Freshwater resources are central to the cultural identity and future of the Yahara Watershed. Our outreach and education program builds on the widely acknowledged importance of water to the long-term vitality of the region and is supported by the foundation of our research. This program includes an innovative set of outreach and education activities designed to reach diverse stakeholders, including residents of the Yahara Watershed and citizens of Wisconsin; undergraduate and graduate students at UW-Madison and Edgewood College; and policy makers at local, state, national and international levels.
We have developed an interpretive “Water Walk” along the shore of Lake Mendota on the UW-Madison campus (along the well-used Lakeshore Path), and a virtual online “Water Walk” in collaboration with the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Interpretive signs along the Water Walk will consist of ~10 stations where the science issues confronting the watershed will be explained through pictures and text. A handout and map of the walk will be available online. 7 short videos, developed by Brianna Laube may be watched online or downloaded to your smart phone and taken along on a walk at Lakeshore Path
For formal educational activities geared specifically for K-12 students, we are partnering with the existing programs operating through the North Temperate Lakes Long-term Ecological Research Site (NTL-LTER) and the Center for Biology Education (CBE) at UW-Madison. NTL-LTER has a long history of effective educational outreach programs, and the findings and activities of our work is feeding directly into these activities. Research and methods have been developed and tested for K-12 students, middle and high school science teachers, and for undergraduate introductory biology and ecology courses.
Our Integrated Scenarios involve both research and outreach. Activities include workshops and forums designed to discuss water issues in the Yahara Watershed and solicit input from a wide range of stakeholders, as well as a Scenarios Advisory Group comprised of diverse stakeholders. We are also working closely with the developing Yahara Lakes Legacy Partnership, which includes a number of grassroots groups such as Clean Wisconsin, Gathering Waters, and the Clean Lakes Alliance, and is building linkages to the business community, agricultural sector, and other non-profits and NGOs.
We are working with the staff of Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) to produce programming focused on sustainability of water resources in the Yahara Lakes Watershed. WPT is currently developing a pilot project focused on environmental sciences. This program is called “Quest,” and it is modeled after an NSF-funded program at KQED in San Francisco. We are also seeking additional media-based outlets for science outreach, including short segments such as Office Hours on the Big10 Network.
Through our collaboration with Jim Lorman at nearby Edgewood College, we are contributing to Edgewood’s Sustainability Leadership Graduate Certificate Program, a new 1-yr program that began in August 2010. Edgewood College is a liberal arts college located in Madison on the shore of Lake Wingra. The new certificate program emphasizes three aspects of sustainability: environmental quality, social justice, and economic vitality. Students address real-world issues and build a network of relationships with program colleagues, mentors, community leaders, and faculty experts in sustainability. Thus, our research aligns very well with the certificate program. The Edgewood students will also participate in our summer field research experiences as part of the program.