Friday, September 30, 2011

River Leadership Curriculum Update

Week 3

This week brought River Science into the classroom. Mike Ekberg from the Miami Conservancy District spoke to the students about Dayton’s greatest assets including our aquifer, watershed, and rivers. Mike provided the students with analogies to help them understand how these systems work. Next, Dr. Jeff Kavanaugh of UD’s Biology Department spoke to the students about water quality, how to test it, as well as a case study of the Chicago River. These topics coincided with the readings the students completed on ecology of rivers, regulatory biology, the Clean Water Act, Biological Criteria, and water resources of Montgomery County. These two presentations were a great introduction to things the students saw on their Saturday field trip where they kayaked down the Mad River, and tested the water quality by sampling macroinvertebrates and fish shocking. Tying this information together, we asked the students to tell us about their hometown watersheds. Led by Sr. Leanne Jablosnki FMI, the class discussed what they already knew about their hometown watersheds. The students were then challenged to do further research on any unique characteristics or problems their watershed may have. We wanted the students to think back to ways that they may have identified with their watershed in the past and how it may be similar or different to Dayton’s watershed. After the paddle on Saturday many students made connections between their hometown watershed and things they saw on the paddle.

Week 4

This week built on the students’ knowledge of Dayton and its watershed. Dr. Sarah Hippensteel Hall of the Miami Conservancy District and Greater Dayton Partners for the Environment spoke to the students about human impact on watersheds. She concentrated on the issues that the Dayton region faces. This presentation helped many of the students begin to think about possible project proposals. Next, Felicia Graham of the City of Dayton’s Water Department spoke to the students about how the city manages water. Her colleagues also brought a truck and other equipment that they use to inspect pipes throughout the city. This class gave the students a great explanation of how professionals manage and protect the water that we use but also what people individually can do to protect our water resources. Introducing these ideas benefited the field trip as the students were able to see outfalls from water treatment plants.

Below are pictures from the Saturday Field Trip.

Monday, September 19, 2011

UD Students Focus on the River as Art

Click here to view the full posting on Dayton MostMetro website!

There’s a lot that I like about the Activated Spaces program happening downtown. There’s the obvious – Art in empty storefronts makes downtown look more welcoming and friendly. There’s the more artsy – It’s a chance to see the diverse skills and cool work from some of our talented local artists.

But there’s something more – Especially this round, which invited the artists to highlight favorite neighborhoods or community assets, I got to see Dayton through the eyes of the artists and I got 15 new perspectives on what’s important in our region. Here at we talk a lot about all the good stuff happening in the community, so I wasn’t surprised to see people lovin’ on their neighborhoods and gardens and people and parks. But what drew my attention (for this article at least) is what did surprise me. And that’s Dayton getting some love from some UD students. Too often we talk about how UD is in a bubble, but this round of Activated Spaces features a great group of UD students who are engaged in our region through volunteerism, sustainability, and now – art.

So, since they’re giving Dayton some love, I say we send it right back and give some attention to what these UD students are doing for our community, for the river, and for Activated Spaces.
Artists Susan Byrnes and Dennie Eagleson worked with a group of students – “River Stewards” from the University of Dayton Rivers Institute – to photograph a variety of images during the Institute’s annual two-day trip through Dayton. These picture spotlight the river system that the group believes “helps us define our sense of place” in the community. Highlighting the area between Island Metropark and the Steward Street Bridge, with a focus on the bridges themselves, this installation offers a unique perspective of Dayton by presenting views of the bridges from the viewpoint of a kayak in the river and from along the bicycle path.
Eagleson is the Artist-in-Residence for the River Stewards; last year they created a sound installation and the students discussed what they saw and how they experienced the river. This year, Eagleson wanted to focus on something more tangible and structural as they experienced the river through a visual art project.

About 10 students shared six cameras on the trip; each student was assigned a specific bridge to feature, but additionally they had a great time snapping away and documenting the experience. The group used a plastic lens camera which allows for a narrow area of focus and it becomes fuzzy or darker as it moves to the edges. Each bridge is represented in a composite; some camera glare, the use of photos from both up close and far away, and the overlapping pictures as they’re framed hint at the experience of enjoying the bridges just as much as a visual representation of the structure.

Byrnes discussed the beauty of the bridges through the corridor and how the trip allowed the students to see them from a unique perspective. She says, “It was interesting for us to see the difference between the old and new bridges and understand the details that got translated from the old bridges.” Eagleson adds, “When you drive over a bridge, you don’t know what the true structure is. The bridges in Dayton are so beautiful, we really enjoyed seeing the shapes and how the bridges are made.”

You too can enjoy the structures and the experience of Dayton’s bridges – stop by the River Stewards’ display at the Main Street Garage. Officially launching on Urban Nights. And be sure to visit the many other displays that represent Dayton’s assets through the eyes of Dayton’s artists.

More info at Activated Spaces or on Facebook.

About the River StewardsFrom the University of Dayton Web site: The Rivers Institute administered by the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community at the University of Dayton is an initiative to bring key partners in Dayton and surrounding communities together to promote our watershed while preserving and protecting its resources. Students, faculty and staff from the University are working with community members, stakeholders, and local organizations to build community around our rivers. The Rivers Institute’s work focuses on promoting learning and undergraduate research, bringing UD to the river, and bringing Dayton to the river.

About Susan ByrnesSusan Byrnes is an artist, art administrator, and art educator. She holds a BFA in photography from Syracuse University, and an MFA in sculpture from Eastern Michigan University. She exhibits sculpture, installation, and performance work nationally. Susan also produces arts-based broadcasts for college radio, and produces sonic art and audio stories. Born in Rome, NY, she resides in Dayton, OH and serves as director of ArtStreet, a multi-arts learning facility at the University of Dayton.

About Dennie EaglesonDennie Eagleson is a documentary and fine art photographer and educator. She was an Associate Professor of Photography at Antioch College until it closed in 2008. Since then, she has taught photography and documentary studies at The Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute in Yellow Springs, and at the University of Dayton as an Artist in Residence in the fall of 2009. Her fine art work has focused on place and artifacts of people’s lives, using alternative imaging tools such as pinhole and plastic lens cameras. Eagleson’s documentary work has investigated alternative families, life and culture in Cuba and Nicaragua, local and sustainable agriculture, and art and music as a empowerment tool in community building. Eagleson recently developed skills in radio production as a Community Voices Trainee. Her piece on a writing program in the Springfield, Ohio Youth Detention center was aired as a part of Film Dayton’s Screenless Screening program.

River Stewards featured in University of Dayton Magazine

Last summer the River Stewards spent time with the staff of the University of Dayton Magazine, while they collected information and gained first hand experiences for the article in this Fall's edition. Click here to view article.

A river runs through it.
by Michelle Tedford

“The river changes every day. Some days, you love it. Others, you’re just frustrated by it.”
And on this sunny July day, senior Bethany Renner says she is loving it. The sky is blue and the Mad River, an artery winding through East Dayton toward downtown, gurgles over rocky riffles at a pace easy enough to be navigated by the novices of the group she’s leading.
Renner, blond hair in a tight ponytail, knifes her kayak through the water. She alerts boaters to a water hazard ahead, an old bridge piling. More students are teaching in other disciplines, pointing out a blue heron the boaters keep scaring downstream (biology), the clarity of the water (geology), the factories operating alongside (economy) and an outflow pipe that drains stormwater and whatever else eastside residents dump down the storm grate (public policy).
This summer, the River Stewards of the University of Dayton’s Rivers Institute taught nearly 200 paddlers — professors and students, mayors and council members, artists and engineers — in their floating classroom, just one way the students are fulfilling their promise of bringing Dayton to the river.
Senior Alex Galluzzo is paddling sweep on the trip and talking a nautical mile a minute. “My first job is to be sure everyone gets safely down the river,” he says. “Then I’m going to throw a big blanket of information on you, and if you can crawl out with one or two facts, I’m good with that.”
What started as a river trip with two dozen honors students in 2004 has grown into a sea change emanating from the University’s Fitz Center for Leadership in Community. The Rivers Institute’s staff, community partners, faculty and committed students can now be found at the table of every major regional discussion regarding water and its connection to economic vitality, quality of life and environmental integrity. Some point to these River Stewards as the catalyst for the regional water discussions of the last five years. All agree that these students and their ideas are changing the landscape and contributing to a national and local refocus on water resources.

“The greatest thing I’ve found is that adults are listening to 21-year-olds, and what I say matters.”
Laura Mustee sits on a porch swing on Stonemill Avenue, hair in a ponytail, arms hugging knees to her pink T-shirt, looking every bit a college senior. But the life she describes is something quite unexpected. Since her sophomore year, she’s been part of a 16-member cohort of River Stewards. Members commit to three years of river education, experience and action in addition to their major areas of study.
For Mustee, that’s marketing. But she adds biology, sociology, ecology and economics to the list of what she’s learning, some from faculty and community partners, much from the other River Stewards who represent 27 majors in the interdisciplinary program that is more intense than a club, more amorphous than a major. River Stewards choose each new cohort by application and interview process. The sophomores commit to three years of Friday afternoon classes and service and civic engagement opportunities. They work with their cohort on a senior project. They constantly create new ways to accomplish the Rivers Institute’s mission of helping the Dayton community to see its rivers as a strategic natural resource central to the communal, economic, aesthetic and ecological vitality of the region.
The program stretches students and their leadership potential, and Mustee and others have proven themselves skillful in discussions of public policy, science, economic development and quality of life.
The Dayton Development Coalition is the region’s economic development engine. In 2008, DDC began focusing attention on water as an economic resource. Then the River Stewards got involved — first as guest presenters, then as seated members of the Dayton Water Roundtable — and the conversation evolved to embrace quality of life, environmental stewardship and retention of a young creative class. Maureen Patterson, vice president of stakeholder relations at DDC, calls the River Stewards “visionary.”
“They all speak about the water. They are so excited by it and that inspires the people sitting there,” Patterson says. The stewards’ voices have allowed DDC to better sell the region, she says, by growing educational curricula, pushing technology and innovation, and marketing quality of life.
River Stewards sit on the city of Dayton environmental advisory board. They have presented at the Midwest Ground Water Conference, the Water Management Association of Ohio’s annual meeting and at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. A steward led a presentation to the DP&L Foundation that netted a $250,000 educational grant. Senior AJ Ferguson coordinates the new Ohio’s Great Corridor Association, which brings together governments, businesses and community organizations to promote the Great Miami River watershed.
In the June OGCA meeting, Ferguson took notes and allowed participants to explore ideas — more than 100 he wrote on easel sheets that he taped around the room — to find common threads before he offered careful words of analysis.
That may be the best part of being a steward, he says — being part of the dynamic conversation. “What I get most excited about being in a roomful of mayors and city managers is that I get to test where I am in the quality of the ideas I offer.”
The best example of the Rivers Institute’s collaborative power is the annual River Summit, begun in 2008 and held on UD’s campus. Last spring, it attracted more than 200 of Ohio’s leaders to sessions on recreation, tourism, watershed protection and how nonprofits and governments can work together to garner grant money for river restoration and recreation projects.
UD is the reason the River Summit works, says Amy Dingle, outdoor recreational coordinator for Five Rivers MetroParks, the region’s conservation and recreation organization. She says the University of Dayton, with a reputation for seeking the common good, is the neutral player that can bring together competing interests to understand how our ultimate goals are connected.
In the Great Miami River watershed, those connections extend like the fingers of its tributaries.
Twenty-seven miles upriver from UD is the city of Troy. In 2009, Mayor Mike Beamish welcomed River Stewards who paddled for five days from the headwaters near Indian Lake to Taylorsville Dam north of Dayton as part of their senior project. In Troy they learned about the city’s long connection with the Great Miami River, about its investment in Treasure Island as a family recreation destination and more.
Stan Kegely, Troy’s project manager, is an advocate for the River Summit and for the mission the students espouse. “A stronger river corridor is a stronger Troy,” he says. “A stronger Dayton and a stronger Miamisburg is a stronger Troy. Regionally, when we all grow, we all benefit from one another’s achievements.”
This collaborative mindset is a far cry from the competitive rhetoric once dominant in the region, and Kegley points to the River Stewards as a reason.
Dayton city commissioner Nan Whaley ’98 agrees. “They’ve been the catalyst in the region around water issues. If they hadn’t done the River Summit and didn’t show the excitement and take the leadership role, you wouldn’t see the OGCA, you wouldn’t see the (downtown Dayton) plan. They’ve been the catalyst.”

“My friend picked me up from the airport, and the first place I went to was RiverScape (in downtown Dayton) so I could see my river.”
Katie Norris ’10 is now surrounded by waters — geographically, encircled by the Stillwater and Penobscot rivers at the University of Maine in Orono, and academically, as a graduate student studying the impact of native migrating fish called alewives on the local ecology. Her research takes her wading through cold streams and canoeing in lakes that are the alewives’ breeding grounds. But she has never felt more connected than she did as a River Steward in Dayton.
“I’ve always loved nature,” she says. “The Rivers Institute solidified that for me and showed me how to make the connection between my love for ecology and water and the rivers with community and the social piece.”
And the river she so loves is different from the one known by UD alumni from a decade or more ago. During the last 40 years, organizations like the Miami Conservancy District have been working with farmers, factories and municipalities to improve the quality of the water.
Fish kills of 40 years ago are replaced with fishermen who catch prize-sized smallmouth bass in the shadow of the Monument Street bridge. For $6 a half hour, you can rent a kayak on a lazy Saturday afternoon and paddle where the Great Miami River and Mad River merge in the spray of six giant fountains. More than 40 miles of paved pathways along the river corridor connect to 300 more that wind through farmland and prairie, tying Piqua and Urbana to the north through Dayton and Xenia to Cincinnati in the south. Bicyclists share pathways with joggers, dog-walkers, lunchtime exercisers and young families with toddlers muddy from chasing geese. Five Rivers MetroParks’ RiverScape — with its three blocks of gardens, fountains, four-seasons pavilion and bicycle hub — draws all walks of people downtown, including UD students like Norris.
It’s also a river much more accessible to current students thanks to the Rivers Institute. The 2011 cohort, the second to graduate from the program, organized bus trips to introduce University students to recreational amenities and other features of a livable city. The 2012 cohort is helping to begin a bikeshare program; UD students can check out a bike as easily as a basketball and pedal the spur along Stewart Street to connect to the Great Miami River Trail and the city or countryside beyond.
And all stewards are ambassadors. Senior Jenny Biette took her boyfriend and friends to RiverScape on the Fourth of July. As they sat near the levees built to protect citizens after the 1913 flood, the visual communication design major spoke of the glacier 18,000 years ago that deposited the gravel that naturally filters Dayton’s drinking water, making it some of the best in the world.
“It sort of surprises people about how special Dayton is,” she says. “They came to the school (UD) because they know it’s special, but in Dayton you always run into something new and exciting. The River Stewards have helped to cement us to this city.”
In the Rivers Institute, students become part of the story — and part of the community. As an arm of the Fitz Center, the Rivers Institute educates leaders who build community. Cincinnati native Norris took with her to Maine that need to feel connected to place. She sought out a community of learners and a community of recreational enthusiasts. She also is making sure her scientific research is relevant to people and their concerns — the impact of repatriated fish populations to property values, tourism and fishing. These are values she says she will carry with her always, no matter the name of the river along which she lives.

“If we want more students to be civically engaged, we need more hooks.”
For AJ Ferguson, that hook was kayaking. What better way to entice a student than the opportunity to kayak the rivers, bike the pathways and hike the trails? River Stewards talk of this and more when recruiting the next cohort of students, who vie for the 15 or so positions available each year. For fall 2011, 35 applied — for the fun, the intensity and the commitment that will consume most of their formerly free time.
And once they are hooked by kayaking, the rest follows.
“There’s a city out there we want you to enjoy, and when you know it you’ll love it and you’ll want to protect it,” he says.
Ferguson was one of three students who presented at the June Marianist Universities Meeting to presidents, deans and faculty about civic engagement. Civic engagement is a hallmark of Marianist education, and the three Marianist universities (University of Dayton, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and Chaminade University of Honolulu) are always looking for ways to do it better. Ferguson believes the Rivers Institute is a perfect example.
So does his father.
Dick Ferguson ’73, Fitz Center executive director, sees in the actions of the Rivers Institute a practical wisdom. Students are not necessarily probing the depths of science but are instead identifying the knowledge needed by everyday citizens to make connections and take action. What makes an economics major passionate about the aquifer? Tap that, and you have the key to civic engagement.
“It’s always very clear that in order to get the most out of the students, you have to engage their hearts, heads and hands,” he says. “We tell them, you have to be willing to get wet … and spend every Friday afternoon for the next three years with the Rivers Institute. You’re going to have to use your head and think along with community leaders about how to bring Dayton to the river.”
And that thinking starts with listening. In the Rivers Institute, the 45 or so students work with coordinator Leslie King, graduate assistants and faculty from biology to history to engineering. In meetings, they joke about the dominant brainstorming style called nominal group technique. But it creates a level playing field that both empowers and humbles. A moderator asks each person to contribute an idea. Ideas are written down, but none are discussed until every idea is out, often after many rounds of the room. Then the discussion begins, and the group condenses, collapses and prioritizes the list, in the end formulating a plan for the future and assigning responsibilities.
The Marianists teach us much about a community of equals, Dick Ferguson says, which is part of what the Fitz Center aims to achieve. He points to Brother Don Geiger, S.M. ’55 as a perfect model.
At age 78, the retired professor and Dayton native can be found paddling the river with students, stopping to pull invasive purple loosestrife from weedy banks. A world-renowned environmental biologist, he can also be found at a Rivers Institute meeting of faculty and students, waiting his turn in a discussion where he knows his seniority does not ensure his opinions will win out.
Says Dick Ferguson of the Marianists, “They go in as learners and contribute as learners, not just teachers.”This makes UD’s Rivers Institute different.
Around the nation, universities are joining with cities and environmental groups in looking at ways to use, protect and market water. The Rivers Institute at Hanover College in Indiana is a hallmark of higher-ed programs. UD invited its director to campus for a presentation when the Fitz Center added rivers to its community-building agenda. He gave an interesting and technically competent presentation on the science of the rivers of the world.
But that’s not where the UD Rivers Institute wants to be. Hanover can be the leader of river science. The University of Dayton is a national leader in community building and defining the space between curriculum and experiential learning, Dick Ferguson says.
And that is where society needs the most help.
“Environmental challenges remain to be solved because we have failed to look at solving them through a lens other than those of science and engineering,” says Dusty Hall, manager of program development at the Miami Conservancy District, a partner of the Rivers Institute from the start. Hall led that first river trip of honors students in 2004.
Water is a potential billion-dollar resource if you take a multidisciplinary view, Hall says, and UD is in the rare position to prepare students to participate in the three bubbles of the water economy — economic vitality, quality of life and environmental integrity.
“There will be no better-positioned group in the country to address issues of water than the Rivers Institute,” he says.
For example, when tackling the issue of hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico — nutrification of water that leads to algal blooms and death of sea life — the stewards suggested having Ohio farmers talk with Gulf Coast fishermen. They believe that Ohioans whose actions contribute to hypoxia 1,505 miles downstream would make better choices about fertilizer application if they felt connected to the larger community of farmers, including those who farm the sea. Such conversations could succeed where years of political and public policy discussions have failed.
On a local level, the River Stewards will help advocate and plan for the removal of a low dam in downtown Dayton. It is a drowning danger and an impediment to developing the downtown section of the Great Miami River as a navigable corridor.
“We know how to take out a low dam,” says AJ Ferguson, a mechanical engineering major. “It’s no great feat — you get enough engineers in a room and they can figure it out. But getting through the public policy issue and the public perceptions issues is much more difficult.”
It’s a conversation he’s looking forward to being part of, and it’s the place to which he’s steering his career upon graduation in May.

“When I teach kids about the aquifers, I can probe them with questions, but I want them to touch and feel it and by the end ask questions that make me see they understand what an aquifer does.”
Bethany Renner, an early childhood education major, is looking forward to the day when she no longer needs to carry an aquarium full of sand and gravel down an icy hill from the chapel to Holy Angels School near Brown Street.That day could come in 2012.
This summer, she was one of seven students who received stipends to work on Rivers Institute projects. They shared an office and lived in community, lobbing ideas to one another through open doors at bedtime. Bethany’s project was the Rivermobile, which will take the lessons stewards are already sharing with children — ecology, river safety, history, energy — and house an exhibit in a 53-foot trailer that will become a mobile classroom accessible to students throughout the watershed.
The Rivermobile is the brainchild of Tracy Horan ’10, a Spanish and middle childhood education graduate who created a water curriculum for Holy Angels that worked to build community by getting the children to better understand the place in which they live.
Stewards adapted that curriculum this summer for children in the Adventure Central summer program at Wesleyan MetroPark in West Dayton. Alex Galluzzo, an operations management major, led the camp.
“The whole point of the camp is why Dayton is special, why you should be proud,” he says.
The sixth- and seventh-graders stomped in Wolf Creek, paddled kayaks and made edible aquifers that tasted a lot like sundaes. On the last day, the boys surprised the stewards with a rap naming the area’s five rivers and creeks, and the girls sang about invertebrates, algae and rocks. “It was one of the coolest gifts ever,” he says.
When the Rivermobile is complete, it will be one of many success stories for the Rivers Institute, which is constantly developing new ways to reach larger audiences.
While there are only about 45 River Stewards any given year, the River Leadership Curriculum reaches many more. The interdisciplinary classes use students, faculty and community members as teachers who craft lessons around water topics paired with field trips and guest speakers. Through a $180,000 grant from the McGregor Fund, the Fitz Center and the College of Arts and Sciences developed the curriculum. Graduate assistant Sarah Peterson, a 2010 River Steward alumna, helped assess the curriculum’s effectiveness, and two sophomore River Stewards this summer scheduled the teachers and sessions for the 2011-12 academic year.
It is a powerful educational model, one that demonstrates an effective new approach to learning, says Don Pair, associate dean for integrated learning and curriculum.
“It’s about the opportunity our students get — and I get to experience along with them — to see how community issues, priorities and assets connect,” he says. “Their entire educational experience is completely changed by learning what is on campus or just outside campus.”
He says lessons learned from the river curriculum will be applied to the Common Academic Program, the first major overhaul in 25 years of the University’s general education requirements that will guarantee all students a more experiential, interactive and collaborative education.

“I’ve signed a lease. I’m pretty committed to Dayton.”
Maggie Varga ’10 is the kind of person you know you need to hold on to. Smart, committed, connected and energetic, the economics and finance graduate first joined the River Stewards as a way to have fun on the river. She became a leader for her cohort, organizing their senior project from the headwaters of the Great Miami River watershed to Dayton. While completing her MBA, she became the Rivers Institute graduate assistant, and she then transitioned into the Rivers Institute’s summer coordinator. Today Varga, a Columbus, Ohio, native, is looking for a job in Dayton, and she has lots of supporters vying to make a spot for her on their staffs.
“There is a real movement around the rivers in Dayton,” she says. “Something is happening here, and UD was at the forefront of it. It was the enthusiasm of the students going down the river that kind of got the ball rolling.”
Rivers Institute coordinator Leslie King sees the development of Varga’s leadership skills as mirroring the growth of the Rivers Institute. It started as an August kayak for Berry Scholars, who told the Fitz Center it needed to create something more. It became a program for a small cohort, then added a curriculum to reach more students, which has become one of the models of the new undergraduate general education curriculum. Classes for Holy Angels students will become a regional mobile learning laboratory in the Rivermobile. The River Summit will be supported and partially coordinated by Ohio’s Great Corridor Association, created collaboratively with the Rivers Institute.
The growth is good, King says, because 45 stewards can accomplish only so much on Friday afternoons. Because of their community-building and leadership skills, they get to create and complete projects. They develop partnerships that assume some of the responsibilities, allowing those ideas to thrive while the next group of students develops its own projects. And with each new cohort, new priorities emerge.
One question King is now posing to the students: “We’ve done so much for the river in general. How can we now put some of the focus on UD’s riverfront?”
A student asked why we don’t have benches along the levee across from the University’s new River Campus, the former NCR world headquarters. Why can’t you walk from UD, sit and just enjoy the river? Good question.
And be assured they will have good answers, and a meeting employing nominal group technique, and a few field trips, and goals for their cohort as well as goals for life that are quite different than those with which they started UD. Stewards are true leaders in the Marianist sense, building community through civic engagement, bringing the community in which they live together over a shared resource and a common goal.
“I’m the perfect example of this,” says Varga, “of how the Rivers Institute changes your entire course of your college career and your focus in life.”
Bringing Dayton to the river.

Michelle Tedford paddled under the spray of the RiverScape fountains July 1 during a trip down the Mad River led by the stewards. The fountain water, fed by the buried valley aquifer, is a constant 57 degrees.

Friday, September 9, 2011

River Leadership Curriculum Week #2

Week two of the RLC had the students working together and developing leadership skills.

The students had several tasks to complete during class. They read an excerpt from the book Hope and Hard Times which talked about the idea of sustainability, how to deal with competing views of sustainability, a case study of the Monday Creek in Ohio, as well as other important topics regarding sustainability. The students led a discussion on the reading asking each other significant questions about the reading. Next, Maggie Varga led the students in a nominal group technique exercise. Maggie, an alumnus of the River Steward program and UD's Business school and MBA program, is also a former Graduate Assistant for the Rivers Institute. She acted as the GA for the RLC during the Fall 2010 semester. It was great to have her back in the classroom with us. Leading the nominal group technique, Maggie helped the students develop their own definition of what sustainability means. This idea came out of our brainstorming planning that occurred two years ago. Our partners realized the confusion that can come about when talking about the topic of sustainability. Many people have different definitions of the term which makes it hard to have a conversation about it. Using the nominal group technique, we were able to decide on one definition that the students could agree on, feel comfortable with, and refer back to throughout the semester. In addition, the activity gave the students the chance, early on in the semester, to work together and take ownership of the material they were studying. The students responded well to the activity and now define sustainability as:

Sustainability encompasses the engagement of all parts of society equally and fairly, in order to protect natural systems and create reliable solutions for all future generations. Sustainability involves all community stakeholders working toward the common good through best management practices and the application of the five R's (reuse, recycle, reduce, restore, renew). This is achieved by individual communities and society living within their means.

The students and presenters will refer back to this definition throughout the semester as we talk more about our water resources.

Below is a picture of the students working through the nominal group technique.

River Leadership Curriculum Week #1

The new semester has begun!

This new semester brings a re-vamped River Leadership Curriculum. This past summer Rivers Institute interns Nicole Goettemoeller and Lindsay Rynne worked on revising the RLC. Studying feedback from students and Leadership Team members Nicole and Lindsay developed beneficial changes to the RLC. With week one complete, we have seen one of those changes in action. Nicole and Lindsay developed two opportunities for the RLC students to meet our UD and Dayton partners in the very first class. In the first half of the class, the students participated in a meet and greet with faculty, staff, and community partners. This gave the students the chance to sit down face to face with partners that will be presenting during the semester. The partners also got a chance to meet the students and learn more about them. The second half of the class brought the RLC students to the community they will be learning about and interacting in. Nicole and Lindsay designed a tour that took the students to downtown Dayton. The above picture is of the students on the bus hearing from our partners on the tour of Dayton. They met Dusty Hall and Mike Ekberg while learning about Miami Conservancy District, they met Amy Dingle at Riverscape to learn about Five Rivers Metroparks, and they met Felicia Graham while learning about the City of Dayton Water Department. With the addition of the meet and greet and the tour, we feel the students received a better introduction to the class and who it involves. This class of 16 students is comprised of sophomores, juniors, and seniors from a variety of majors. We are very excited about the re-vamped River Leadership Curriculum and for the chance to engage more students in the curriculum.

Please check back to this blog for more updates on the River Leadership Curriculum!

Here's to a great semester!