Inspiring The Next Generation

By Elisa Dawson

Along a beautiful stretch of the Rogue River is the River’s namesake, the City of Rogue River. The river is a predominant feature of the city, and you can see how people here value the Rogue River though the murals which feature it, the fisherman on the river, and the way residents speak of the river. For me, the River was the driving force in my move here. I love water in all forms, and if I had to choose a favorite river it would be the Rogue.

As luck would have it, the RARE AmeriCorps position I served in enables me to work directly in areas of water quality through helping the City of Rogue River meet their Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) requirements. A TMDL permit is issued to cities by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. TMDL permits establish water quality standards and establishes the maximum amount of an impairing substance that a waterbody can assimilate to. Part of this permit is not only about controlling pollution, but also requires Cities to perform outreach and education around water and water quality within their communities.

Upon arriving in Rogue River, it was part of my charge to establish and effectuate some of these outreach and education activities. One partnership I created was with the local Elementary School. I was able to meRiparian Workshop Flyer 8x11et with two fifth grade teachers who were interested in having their students participate in a project with the City. Through our meeting, we came up with having the students work on a water quality project on their school grounds. We partnered with a kindergarten teacher who had recently acquired funds to build a Monarch Butterfly Wayfinding Station and began brainstorming ways to turn this Monarch Butterfly Wayfinding Station into an outdoor classroom, incorporating water conservation and water quality techniques into the Monarch Butterfly Wayfinding Station project.

The 5th graders worked through several educational classes related to water quality. One session included having the students make a “Recipe for Healthy Soil” where they learned about what percentages of sand, silt, clay, air, and water make a soil ideal. The students also calculated how much water would run off of their school roof in a 1 inch rainstorm. For their final project, all of the 5th graders from the two classes at Rogue River Elementary got their hands dirty and  participated in planting over 100 native plants at the Fleming Park Riparian Demonstration and Learning Site, as part of a project I was able to secure grant funds for as a RARE AmeriCorps participant in Rogue River.

Education and outreach can sometimes feel like a daunting task with a project, and can often lead to question like “where should I start?” Creating partnerships is key to this process. In Rogue River, by cold calling a few teachers I was able to create a yearlong project for students to be involved in. It has been a highlight of my service for me to be able to teach these young citizens about water quality, and about what their city is doing to try to protect water quality. For most of them, this is their first opportunity to participate directly in local government. My goal is to help the students feel enabled to participate in local government in their future, and even inspire them to become environmental stewards in the process.

Elisa Dawson

Elisa received her bachelor’s degree in both Geography and in Community, Environment, and Planning with a minor in Global Health from the University of Washington. As a student, Elisa worked with the King County Department of Parks and Natural Resources in Seattle, WA, where she worked to support outreach and communication on natural resources and King County programs to diverse communities. After attaining her bachelor’s degree, Elisa served in AmeriCorps at Purgatoire Watershed Partnership in Trinidad, CO, where she designed and executed resource planning and public engagement documents such as the Purgatoire River Watershed Plan, the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, and the City of Trinidad Source Water Protection Plan.  Elisa spent a second year of service with the City of Rogue River via the RARE AmeriCorps Program where she conducted long range land use planning projects and assisted with public works water quality projects.  Elisa recently accepted a job as a Planner for Snohomish County Surface Water Management in Washington State where she is working with the Shellfish Protection program and the Marine Resources program, doing regional water quality studies, partnership building, and restoration work throughout the north Puget Sound.

Creating Connections for Campus Safety

By Amy Henson

The Oregon Disaster Resilient Universities Network (DRU) is a network of over 1,600 campus emergency management professionals connected through a listserv hosted by the University of Oregon. DRU is one of the partners CPW is collaborating with to develop the National Emergency Management Needs Assessment. As part of the National Needs Assessment, sponsored by the National Center for Campus Public Safety (NCCPS), we had scoped a DRU summit to explore the results of our needs assessment survey and better understand issues that campus emergency management programs face.

NCCPS TeamIn fall 2015, as a response to the tragic events at Umpqua Community College, Governor Kate Brown established a campus safety workgroup with the charge to identify resource needs and potential state policy to enable a coordinated strategy across the higher education system, both public and private institutions. Governor Brown appointed Andre Le Duc, the UO’s Chief Resilience Officer, to chair the committee. As it turns out, Le Duc is also on the board of the NCCPS.

Since our work with NCCPS included a summit and the Governor’s Workgroup was in an information gathering phase, Le Duc proposed we combine the DRU summit with the Workgroup meeting. So, in conjunction with the University of Oregon Office of Emergency Management and Continuity, we took part in the planning and facilitation of the event. We were excited to be part of the statewide campus safety effort, especially since we had been working on the national needs assessment project, and agreed to participate!

The CPW team hosted the Summit and it went GREAT! The CPW team, as well as CSC faculty, worked as facilitators through the all-day summit. Due to the abundance of facilitators, we were able to effectively register the participants, hand out nametags, direct participants to tables, and begin forming relationships with our guests for the day. After an introduction of the day and a brief background of the participating organizations by Andre Le Duc, the agenda really got started.

We assigned participants to tables with practitioners from other departments and other schools. We did this to engage conversations that may not occur in their regular professional setting. In order to ensure that participants were engaged in the process, the facilitators sat at each table and started with some brainstorming questions before probing into more detail. It was also valuable to keep the tables the same through the day; each table had a sense of camaraderie with those who they sat next to. We also provided a very loose schedule with breaks and a full hour lunch which allowed fDRU Oregon Summitor casual conversation and networking. We  scheduled a burrito bar for lunch, to ensure positive attitudes would continue through the afternoon.

The day began with a presentation of the preliminary findings from a national needs assessment survey administered by our CPW team. In analyzing the findings, the team grouped the needs into four theme areas: institutional commitment, staffing, training & exercises, and plans & continuity. We used these themes throughout the day and through facilitated conversation were able to parse out the needs that all of Oregon’s campuses have, regardless of size, popular majors, or whether they are public or private. After the CPW team presented, we then welcomed speakers on the topics of preparedness, continuity, response, and recovery.

After each speaker, the participants took part in table discussions, facilitated by CSC/CPW team. Each participant received a worksheet to fill out, providing the opportunity to share thoughts in various manners. We wanted to ensure that no matter how people chose to express themselves, we would be able to cater to those styles. The facilitators allowed the table groups to discuss the various components of need in their universities, and stepped in only when the conversation drifted too far from the original topic, or if participants struggled to find the “jumping off” point of the conversation.

While there were some things I would definitely change in the day (it was seven hours, the conversations got a little redundant at the end, etc.), but overall, it was great day. The conversations that occurred and the relationships that were forged could not have been any better. I think that if we can continue to build on this work, Oregon and her students will have a safer and more prepared future. I look forward to continuing working with the work group through the rest of the summer.

Amy Henson
Amanda (Amy) Henson is a second year Master’s of Public Administration student, focusing in higher education administration and policy. She enjoys hot coffee, cold ice cream, and spontaneous weekend adventures.