We are thrilled to announce that interested faculty from Stark County’s five major colleges and universities, along with informal education partners, have quietly begun working together on environmental issues in Stark County.
The academic institutions include Kent State University at Stark, Malone University, University of Mount Union, Stark State College and Walsh University. Informal education partners include Beech Creek Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve, Brumbaugh, McKinley Museum, the Ohio State University Extension and Stark Parks.
These are in addition to government, foundation and community partners already connected with campus and community projects.
Watch for more news as this consortium takes shape!
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As we first articulated the goals of OurWaterWebs, we said our partnerships are to improve communication among the key parties while also improving how we communicate with and educate the general public about their water resources.
- Within Kent State University: Connect with the Kent State University legislative liaison and the state and federal internship programs, the Columbus Program in Intergovernmental Issues and the Washington Program in National Issues. These contacts would help us partner with legislators at various levels to educate about watershed issues and implement change, as well as enable students to gain firsthand experience with policy development, a necessary component of civil engagement education.
- With other local colleges, universities and public and private schools: As mentioned above, we’re beginning to link with other local academic institutions with expertise and interest in areas that are important to this project. As we identify more, we’ll find ways to link them to the project.
- Watershed Associations: Many watersheds have associations, that is, groups of people actively involved in protecting them and educating others about them. Members include concerned citizens, elected government representatives and government agency representatives, business groups, homeowners and builders associations, and health department representatives. It is clearly necessary and important to link with these groups. Our local Nimishillen Creek Watershed Partners now have their next regular meetings at our campus, and from them we have learned there are a number of ways we can partner to help one another.
- Other state institutions and watershed research groups: Ohio University (Athens, OH) and The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) both have active watershed research groups (The Appalachian Watershed Research Group and the Ohio Extension Watershed Team, respectively). Yet few citizens are aware of them. We would like to meet with both groups to discuss their work and ways we might work together to improve communication with the public and public understanding of watersheds.
Government representatives and entities:
- Many national and state representatives are active in water issues. As mentioned earlier, we would like to work with the Kent State government programs to learn more about this and then include this as part of our network.
The Appalachian Watershed Research Group at Ohio University (see above) is part of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. As Ohio’s former Senator and Governor, George Voinovich handled many requests related to Energy and Water Development. This included a number of Ohio requests for watershed-related projects, such as flood control (for example, in areas where building development and watersheds collide).
We would like to learn more about the involvement of elected officials in these issues and whether there are funding opportunities for our project or for our partners
- National and state agencies: Some of the few we have encountered: National Water Program; Federal and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Department of Water; the Resource Conservation and Development Councils of Ohio; Ohio Green Pathways program; agencies in other states (e.g. Pennsylvania has a very active watershed education movement). Again, we would like to find ways to allow our network of partners, including local citizens, to know about these resources and work with them.
- County and local agencies: We now have links with the Stark Parks, the Stark County Soil and Water Conservation District and various Drinking Water and Sewage Treatment Facilities, all of whom work directly with water resource issues in our area.
CLEAN and GLISTEN: Collaborative Learning for Environmental Action Network and Great Lakes Innovative Stewardship through Education Network; affiliated with the Western Reserve Resource Conservation and Development Council; primarily focused on the Great Lakes water resource. These major projects can provide expertise in an education model and water resource information for our watershed project.