Outreach and Engagement Awards
2009 Ohio State University Finalists
In 2009, two programs were selected as Ohio State’s nominees for the regional Outreach Scholarship W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award and the C. Peter Magrath University Community Engagement Award:
Regional winners will give presentations at the October 2009 Outreach Scholarship Conference.
Rebuilding the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Ohio State Partner: City and Regional Planning, Landscape Architecture, Knowlton School of Architecture, College of Engineering
Community Partner: Harrison County, Mississippi
Links: Harrison County Comprehensive Plan
Photos (right): Pineville Boat Launch plan; Jennifer Evans Cowley and students who participated in the project (Andrea Sehic, Wolfgang Teran, Victoria Chaney)
Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, the Knowlton School of Architecture was interested in finding a way to help in the recovery and rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. Harrison County, Mississippi, and the City and Regional Planning program at Ohio State University formed a partnership in 2005 that continues today. Harrison County was significantly affected by the storm, with a number of communities losing 90 percent of their housing. The partnership started with donations from Ohio State University and planning organizations to bring a team of 12 students and city and regional planning professor Jennifer Evans-Cowley to work with two rural communities in Harrison County in developing long-range rebuilding plans. After the successful completion of the first round of plans, the project expanded to include engaging Ohio State to initiate and manage all of the long-range planning processes for the county. Students have been an integral part of the planning efforts. Students completed the community plans as part of courses wherein they traveled to Harrison County to engage with the citizens and leaders. Other students participated in independent study courses allowing them to research policies that could be used in Harrison County. Other students served as interns working on planning projects with the county. As a result, students have been able to participate in transactive planning, which is a mutual learning process that allows the students to learn from citizens and the citizens to learn from the students. One of the key elements of the partnership has been strong community engagement and empowerment. Ohio State adopted a model of empowerment, which allowed citizens to express what they wanted for their future and then teach them how to effectively reach implementation. This started with engaging citizens early and throughout the process. This was achieved through town hall meetings, newsletters, an 800 number, online discussion board, one-on-one contact, and steering committees. By engaging citizens throughout the process the goal is to facilitate a commitment to implementation. The results of the planning process have been called “a model for regional planning” by the Mississippi Governor’s Office for Recovery and Rebuilding. The community plans have received a number of state and national level awards for outstanding quality. What started out as $17,000 in donations has turned into more than $1.1 million in grant funding to support the initiative over a 5-year period. The result for the county and its communities is a clear path to achieve rebuilding. At present the students are actively writing regulations to implement the planning efforts.
- The citizens of Harrison County wanted to update the regulations for their communities. The county adopted zoning in 2000. It adopted a simply ordinance that was appropriate for a rural setting. However, with urbanization occurring the regulations simply couldn’t control development. Over the last 6 months students have written regulations that are currently being adopted. For example, students travelled to Mississippi to present landscape standards for new development for adoption by the Planning Commission. These regulatory changes will impact the overall development pattern of the county.
- Food access has been a challenge since the storm; many grocery stores have been destroyed and have simply not been rebuilt. In response citizens have requested more grocery stores. However, the population is not sufficient to support grocery stores. The plans recommended the establishment of farmers’ markets. Citizens organized to implement this recommendation creating two new farmers&rsquo markets, applications for funding support, and the creation of a farmers’ market network across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
- Ecotourism is a strategy that several communities identified as important. Currently there is very limited public access to the regions scenic rivers and waterways. The plan recommended the creation of a network of blueways and greenways. Ohio State assisted citizens and the county with a National Park Service grant application. The county received this grant allowing for the creation of a trails network master plan, which is currently underway.
Pineville Boat Launch photo: The Pineville Community, with the help of the planning team, determined the best way to achieve their goal of preserving the rural and natural character of the community was to promote ecotourism. The plan includes adding canoe launch points along Bayou portage, allowing for the Pineville neighborhood center to become a destination by water. As a result of the vision in the community plan and the efforts of the citizens to pursue this goal, the National Park Service selected the Historic Portage Trail project as part of its technical assistance program.
Saucier Farmers Market photo: As part of the empowerment model, citizens are charged with turning the plans into reality. In the Saucier community, a major goal was to get a grocery store so residents wouldn’t have to drive half an hour to get groceries. As a first step the citizens initiated a twice a week farmers market that attracts farmers from across the region and provides local residents with convenient access to fresh food.
The Ohio State University Stone Laboratory - Restoring a Great Lake Ecosystem and Revitalizing an Economy
Ohio State Partner: More than 15 departments from the colleges of Biological Sciences; Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences; Education and Human Ecology; Mathematical and Physical Sciences; Engineering; and the Office of Research, Graduate School, Facilities Operations and Development, Student Life, University Relations, Athletics, Alumni Association, WOSU, Registar
Community Partner: More than 300 partners including 30+ universities, more than 60 middle and high schools, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Fish and Wildlife Management Association, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, Sandusky Charter Boat Association, Sandusky/Erie County Visitors Bureau, cities of Huron, Mentor, and Sheffield Lake
Links: Stone Lab website
The Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory is a perfect synergy of research, teaching, and outreach to the community in northern Ohio and the Great Lakes Region. Stone Lab’s programs, which include the Center for Lake Erie Area Research, Ohio Sea Grant College Program, and the Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystem Research Consortium, bring academia, government, and the private sector together to solve some of Lake Erie’s most pressing environmental, economic, and education issues. In addressing these problems, Stone Lab’s programs have created a strong stimulus to the regional economy. Stone Lab collaborates/partners with more than 300 federal and state agencies, local governments, research universities, industry, businesses, foundations, clubs, organizations, and middle and high schools—more than three times as many as any other Sea Grant program in the U.S. In fact, Stone Lab’s Ohio Sea Grant generates over $20 of economic benefit per federal dollar invested in the program and over $50 of economic benefit per state dollar invested in the program. In its 30-year history, Stone Lab programs have funded 406 research projects, 250 principal investigators, and 444 undergraduate and graduate students from 19 Ohio universities and colleges. Field trips and conferences have educated more than 100,000 people, and more than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students and teachers have enrolled in summer college programs, representing more than 360 high schools and 105 universities across the country. The Friends of Stone Lab, a nonprofit group, have awarded more than 650 scholarships to college students and 250 scholarships to high school students with a total value exceeding $300,000. Outreach efforts through extension, communications, and education programs have reached many more people. The Stone Laboratory website receives over 10 million hits per year, and more than 300 newspaper, magazine, and radio/television programs are written or produced about the program’s work annually, spreading its outreach far beyond Ohio’s borders. Stone Laboratory is the base for much of the research that led to the “rebirth” of Lake Erie. Since its establishment in 1895, scientists and students have been conducting significant research on the ecology and physical characteristics of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes regions. Currently, Stone Lab is working to eliminate harmful algal blooms and reduce the dead zones on Lake Erie, develop new water treatment technologies to remove toxins from drinking water, develop new and inexpensive techniques to remove contaminants from harbor sediment, reduce phosphorus loading in the lake, improve fisheries management, increase coastal tourism and habitat restoration, and much more. These efforts have had major economic impacts for northern Ohio. For example, Stone Lab research and advocacy has resulted in changes in fisheries management laws and regulations and changes in fish hatchery practices that are producing 6-12 fold increases in hatchery production with no additional cost. Stone Lab’s engagement with the local charter fishing industry has resulted in a more highly skilled and experienced fleet of some 800 charter boats that flourish in an environment of smaller game fish populations and more challenging fishing conditions. The involvement of Stone Lab in addressing coastal erosion, wetland development, reef and habitat construction, and environmentally sound marinas has further buoyed economic development along the Lake Erie coastline. Stone Lab’s research, teaching, and outreach activities combine seamlessly to improve the lives of northern Ohioans.
- Lake Erie’s artificial reefs have created new and diverse aquatic communities for the lake. Stone Lab’s Ohio Sea Grant has constructed seven artificial reefs and assisted in the construction of three others, often by recycling materials that had been dumped into the lake (such as 25,000 tons of debris from the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium). These artificial reefs provide food, shelter, protection, and spawning habitats for fish, resulting in increased economic impact for the area. Fish concentrations around these reefs are now 12-66 times greater than in nonreef areas. Numerous local communities, environmental groups, businesses, and state agencies participated in this work. These efforts, together with ongoing programs that train Lake Erie charter boat captains in business management, marine technology, regulatory requirements, and environmental issues have helped to revitalize the charter boat and sport fishing industry in northern Ohio.
- Stone Lab developed a voluntary Ohio Clean Marinas Program in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation (Ohio’s Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program), Office of Coastal Management (Ohio Coastal Management Program), and Division of Watercraft; Ohio Department of Health; Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; and the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association. The basic goal of the program is environmental stewardship by making marinas and boaters more aware of environmental laws, rules, and jurisdictions, and best management practices. To date, 40 Lake Erie area marinas have met the stringent certification requirements and have been certified as “Ohio Clean Marinas,” with 20 more pledging to become certified. As a value-added project for the Ohio Clean Marinas Program, an Ohio plastics company helped the Sea Grant pilot a shrink wrap and greenhouse plastic recycling effort. As a result, nearly one million pounds of plastic have been recycled into useful products.
- Stone Lab was asked by the City of Sandusky and a local developer for assistance with a coastal construction project and an erosion problem. Stone Lab showed them how to reconstruct a wetland area that would stop the erosion that was threatening the city’s water treatment plant. The plan, which created a 94-acre wetland, also mitigated the loss of 17 acres of nearby wetland that was preventing a significant city development effort, by further serving as a site to place dredged material. The completed project includes a new marina, 400 condos, a resort hotel, and a large restaurant, together valued at over $100 million. As a result, the city’s water treatment plant was protected, and a colony of threatened terns is now nesting in the new wetland along with hundreds of muskrats.