead the herds of beef cattle through various meadows in the backcountry.

PM17_CrookedCreekBurroThis summer, I work as a program counselor at Crooked Creek, an interpretive camp set in 1875. We are a family of three brothers, two sisters, and a family friend from Johnson County, Tennessee. We came to the New Mexico Territory in 1869 after our father, a union sympathizer during the Civil War, was killed by confederate soldiers and our mother died of tuberculosis. My coworkers and I give tours of and maintain our period correct cabin, chop and buck wood would for our stove (we do not have propane), and take care of our cow and calf, two burros, two goats, rooster, two hens and seven adolescent Rhode Island Red chickens, all in period garb! We have a poop flinging contest in the evening, where we clean out the pens, followed by a porch show where we sing mid-19th century folk songs. Because there are no roads near by, we haul our supplies in on the backs of our burros! Poop and burrows! What a summer.

In short, I highly recommend applying to work at Philmont to anyone, whether you are currently involved in the BSA or not. It is great fun  for anyone who loves working in the outdoors and will be an excellent learning opportunity for anyone with an academic interest in history, archeology, geology, theatre, music, history, geography, botany, or zoology. Apply in fall 2016 for summer of 2017!


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Bird, Bee & Bat Habitat on OWU’s Campus

In order to mitigate the loss of habitat for wildlife we have began enhancing wildlife habitat across OWU’s campus. A few species were selected in order to jump start OWU’s involvement in rehabilitating habitat area within Delaware. Bats, birds, squirrels, and solitary bees are all common area natives and were targeted to boost ecosystem productivity due to their ecological importance.

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House Wren/Carolina Chickadee house installed on April 16, 2014 during a student event sponsored by the Landscape Course Connection. It now contains a Carolina Chickadee nest.

Jayne Ackerman (OWU ’15, jjackerm@owu.edu), Blake Fajack (OWU OWU ’16, zbfajack@owu.edu) & Dick Tuttle (OWU ’73, ohtres@cs.com)

Delaware County, Ohio, home of Ohio Wesleyan, is one of the fastest growing areas in the state [1]. As the county grows, the amount of wildlife habitat is drastically decreased through fragmentation and other anthropogenic interferences. In order to mitigate the loss of habitat for wildlife we have began enhancing wildlife habitat across OWU’s campus.

A few species were selected in order to jump start OWU’s involvement in rehabilitating habitat area within Delaware. Bats, birds, squirrels, and solitary bees are all common area natives and were targeted to boost ecosystem productivity due to their ecological importance [2][3][4].

Methods and Results

Our original goal for the project was to build and place bat boxes on campus since bats are in danger from habitat loss and important for pest control [19, 2]. We expanded the project to include bird houses and bee hotels because of their ecological usefulness for seed (birds [17]) and pollen (bees [20, 21]) dispersal [3]. OWU Alumnus Dick Tuttle joined our project, suggesting we build carolina wren nesting boxes and expand the project to include squirrel dens. Squirrels are important for tree growth and forest succession [4].

Dick Tuttle guided us on the construction of the bird houses and locations to hang them. We summarized our proposed work in a proposal and contacted OWU’s Buildings and Grounds (B&G) to get formal approval for the project [5]. Our proposal included general ecological support for the habitat enhancements, plans for the shelters (sources in references section at [6][7][8][9][17]), installation procedure [10][11][17], maintenance advice [12][13][17], and location suggestions.

The squirrel dens were dropped from the project because, given their size (and the need for three adjacent boxes) there was a lack of suitable locations for them [17]. The other dwellings remained on the list as we looked forward to the building process. Carlyle Ackerman (Jayne’s father) was the lead carpenter and designer of the bat boxes and a key collaborator in the project.

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Bat box construction, October 2014.

Two bat boxes were put together with the help of Mr. Ackerman [18]. This was one of the most time consuming aspects of the project.

When B&G accepted our proposal we contacted the moderators of the Small Living Units (SLUs) on campus, suggesting the SLUs would be a good location for the shelters. Several SLUs came forward: the Tree House, the Interfaith House, and the Citizens of the World House. It was decided that the bird houses would be placed at the Interfaith House and Citizens of the World House, and the bat boxes would be placed at the Tree House. Bee hotels would be hung up along the bike path outside of the Science Center and various other locations.

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Simple Bee Hotel Construction: reused plastic soda bottles with tops removed (above).

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Fill with cut pieces of dried bamboo (above) and place in bottles (below), packed (Fall 2014) for installation in Spring of 2015.

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An event was scheduled [14] to help build additional shelters and spread awareness in hopes of interesting campus groups to maintain and develop the shelters in the long term.

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Building Carolina Wren boxes, November 2014.

The event required us to collect necessary materials, tools, and also promotion for the event with social media postings. We also presented our work in class [22]. Emily Webb, Ellen Hughes, and Cindy Hastings attended the event. At the event we built 7 bee hotels, and Dick Tuttle assisted us in building 5 bird houses.

The final step of actually mounting the shelters was planned to happen in January 2015. Fall projects, like ours, suffer from the inevitable descent into winter. Both Jayne, Blake and Dick Tuttle committed to finishing the dwellings and installing them in the spring of 2015.

Spring 2015 Efforts and Results

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Bird feeders outside of the Schimmel Conrades Science Center (above) and Chapplear Drama Center(below). The feeders are currently maintained by OWU Alumni Dick Tuttle and we would like a student organization to take over maintenance of the feeders.

The feeder stands that hold four feeders are checked daily. Oil sunflower seeds are added to the milk carton feeders. The water bottle feeders are loaded with thistle seed for American Goldfinches and House Finches.

One bottle feeder at each stand has seed ports where American Goldfinches can feed while hanging up-side-down, a maneuver that House Finches cannot duplicate.

A small suet feeder hangs from one of the milk cartons and it is used by woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees.

A new hopper feeder was installed on April 27. It can go days before feed is depleted. Three ears of corn are attempts to attract Blue Jays, a species not yet seen at the feeder stations. Crows and grackles might also feed on the corn. Also, on each end of the hopper are compartments designed to hold suet and/or slices of bread, etc.

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Carolina Wren boxes painted (above) by residents of the SLUs where the boxes will be mounted, March 2015.

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April 25, 2015: Box 3 (above) at the student observatory has one egg in its moss nest.

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April 25, 2015: Box 4 between the Hamilton-Williams Center and the
Alumni Center. It contains three Carolina Chickadee eggs.

Future of the Project

General Maintenance of Dwellings

  • All of the wildlife dwellings need general monitoring to keep an eye out for wear and tear.
  • Occasional repairs or remounting may be needed depending on the amount of weathering.

Bee Hotel Maintenance

  • The simple design of the bee hotels may not allow them to last very long but they can be easily made and replaced.

Bat Box Maintenance

  • Bat boxes are self sufficient but sometimes pests like wasps will take over while bats are not using the boxes. These types of problems may require professional services.
  • If the bat boxes are not being used after 3 summers they will need relocated.
  • The SLUs that are hosting bat boxes will be expected to keep these maintenance requirements in mind.

Carolina Wren Nestbox Maintenance

  • Nestboxes will need cleaned once a year in the summer after birds have left the house.
  • The SLUs that are hosting nestboxes will be responsible for the cleaning.

Other wildlife home ideas

  • Larger bee hotels, lady bug homes, general bug hotels [15]
  • Bee hives
  • Squirrel dens [4, 8, 11]
  • Other bird houses: bluebird nest boxes or chimney swift tower [17]
  • Wildlife brush piles [16]
  • Bird of prey nesting platform

Recommendations

  • Getting the B&G proposal done as soon as possible is the number one thing to do when working on this type of project as they took a while to get back to us. Research is very important in case B&G has any questions or your project needs more scientific support.
  • Have a back-up plan. Original plans may not work out, so be sure to always have an alternative. Don’t be afraid if it is not as good as a place to put the shelter. Even the most poorly placed shelters will help B&G get used to the idea of having them around.
  • Try to start a native garden near the shelters, or mount the shelters in close proximity to a native plant garden. This helps attract the targeted wildlife to the shelter.

References

[1] Delaware County: http://www.co.delaware.oh.us

[2] Why Bats are Important: http://www.batconservation.org/bat-houses

[3] Why Bees are Important: http://www.esa.org/ecoservices/comm/body.comm.fact.poll.html

[4] Why Squirrels are Important: http://www.rossoscoiattolo.eu/en/role-ecosystem

[5] B&G Proposal: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6uLhpiaH654OGoxV1dtMjFsZ3M/view?usp=sharing

[6] Bee Hotel Plans: http://www.opalexplorenature.org/sites/default/files/7/file/How-to-make-a-bee-hotel.pdf

[7] Carolina Wren Nest Box Plans: http://www.wholehomenews.com/blog/Carolina-Wren-Nest-Box/239

[8] Squirrel Den Plans: http://www.helpingwildlife.org/images/squirrelnestbox.pdf

[9] Bat Box Plans: http://www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife/Gardening-Tips/Build-a-Bat-House.aspx

[10] Bat Box Installation: http://www.batcon.org/pdfs/bathouses/InstallingYourBatHousebuilding.pdf

[11] Squirrel Den Installation: http://northernredsquirrels.org.uk/Red-Squirrel-Nesting-Box-Info.pdf

[12] Bat House Maintenance: http://bathouse.com/bat-house-maintenance

[13] Bird House Maintenance: http://www.birdhouses101.com/Care-Maintenance-Birdhouses.asp

[14] Facebook Event: http://www.birdhouses101.com/Care-Maintenance-Birdhouses.asp

[15] Bug Hotels: http://gardentherapy.ca/build-a-bug-hotel/

[16] Rabbit Brush Piles: http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/wm/WM0221.pdf

[17] Dick Tuttle

[18] Carlyle Ackerman

[19] Sheffield, S.R., Shaw, J.H., Heidt, G.A., McClenaghan, L.R. 1992. Guidelines for the protection of bat roosts. Journal of Mammalogy 73: 707-710.

[20] MacIvor, J.S., Cabral, J.M., Packer, L. 2014. Pollen specialization by solitary bees in an urban landscape. Urban Ecosystems, 17: 139-147.

[21] Danforth, B. Bees. Current Biology, 17,5: R156-R161.

[22] Wildlife Home Presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6uLhpiaH654ay1jYzRYSWRPT0k/view?usp=sharing

 

Fall ’15 OWU Environmental Travel Course to Costa Rica

Travel Learning Course: Geography 347: Environmental Alteration: Comparative Global Environmental Change: Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica & Delaware, Ohio. Learn how to collect environmental data in Delaware, Ohio (Fall 2015) and coastal Costa Rica (January 2016) and understand how it relates to regional and global climate and environmental change.

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Travel Learning Course: Geography 347: Environmental Alteration

Fall 2015

Focus: Comparative Global Environmental Change: Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica & Delaware, Ohio

Learn how to collect environmental data in Delaware, Ohio (Fall 2015) and coastal Costa Rica (January 2016) and understand how it relates to regional and global climate and environmental change.

Collaborate with Amy Work (OWU 2004) and her community geography organization, Geoporter, in Bahia Ballena-Uvita. Work with local citizens in a developing ecotourism region

Data: Weather Station | Drone aerial imagery | Ecological assessment Soil moisture & temperature | Steam flow | Water quality | Whale monitoring

Visit: Arenal National Park | Bahia Ballena-Uvita | Eco Surfing | Whale Conservation | Mangrove Conservation | Marino Ballena National Park

Contact: Dr. Nathan Amador (nsamador@owu.edu) & Dr. John Krygier (jbkrygier@owu.edu)


Students need to apply and be pre-approved for this course, prior to registration for fall 2015 courses:

  • Current Juniors and Returning Seniors April 6, 2015 (7am)
  • Current Sophomores April 9, 2015 (7am)
  • Current Freshmen April 13, 2015 (7am)

Details

Global environmental change is among the most important global issues of the next century and central to Geography 347: Environmental Alteration, a core course in Geography and Environmental Studies. The primary objective of Environmental Alteration is to explore the relationship between human and environmental systems from local to global scales. In order to grasp the importance of global environmental change, students need to 1) Understand the importance of scale to differentiate behaviors that modify the landscape (i.e., an individual throwing trash versus tropical deforestation) and their impacts (i.e., local stream pollution versus variability in large-scale precipitation patterns); 2) Understand and practice data collection methods, data analysis and presentation of findings; 3) Understand how research outcomes can affect local, positive changes addressing negative local and global environmental degradation; and 4) Understand the differential impacts of global environmental change by comparing various, worldwide locations, including differences between the Global South (e.g., Costa Rica) and Global North (e.g., the U.S.). The travel component proposed for Geography 347 allows students to effectively engage in all four of these course learning outcomes, building on our Sustainability Region model in Delaware, Ohio and extending it to collaborative work in Costa Rica. The course meets for 3 hours (regular course) + 2 hours (enrichment experience) per week.

The Travel Component:

Drs. Amador and Krygier and students in Geography 347 will travel to and conduct collaborative research in the region around Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica.

View larger map

Students and faculty in our course will be working, before, during and after our travel, with Geoporter, a non-governmental organization (NGO) located in Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Amy Work, a 2004 OWU Geography Major, manages Geoporter. CR201308_329xAmy is well known to members of the Geology & Geography program, has a background in geospatial and environmental education, and provides us with a unique opportunity to develop a long-term collaborative project between her organization and OWU, with the potential for repeated future visits by different courses and faculty. As residents of a costal area in transition from a fishing economy to one based on ecotourism, community members in Bahia Ballena-Uvita are interested in understanding their natural environment and the potential impacts of global environmental change: they share many of the same goals as the Environmental Alteration course. Amy has been working with community members to collect and map environmental information for over several years, providing a solid basis in practice. Geography 347 students will also learn the practice of data collection and mapping (as part of the enrichment component of the course), but also, importantly, develop an understanding of the theories and concepts required to analyze and understand collected data. Theories and concepts will be put into practice in Costa Rica, the collaboration designed so students and community members in Bahia Ballena-Uvita will come to understand both the theory and practice of environmental change at a range of scales.

A fundamental focus of any discussion of human modification of the environment is recognition that the planet is composed of various, dynamically different climate regimes and biomes. A perfect case study is the comparison between environmental alteration and its effects in mid-latitudinal, continental Delaware, Ohio and coastal, tropical Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica. Comparison between these two sites will allow us to observe (via various data collection sources) local and global-scale climate impacts on precipitation patterns, temperature variability, and sea level rise. The tropics represent the world’s most biodiverse regions, with Costa Rica accounting for 4% of the world’s known species (~500,000). The region is characterized by a warm, tropical climate and distinct wet and dry seasons. As a result of local and large-scale modification of the environment, the tropics are extremely sensitive to perturbations in the climate system, which generate an amplified response, making it vital to understanding the direct relationships between the human and environmental systems in the tropics.

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Bahia Ballena-Uvita, on the Pacific Coast, borders Ballena Marine Park, which protects migrating humpback (and other species) of whales. Some of the best-preserved coral reefs in Costa Rica are a short boat ride away at Caño Island Biological Reserve. The coastal mountain chain forms the Path of the Tapir, a vital link in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Nearby are indigenous reserves of the Terraba and Boruca people, and artifacts of their ancestors can be found close to the delta of the Terraba-Sierpe mangroves and wetlands, a protected, internationally recognized site. A little further south, near the town of Golfito, is a tropical fjord called the Golfo Dulce (1 of 4 tropical fjords in the world) with pods of dolphins sometimes numbering in the hundreds.

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Specifically, in the Environmental Alteration course, students and Drs. Amador and Krygier will collaborate with Geoporter and its allied community members to collect environmental data on water quality and stream characteristics, temperature, and rainfall. Additional weather variables will be collected by Dr. Amador’s professional weather station (which will be used in both locations). We will acquire an array of various open source (e.g., free) geospatial data sets, including digital maps, remote sensing (satellite and at-site drone reconnaissance with Geology & Geography’s imaging drone) to monitor environmental conditions (such as meteorological and land use/land cover). These primary data sets will allow the students to assess the impacts of human behavior on the local environment, and to generate suggestions for local-scale changes and mitigation.

Impact of the Travel Component of Geography 347

Amy Work (OWU 2004) and Geoporter have over five years of experience and engagement with Bahia Ballena-Uvita and other regional communities, collecting and analyzing data and affecting community change with a focus on the environment. Before, during and after the course visit to Costa Rica, Drs. Amador and Krygier, Amy Work, students and community members will develop an expanded program of data collection and analysis, focused on the local impacts of global environmental change (with a focus on the locations in Ohio and Costa Rica). wide-1000-1-dsc0233This expanded program meets the needs of both Geography 347 and community and Geoporter needs in Costa Rica. Bahia Ballena-Uvita provides an excellent opportunity for travel and engagement, given the rich ecosystem, economic importance of the environment for the future of the community, relevance to the study of local impacts on environmental change, and substantive connections (through Amy Work and Geoporter). Collaboration between participants in Costa Rica and OWU will occur through online, cloud-based GIS software, before, during, and after the travel. Each student will develop a focused course project that will reflect the four course objectives (outlined above). As a result of the students’ travel-learning experience, they will represent the University’s mission by applying course theory to a real-world problem, understanding the importance of citizenship and their ability to contribute to a global society.

Additional Experiences for Students in the Travel Learning Component of the Course:

Several themes will be covered in the Environmental Alterations course for all students, including how humans impact the hydrologic cycle and the global energy balance. Throughout the course, we will assess how humans are involved in altering the local environment (in Delaware, Ohio) with a focus on local data collection here at “home.” Methods learned in Delaware serve as training for data collection in Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica, where students will share what they know and co-collect data with community members. wide-1000-5-dsc0209Amy Work and Bahia Ballena-Uvita community members will collect some environmental data before the course visit. Before, during and after the visit to Costa Rica, the students will do comparative analysis of the two study sites, using the available data (collected prior, and during the visits). We hypothesize that this approach will allow students to more clearly understand the differential environmental impacts of global climate change and the distinct difference in the response to global environmental change in the Global North and Global South. We believe that some of the students who travel to Costa Rica will wish to continue work on the project, in independent study projects.

The .25 credit enrichment experience will focus on learning the techniques and methods of environmental data collection, mapping and analysis required for the Costa Rica experience but also for the broader goal of comparing and understanding the effects of global environmental change. It is feasible to teach these techniques to a class of 12, but not 35-40 (the typical enrollment of Geography 347). We will, as part of the enrichment experience, investigate how local ecosystems (such as streams) are impacted by humans, by collecting in-situ data, both in Delaware, Ohio (and later in Bahia Ballena-Uvita) on water quality, stream discharge, and stream pollution (due to surface runoff and trash infiltration). Techniques of collecting weather data (temperature, precipitation, etc.) will also be covered. We will “scale up” the research questions to investigate large-scale impacts humans have on the hydrologic system by using satellite imagery to detect variability in sea surface temperature (SST; applicable to tourism and whale watching), precipitation, and air surface temperature patterns. Additionally, we will investigate the effects of large-scale land-use land-cover (LULC) change, primarily through satellite and drone-acquired imagery. Insights from the enrichment experience will be used in the regular Geography 347 course.

Instruments for collecting data will be funded by various sources, including Dr. Amador’s start-up research funds, the Department of Geology and Geography, and Ohio Wesleyan University. We are requesting funds from the Travel Learning grant for relatively inexpensive instruments and equipment that will be used during our proposed course and left with Amy Work and Geoporter to continue collaborative data collection after the visit.

  • Weather Station: Includes measurements for air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, barometric pressure, solar radiation and wind speed/direction (already acquired with Dr. Amador’s start-up funds)
  • A data logger and set of temperature and soil moisture probes (will be acquired with Dr. Amador’s start up-funds.).
  • A set of 24 thermometers ($6/each) and 24 rain gauges ($5/each), where half will be used in data collection at each site location (Delaware and Bahia Ballena-Uvita). The thermometers and rain gauges will be calibrated against the weather station data for accuracy and precision (we are requesting funds for these devices).
  • We will use a stream flowmeter ($249.95) to monitor stream velocity and changes in discharge over time. Changes in streamflow are a direct result of precipitation rates, changes in upstream surface runoff (i.e., paving roads), and can help indicate changes in erosion rates through sediment transport through the stream (we are requesting funds for this device).
  • In order to measure the water quality of nearby streams, we will use a comprehensive water quality testing kit ($398.95) and an additional refill for added samples ($112.95) for each of the two sites. The variables measured include: pH, nitrate-nitrogen, phosphate, dissolved oxygen, total alkalinity, turbidity, and temperature (we are requesting funds for this device).
  • For data notation, the data collectors will need appropriate, all-weather data notation notepads ($9/each) to record observations and notes during instrument installment and data collection periods (we are requesting funds for these items).

Together, we have collected a list of primary objectives that include data collection, analysis and problem solving, which can be accomplished between the facilitators (Drs. Amador and Krygier, and Amy Work), the community (residents of Bahia Ballena-Uvita), and the OWU students enrolled in the travel-learning course. Communication and pre-planning between the two sites (Delaware, Ohio and Bahia Ballena-Uvita, Costa Rica) will provide for a well-organized and mindful trip, which will lead to a better experience for all involved. The traditional Geography 347 course will meet Tuesday and Thursday between 1:10 – 3:00 pm, with the Travel-Learning component taking place (as a separate course) Tuesday and Thursday 3:00 – 4:00 pm.

 

 

 

 

OWU Alumni | Sarah D’Alexander (’13) | Practicing Sustainability

Sarah D’Alexander graduated from OWU in 2013 with a double major in Environmental Studies and Biology with a minor in Spanish.

She realized her interest in sustainability while participating in environmental projects at OWU. After assessing ongoing problems on campus, she began developing her own courses of action to promote greener practices.

Sarah 3Sarah D’Alexander graduated from OWU in 2013 with a double major in Environmental Studies and Biology with a minor in Spanish.

She realized her interest in sustainability while participating in environmental projects at OWU. After assessing ongoing problems on campus, she began developing her own courses of action to promote greener practices.

In 2012, Sarah created and implemented the May Move Out project, a program aiming to divert student generated waste at the spring semester student move from campus. In two years this initiative recycled over 90 tons of unwanted items such as electronics, clothing, and school supplies by donating to local charities and back to the student body. The university recently received a $10,000 grant supporting the project for 2015.

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Sarah (center) and her team celebrating AmeriCorp’s 20 Year Anniversary at the White House. President Barak Obama and former President Bill Clinton spoke to commemorate the program’s legacy.

After graduation, Sarah served as a Team Leader for AmeriCorps NCCC, a 10-month service program devoted to strengthening communities through team based service.

In 2014, Sarah worked with Habitat for Humanity in Maine to increase energy efficiency in low-income households. In addition, she also worked on sustainable farms in Martha’s Vineyard, advocated for disaster preparedness in New York City, removed invasive species in Valley Forge National Park, and helped the city of Baltimore maintain their public parks.

Sarah 1

During her time working with Habitat for Humanity—7 Rivers, Sarah and her team learned how to do home inspections to get a baseline for energy efficiency. They air sealed basements, crawl spaces, and attics so they could install insulation that improves the thermal boundaries of the home. Here, she is re-installing a bathroom fan.

Sarah is currently an apprentice at Crown Point Ecological Center, an organic farm located in Bath, Ohio. In the future, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in Sustainability Management.

CrownPoint2

“On 115-acres located in the rolling hills of Bath, Ohio, Crown Point expresses its mission through organic agriculture and educational programs that integrate four core values: Community, Justice, Spirituality and Sustainability.”


More information about Sarah and her work can be found at:

Twitter Feed: https://twitter.com/dalexands

LinkedIn Page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sarahdalexander

OWU Alumni | John Romano (’10) | Global Sustainability

John Romano, OWU ’10, Addressing the UN Open Working Group on the topic of sustainable cities, speaking on behalf of the Major Group for Children and Youth, a global constituency of young people working on sustainable development at the United Nations. “Truly sustainable development is only possible within cities if it is inclusive and representative of the needs and priorities of its people – particularly young people. Without this, our collective effort to achieve sustainable development within cities will undoubtedly fall short.” (January 2014)

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John Romano, OWU ’10, Addressing the UN Open Working Group on the topic of sustainable cities, speaking on behalf of the Major Group for Children and Youth, a global constituency of young people working on sustainable development at the United Nations. “Truly sustainable development is only possible within cities if it is inclusive and representative of the needs and priorities of its people – particularly young people. Without this, our collective effort to achieve sustainable development within cities will undoubtedly fall short.” (January 2014; source)


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John Romano graduated from OWU in 2010 with a double major in Environmental Studies and Geography.

John’s interest in sustainability and environment at Ohio Wesleyan focused on a series of projects he undertook as part of courses and independent study projects – theory-into-practice. John completed projects on LEED certification (and obtained a basic level LEED certification as a student), GeoThermal energy (focused on the Meek Aquatic Center on Campus), rainwater recycling potential on campus, Earth Day events, and he helped compile the Green Map of the OWU Campus and Delaware.

After graduation, John interned as a Sustainability Coordinator and Environmental Assessment Intern in Lakeside, Ohio. From there, he got a job as an Sustainability Advisor at a private school (Peddie School) in New Jersey, Nautica, and eventually began a master’s program in Sustainabilty Management at Columbia University. Along the way John has worked for and with a broad array of sustainability organizations, including:

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More information on John and his work can be found at: