The National Science Foundation has awarded a $92,000 grant to Cabrini College to support the project, "Collaborative Research-Watershed Citizenship Learning Community."
The two-year grant—which begins in Feb. 2009—will be used for course development, supplies and equipment supporting two courses ("Watershed Ecology" and "Watershed Citizenship"); the students in these courses will make up the Learning Community. Working with the Stroud Water Research Center in Avondale, Pa., students will conduct stream experiments, including innovative DNA barcoding studies, and more traditional stream chemistry studies in "Watershed Ecology."
In "Watershed Citizenship," students will gain an appreciation of the psychology of environmental choices people make and work with community members on best practices in storm water management.
The project, which builds on the Crabby Creek Stream Monitoring Project, is directed by Cabrini faculty members Dr. David Dunbar, associate professor of biology; Dr. Melissa Terlecki, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. Caroline Nielsen, assistant professor of biology; and Dr. Susan Gill, education director of the Stroud Water Research Center. The Crabby Creek project began in 2007 with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. Crabby Creek is a tributary of Valley Creek, and runs through Tredyffrin Township.
"By integrating these students into a community of citizen scientists," said Dr. Dunbar, "we expect to engender a sustainable interest in local and global environmental issues, specifically those related to water. We will also stress the complex nature that the solution of environmental issues demands."
Students will work with the Valley Creek Restoration Partnership in creating environmental educational packets. Students will be involved in Crabby Creek Earth Day events sponsored by Cabrini College and the Restoration Partnership in Chester County, and invite the Crabby Creek community to collaborate with them on work on the watershed project.
The stream monitoring project began in 2007 with funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Crabby Creek project has provided opportunities for environmental studies and research for students majoring in biology and psychology, while education students have used the project to provide environmental science outreach for K-12 students in local school districts during the College's Science on Saturday programs.
Representatives from the Stroud Water Research Center will teach parts of both courses. Stroud is an innovative institute that educates citizens on watershed issues and ways homeowners can improve local watershed quality by practicing watershed principles.