CLE4R project continues to educate Iowans, improve air quality


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In an effort to educate Iowans about particulate air pollution, CLE4R has made Air Beam air quality monitors available for check out at the Dubuque Public Library, Dubuque Community School Districts and at the University of Iowa. (Taking Space)
Jenna Ladd | March 28, 2017

Clean Air in the River Valley, also known as CLE4R, is a collaborative effort to improve air quality in the city of Dubuque and nearby communities.

The project is a partnership between University of Iowa IIHR—Hydroscience and Engineering the city of Dubuque, and surrounding Upper Mississippi River Valley communities. Founded in October of 2015, CLE4R’s four pillars are environmental education, technology, partnerships, and planning.

Most parts of eastern Iowa and western Illinois experience air pollution that makes the air unhealthy for residents during at least some part of the year. CLE4R aims to reduce particulate matter in the air that is smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5). This type of air pollution is particularly common in Iowa’s Upper Mississippi River Valley communities.

Dr. Charles Stanier, University of Iowa associate professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, is director of the program. He said, “We have reached over 1,000 Iowans with high quality information about air quality and the health benefits of clean air. We have done this through our in person events, our website, media coverage, and social media.”

CLE4R has also worked to offer Iowans the practical experience of measuring air pollution in their communities independently. Stanier explained, “CLE4R has introduced all the stakeholders in the project: city staff, teachers, environmental groups, and local businesses, to the AirBeam hand held particulate [matter] monitors that are available for checkout from the City of Dubuque, the University of Iowa, and the Dubuque School District. ”

The project is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Education Program and is set to end this July. Representatives from CLE4R will be present at the Dubuque’s Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) festival on April 22nd and at Iowa City’s Science Technology Engineering Art and Math (STEAM) festival on April 23rd.

On The Radio – Environmental activist Sandra Steingraber visits UNI


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Sandra Steingraber is an American biologist, author, and cancer survivor. Steingraber writes and lectures on the environmental factors that contribute to reproductive health problems and environmental links to cancer. (Flickr)

Jake Slobe | September 26, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment discusses Sandra Steingraber and her recent visit to the University of Northern Iowa

Transcript: Long time environmental activist, Sandra Steingraber recently hosted a lecture, film showing and discussion at the the University of Northern Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Steingraber visited UNI to discuss three of her recent articles and give a lecture entitled “Be Arrested If Necessary.” She spoke about the role of environmental science as a catalyst for political and cultural change.

Sandra Steingraber, lives in Trumansburg, New York and has worked for years with government officials and other activists to bring about changes in her home state and around the country. She is a co-founder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York and New Yorkers Against Fracking and is currently the science advisor to Americans Against Fracking. In twenty-fourteen she led a successful campaign against fracking, resulting in the process being banned in the Empire State.

Steingraber is working hard to bring awareness to the effects of environmental degradation due to chemical contamination, fracking, shale gas extraction and climate change.

For more information on Sandra Steingraber and her environmental efforts visit iowaenvironmentalfocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

 

 

Water sustainability graduate program coming to University of Iowa


 

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The IIHR – Hydroscience & Engineering center which sits on the banks of the Iowa River in Iowa City. (University of Iowa)
 Jake Slobe | September 22, 2016

The University of Iowa recently won a $3 million grant to develop a Sustainable Water Development program for graduate students.

The grant comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF), a federal agency that provides funding for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

Set to launch in the fall of 2017, the program will train UI graduate students how to address the water, food and energy challenges that face communities with limited resources. This often includes rural areas, agricultural-based communities and developing countries. Around 50 master’s and doctoral students will be accepted into the program.

The new program will train a new, more diverse generation of water sustainability professionals to look at situations individually and apply solutions that are specific to each community, said engineering professor and Civil and Environmental Engineering Department Executive Officer Michelle Scherer, who is a co-principal investigator on the grant.

The Sustainable Water Development program curriculum will  get off to a running start taking full advantage of already existing resources UI campus resources including the UI Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the world-renowned IIHR–Hydroscience & Engineering. The program curriculum is designed to be flexible, prepare students for, both, academic and non-academic careers, allowing them to choose and tailor their training paths to fit their particular goals. 

A graduate certificate in Sustainable Water Development also will be offered to students.

While the new program will be beneficial to the university, advances in water sustainability are not new to Iowa.  This grant comes shortly after a $96.9M grant was given to Iowa from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to develop a statewide watershed improvement program, the Iowa Watersheds Approach (IWA).

 

On The Radio – Workshop brings together scientists and educators


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Teachers participating in a curriculum development workshop at the Critical Zone Observatory environmental science workshop last month. (Nick Fetty/CGRER)
Jenna Ladd | August 1, 2016

This week’s On The Radio segment covers the Critical Zone Observatory environmental science educator workshop that took place last month.

Transcript: Workshop brings together scientists and educators

Two University of Iowa professors from different disciplines came together last month to host an event aimed at helping teachers better connect with their students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Nearly two dozen Eastern Iowa teachers got together last month for a workshop that taught them about hands-on activities and lesson plans to better engage their students and potentially attract them to STEM careers. The event was organized by UI earth and environmental sciences professor Art Bettis along with College of Education clinical assistant professor Leslie Flynn. The event was also sponsored by the UI State Hygienic Laboratory and the Intensively Managed Landscapes Critical Zone Observatory, a National Science Foundation-supported research collaborative that studies the impact agriculture has on land, air, and water in the Midwest.

The workshop consisted of two parts: a morning session that had the teachers at a research site in eastern Iowa County learning about hand-on activities and potential field trip opportunities for their students. The teachers took water samples and tested them for various metrics such as nitrate levels. In the afternoon, the teachers took part in a curriculum development exercise at the State Hygienic Lab.

Dr. Bettis – who is also a member of the UI’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research – said he was happy the event was able to bring together scientific researchers and public educators.

Art Bettis: “With the CZO, we want to, just like all scientists we want to be able to get our science out to the public and there’s multiple ways of doing that but I’m a pretty firm believer that one of the really, really critical and best ways to do it is through education.”

For more information about the Critical Zone Observatory Environmental Science Workshop, visit Iowa-Environmental-Focus-dot-org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

UNI hosts environmental forum for students


About 1,000 local high school students were on the University of Northern Iowa campus on Tuesday to attend “Green: What Does it Mean? Exploring Our Sustainable Community.”

There were 40 speakers at the 5-hour event that covered a wide range of environmental topics.

The WCF Courier reports:

More than 1,000 area high school students got a hands-on look at what it means to be green Tuesday.

About 40 presenters, educators and community members from across the state participated in “Green: What Does it Mean? Exploring Our Sustainable Community” Tuesday at the University of Northern Iowa campus.

Students arrived by bus from Peet and Holmes junior highs, and Waverly-Shell Rock Community Schools for the five-hour event, presented by Cedar Valley Sustainability and Environmental Educators.

“It’s important to talk to young ones because they’re going to be responsible for what happens in the future,” said Leon Lindley with the Black Hawk County Conservation Board.

Diverse topics were covered in a learning environment meant to be radically different from traditional classrooms. Students participated in outdoor activities and lectures designed to create a better understanding of their global impact and sustainabilty. Continue reading