Allegheny College’s Creek Connections program has received a $40,000 grant from the Grable Foundation to fund educator expenses in the Pittsburgh area, such as workshops, water-testing kits and school travel over the next two years.
“The grant allows us to continue our high level of support to Pittsburgh-area teachers, including materials for water-quality monitoring and staff time to assist schools in person and with travel,” says Wendy Kedzierski, Creek Connections director.
Since 1995, Creek Connections has been using neighborhood streams as outdoor laboratories for ongoing water quality investigations done by students. The program’s mission is to bring regional public school students an authentic natural science research experience and an appreciation for local waterways. The program extends the reach of the schools’ science curricula and offers assistance and materials that otherwise would not be available to teachers.
“Our teachers tell us year after year how much they appreciate the in-person assistance they receive from us to keep the project going throughout the school year,” says Kedzierski. “Our goal is to meet with teachers and their students on a monthly basis while they are conducting water-quality monitoring and working on stream-related projects.”
About 25 Pittsburgh-area schools are participating this year in Creek Connections. Altogether, 60 teachers participate in the program at more than 50 schools in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and western Michigan.
“You can’t understate the impact of getting students outside and into a creek, and teachers are more likely to involve their students when they have lots of support,” says Laura Branby, Pittsburgh-area coordinator for the program. “Creek Connections not only provides materials for teachers and their students, but also the time and attention of Creek Connections personnel.
“There are three rivers in Pittsburgh and a creek in every valley and alongside many major roadways, yet most students have never spent time in or on the waters,” says Branby. “You can see the surprise in the students’ faces as they complete water chemistry tests and realize that our creeks and rivers are healthier than they expected and that there is life in them. It fortifies the students to take on the challenge of making them even better.”
The Grable Foundation provides support to organizations that improve the lives of children in the Pittsburgh region from early childhood through the formative years, inside the classroom and out.
Dr. Nicole Gross-Camp, a visiting assistant professor of environmental science and sustainability at Allegheny College, has received a grant from the United Kingdom’s Darwin Initiative in conjunction with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in Scotland to make forest management sustainable in Tanzania.
The $469,000 grant will support the project participants over the course of three years in research they have titled “Realizing Equitable, Sustainable and Profitable Community-Based Forest Management in Tanzania” or RESPeCT. Gross-Camp’s portion of $59,000 will support her lead of the social science team.
Gross-Camp’s research focuses on the socio-ecological benefits communities derive from these forests while also recognizing the multiple roles that these landscapes play in peoples’ livelihoods. The team operates under the guidance of and in cooperation with the Tanzanian NGO, Mpingo Conservation and Development Initiative. MCDI has been working in the area since 1995 assisting communities in the establishment of community-based forest reserves on community terms. Working in collaboration with MCDI and local communities, RESPeCT aims to reduce deforestation and forest degradation through the formation of more community-based forest reserves.
“Tanzania has one of the most legally-robust systems for community forestry (CF) in the world with approximately 23 percent of the country’s 48 million forested hectares under communal or joint (governmental and communal) management. Despite CF’s legal standing, we still have much to learn about how these systems support and/or burden local people as well as how they perform ecologically,” Gross-Camp said. “Our project aims to do just that and, hopefully, provide guidance to the nation on scaling up of these governance systems.”
The other partners include the United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the World Wide Fund for Nature (Tanzania), the Tanzania Commission for Sciences and Technology (COSTECH), and the Kilwa Women Paralegal Unit in Tanzania (KIWAPO).
Photo Caption: Dr. Nicole Gross-Camp and her field manager, Lasima Nzao, with their field vehicle, affectionately known as mzee (‘old man’ in Swahili).
Robert Glennon, one of the nation’s foremost scholars on water policy and law, will deliver a free public address titled “Our Thirst for Energy in a Warming, Water-Stressed World” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Allegheny College’s Ford Chapel.
During his visit, Glennon also will receive the inaugural Ewalt Environmental Prize from the college for his research exploring solutions to worsening water shortages, especially in the western United States. He will meet with Allegheny students during a lunchtime program on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
The Ewalt Prize was established through the support of Henry “Bing” Ewalt, a 1962 Allegheny graduate, and his wife, Mary. The prize brings professionals to campus to teach about their expertise in environmental issues, especially those relating to freshwater supplies. “Professor Glennon is an ideal selection as our first lecturer,” Bing Ewalt said. “The combination of his disciplines and extensive experience have provided him with both a theoretical and practical perspective concerning this salient issue in our time of climate change.”
“Professor Glennon understands the challenges our country faces with respect to water policy and what we can do to build a sustainable water future,” said Professor Rachel O’Brien, Geology Department chair at Allegheny. “I have used his book in my first-year seminar (Freshwater Around the World) since it was published. The students learn from his technical knowledge as well as his writing style.”
Glennon is a Regents Professor and the Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Policy at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona. He received his law degree from Boston College Law School and his doctorate from Brandeis University. He is the recipient of two National Science Foundation grants and serves as an advisor to governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and law firms looking to solve serious challenges around water-use sustainability. Glennon is also the author of “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It,” which in 2010 received the Rachel Carson Book Award for reporting on the environment from the Society of Environmental Journalists.
The Ewalt fund has provided three copies of “Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It” for circulation at the Meadville Public Library. Interested community members are invited to read the book prior to his visit.
Bing Ewalt is a retired lawyer who earned his law degree at the University of Michigan. He also is a decorated U.S. Army veteran, having been awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Mary is a retired teacher and business manager. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Rice University and her master’s degree from Northwestern University.
On a bright and balmy September afternoon, Allegheny College Professors Casey Bradshaw-Wilson and Richard Bowden moved their classrooms onto the rolling deck of a 19th-century fishing schooner and skimmed through the ripples of a gently turbulent Lake Erie off Presque Isle — much to the delight of their 30 first-year seminar students and a handful of Allegheny staff members who tagged along for the two-hour trip.
“There is no agenda,” Bowden said as the students boarded the Lettie G. Howard, which was moored near the Erie Maritime Museum. “We just want them to have the experience of being out on the lake, and to have this opportunity to do it aboard a 125-year-old sailing ship is something not a lot of people get to do in their lives.”
For Hongrui Du, a first-year student from Qingdao, China, it was a rousing introduction to experiential learning at Allegheny. “I live by the ocean at home, but this is a spectacular way to see Lake Erie. I have never been sailing before. This is very cool — and unexpected,” he said.
The students didn’t just play the roles of tourists taking photographs with their smartphones all afternoon. They were pressed into service as makeshift members of the barque’s crew. They had to help pull and stabilize the backstays (lines) that raise and lower the formidable beige canvas sails that power the Lettie G. Howard. Using their “outdoor voices,” the students had to yell “heave!” as they pulled in unison on the lines. “Heave!” Not just once. But twice. Three times. Well, you get the idea. It was work.
Captain Katelinn Shaw also offered the students a lesson in sailing and how she became the skipper of a vintage fishing vessel. She did this as she maneuvered the ship through the Port of Erie Shipping Channel, first into open waters and then later back to dock. She also told them about the venerable Lettie G. Howard:
The ship is one of the few surviving examples of fishing schooners that once plied the Atlantic Ocean. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. It first set sail in 1893 and was primarily used to fish for cod in the North Atlantic. A gasoline engine, later converted to diesel, was installed in the 1920s to aid in maneuverability. The ship was moved to Pensacola, Florida, where 12 to 14 anglers would go out on each voyage and fish primarily for red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico.
In 1994, after an extensive rebuild to restore its original appearance, the Lettie G. Howard was certified by the U.S. Coast Guard and began a career carrying students on life-changing voyages. It is based at the South Street Seaport Museum in New York City but has spent most of the summer of 2018 in Erie.
One of the more memorable moments of the cruise was 10 minutes of onboard silence ordered by Captain Shaw, “so we can hear all of the different sounds of a sailing ship.” Sure enough, as the ship’s passengers sat serenely, one could hear the wind whistling through the rigging, gulls screaming and wheeling overhead, and the playful clap of white caps lapping against the vessel.
After tying up back at dock, the students ended the voyage with a salute to the crew of the Lettie G. Howard: “Hip, Hip, Hurray! Hip, Hip, Hurray!”
The group later reflected on the sailing experience.
“Getting them on Lake Erie was a great experience, given that many of them have heard of the Great Lakes, but have never seen one before,” said Professor Bradshaw-Wilson, whose first-year seminar theme is Water and Ecosystems. “I talk about the importance of the Great Lakes throughout the semester so it was crucial for them to see the lake and get an understanding of how magnificent it really is. Getting to experience Lake Erie the way we did this week was an invaluable experience.”
Professor Bowden, whose seminar is titled Conservation of Natural Resources, said the trip was designed “simply as an appreciation of being on the water and to realize the historical significance sailing once played in transportation and commerce.”
That’s a lesson that student Sebastian McRae of Redmond, Washington, took to heart. “From being on a sailing ship, I found that one has to yield to nature and work with nature. In a motorboat, you don’t have to think about that relationship, you just go. But on a sailing ship, you have to work with nature, you have to work with the wind to get where you want to go. It was interesting to see how that relationship works.”
Added Chloe Castle of Detroit: “It was impressive that a boat this old was in such good condition, and that everything on the boat was purposeful, it all had a specific use; and that every member of the crew was on purpose all the time.”
Allegheny College will host a series of three public lectures this fall focused on U.S. energy from a variety of perspectives, including energy policy, the relationship between freshwater and energy resources, and environmental injustices associated with energy production and distribution.
The first lecture, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, at the Tippie Alumni Center, features Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Jeffrey Ball. Ball is an internationally renowned scholar, journalist, and author on energy and the environment. His work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, Fortune, and The New Republic, among many other outlets.
Ball is scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and a lecturer at Stanford Law School. Prior to his post at Stanford, Ball was The Wall Street Journal’s environment editor. The title of Ball’s talk is “Sharp Fights and Hard Lessons in the Global Race for Cleaner Energy.”
In October, Dr. Robert Glennon, one of the nation’s thought leaders and commentators on the fresh-water supply, will deliver a talk on the intersection of water and energy. His address, “Our Thirst for Energy in a Warming, Water-Stressed World,” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16, in Allegheny’s Ford Memorial Chapel.
Finally, Dr. Julie Sze, professor of American studies at the University of California-Davis, will give a community address on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m. in the Tippie Alumni Center. Sze is the founding director of the Environmental Justice Project for UC-Davis’ John Muir Institute for the Environment. Sze’s research explores environmental justice and environmental inequality, and urban/community health and activism, among other themes.
The lecture series is funded in part through a grant from The Endeavor Foundation and the Allegheny College Environmental Prize Fund endowed by Bing and Mary Ewalt. Visits from these scholars are a key part of a course on The Future of Energy Policy, hosted by Allegheny’s Law & Policy program.
All three lectures are free and open to the public. Recent books published by Drs. Glennon (Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It) and Sze (Noxious New York) are available for circulation at the Meadville Public Library. Please contact Center for Political Participation Program Coordinator Shannon McConnell at (814) 332-6202 for more information or questions about this series.
Allegheny College senior Jonah Raether has been awarded the Henry J. and Erna D. Leir Fellowship to fully fund his Master of Health Science degree in community and global health at Clark University in Massachusetts.
Graduating from Allegheny with majors in environmental studies and global health studies, Raether will begin the highly competitive graduate program in the fall of 2018. The fellowship will allow Raether to mentor other incoming students, serve as a program ambassador at national and international conferences, and participate in the Urban Healthscapes Collaboratory.
“I visited Clark for a graduate student open house in October,” says Raether. “I was intrigued by the opportunity it would give me to serve as a representative for the Community and Global Health program, while also working closely with both the university and the City of Worcester to tackle key health issues locally.”
Raether will be among the more than 350 graduates honored at Allegheny’s Commencement on May 12.
While at Allegheny, Raether learned valuable lessons from his classes and professors, as well as his involvement with groups on campus, such as the Outing Club and the Bonner program, he says.
“Allegheny has taught me the importance of interdisciplinary classes and working with students and faculty from a range of academic backgrounds,” said Raether. “The Master of Health Science Program at Clark works on a similar model, so I feel ready to tackle that challenge. Both the Environmental Science and Global Health Studies Departments at Allegheny have a model that teaches students to not only do work and research well, but also how to talk about that work effectively and present the material confidently — skills that I think will be very valuable in the graduate program.”
“This fellowship is a well-deserved honor and a recognition of Jonah’s extraordinary ability to analyze and tackle complex global challenges with an informed perspective, critical foresight, and outstanding character,” says Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Benjamin Haywood, one of Raether’s academic advisors. “Jonah has engaged fully in the plethora of opportunities available to Allegheny students over his four years, excelling in a wide range of classes across disciplines, fusing his studies via independent research and study-away experiences, integrating himself in the Meadville community, and assuming leadership within student organizations,” Haywood notes.
Even though Raether has focused much of his time in the environmental studies and global health studies programs, it was initially the Bonner program that brought him to Allegheny.
“It helped make Allegheny affordable and made my decision to come here pretty easy,” says Raether. “Being a Bonner meant that I was engaged in the Meadville community from day one, and through the program I’ve been lucky to build strong relationships with members of both the Meadville and Allegheny communities. Some of my closest friends are a part of the Bonner program as well, and working alongside them has made my time here very memorable.”
As a leader of the Outing Club on campus, Raether’s experience with the group has led to other work with wilderness and environmental interests. “I’ve met people from every corner of Allegheny, and shared terrific outdoor experiences with them,” he says. “Most importantly, the Outing Club has shown me the value of stepping away from campus for even a short while, as a way of decompressing and reminding myself of the things that are really important. The experiences I’ve had through the club have also strengthened my interest in the relationship between human beings and the environments around us.”
Involvement in the Outing Club was also the precursor to Raether’s time with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) through its multi-month wilderness medicine field experience.
“We lived outside for almost three months, exploring parts of the U.S. that not many people get to see, learning and seeing a lot,” Raether recounted. “It was amazing to get out of a classroom for a while and learn in the field with an excellent group of people. I studied emergency medicine in a wilderness setting, which provided a deeper context to my interest in inaccessibility and inequity of healthcare. The most valuable thing I took from my time with NOLS was the training I got as an Emergency Medical Technician. Since returning, I have worked part-time as an EMT at Meadville Area Ambulance Service.”
After graduating from Allegheny, Raether’s pursuit of his master’s degree will take him further toward what he hopes to focus on — work in the field of natural disaster preparedness and response.
“I’m especially interested in focusing on healthcare access and infrastructure for vulnerable and underrepresented populations in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” Raether says. “Both the fellowship and the master’s program as a whole will encourage me to look at these global issues within a local context. Through the fellowship, I will get the opportunity to work with faculty and community partners to try and find solutions for health issues and disparities — experiences that will hopefully act as the groundwork for future employment or research.”
Haywood is confident that Raether is well-prepared for that future. “Jonah has capitalized on the value of a liberal arts education and is now poised to become a leader in global health and environmental justice,” Haywood says. “I look forward to seeing how he will utilize his time at Clark to create a more equitable and sustainable world.”
During the summer of 2018, Allegheny College graduating senior Leah Franzluebbers will be working among the high peaks in the Mountain West.
She is looking ahead to her summer job as a research assistant at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Colorado. This will be Franzluebbers’ second summer in Colorado working at the world-renowned high elevation field station.
This year, she will lead the undergraduate research team assisting on a project designed to understand how shifts in the distribution of species associated with climate warming will affect the way an ecosystem functions. The study is funded by the National Science Foundation.
Franzluebbers’ responsibilities will include a mix of lab work, such as running water chemistry and processing caddisfly (aquatic insects) samples, and field work, including helping survey aquatic macroinvertebrate populations in study ponds, setting up and taking down experiments, and collecting insect and water chemistry samples from the study sites.
Professor of Biology and Environmental Science Scott Wissinger will help to oversee Franzluebbers’ work in Colorado. He also served as a faculty co-advisor for her Senior Comprehensive Project at Allegheny. “Her senior project in political science and environmental science focuses on how moral foundations theory might provide insight into finding common ground between the political left and right on environmental issues such as climate change,” Wissinger says.
“In addition to her interests in understanding the human part of the sustainability question, she is fascinated with understanding how natural systems work, which is the other side of the equation,” Wissinger says. “For example, it helps to understand how the machinery of nature works so if we need to fix it — goals of restoration and conservation ecology — or make sustainable the services nature provides — clean air, water, and food — we understand how the machinery works.
Franzluebbers will be among the more than 350 graduates receiving diplomas at Allegheny’s Commencement on May 12. She has double-majored in environmental science and political science, all while managing to play Division III women’s volleyball for four years and devote hundreds of hours to community service.
A circuitous — but fulfilling — path
It took Franzluebbers a couple of years at Allegheny to settle on her unusual combination of studies, however.
“I took a circuitous route to get to where I am today,” says Franzluebbers, who is from Wethersfield, Connecticut. “When I declared my major sophomore year, I was a biology major and a political science and German double minor. At a certain point, I realized that I wasn’t satisfied with just a minor in political science, and that I wanted to pursue a major in it. My time at Allegheny has been following my interests wherever they took me, and I am incredibly thankful that it has worked out so well.”
In early April, Franzluebbers presented her senior project at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago. “My research focused on finding the right way to reframe the argument for climate action in order to appeal to a broader audience,” she says. “The project merged my interests in political science and environmental science, and the conference was a great opportunity to gain experience presenting research to others and to see professional political science research.”
Franzluebbers also spent a year as a Center for Political Participation Fellow at Allegheny. “College students today are more politically engaged and knowledgeable than they have been in decades, and through our programming, the CPP gives students ample opportunity to engage in topics of local, national and international relevance,” she says.
Being a student-athlete helped her academically, Franzluebbers adds. “During the season, my schedule was essentially the same five days a week: class, work, practice, and then homework. This often helped because it provided a structure that cultivated good academic habits. Being an athlete also teaches the relentless pursuit of a goal — that it takes practice, planning, and conscientious work to achieve anything truly worthwhile.”
Franzluebbers is a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, including a year as its scholarship director. She also joined numerous honor societies, including Pi Sigma Alpha (political science) and Phi Sigma Iota (foreign language). In May, she will be inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society.
Commitment to the community
Franzluebbers is proud of her four years of community service with E=MC2, a STEM-education program for Crawford County elementary school pupils. “I originally volunteered because friends of mine were also volunteering, but I soon volunteered more consistently and became the lead coordinator in my senior year,” she says. “Along with administrative duties, I help develop and teach the weekly lessons. The lessons engage the students, getting them excited about science while teaching them key scientific principles.”
One event that stands out in Franzluebbers’ Allegheny experience, she says, was the Battle for Bridget women’s volleyball match in October 2016. At the event, the team raised money for the Meadville Medical Center’s Yolanda Barco Oncology Center in honor of Coach Bridget Sheehan, who died in October 2017.
“Allegheny volleyball alumnae from all over came back to support Coach,” Franzluebbers recalls. “After the game we spent time with alumnae talking about lessons we learned from Coach Sheehan and swapping stories about preseason conditioning and long bus rides to games. It was a wonderful reminder that the community of Allegheny volleyball never leaves you and extends beyond the women you played volleyball with for four years.”
Her overall time at Allegheny also will be memorable, Franzluebbers says.
“I decided to come to Allegheny because I saw how the students here were not solely focused on academics, but on every aspect of their lives,” she says. “They were committed to excellence not only in the classroom, but also in extracurricular activities, in athletics, and in service. Students here are dedicated to cultivating their whole person, not just to getting the best grades — a quality unique to Allegheny compared with some of the other colleges I had considered.”
Franzluebbers’ advice to incoming first-year students: “Take every opportunity you can get to pursue what excites you, whether that be classes, clubs, or internships. Be relentless in your pursuit of your passions.”
Allegheny College senior Owen Ludwig is one of this year’s recipients of the national Davey Foundation Arbor Grant Award, given annually to about 50 students who focus on forestry, agriculture, or another green industry.
Ludwig is an environmental science major with a geology minor, and the $1,000 grant will support his work in green industries.
“Green industries are important to me for a number of reasons,” says Ludwig, who is from Monclova, Ohio. “I have a passion for the natural world that originates from a childhood spent exploring the outdoors. I think that it is important for everyone to have at least a basic connection to and understanding of the environment. It is critical that we take care of the Earth because we are dependent upon it to survive. Green industries work toward addressing these two fundamental issues: they try to enhance people’s connection with the environment, and they strive to care for the world in which we live.”
Over the past 25 years, the Davey Foundation has provided more than half a million dollars of support to students for their academic work. For Ludwig, the grant has eased the financial pressures of college and allowed him to focus on his education, activities and future plans.
Outside of the classroom, Ludwig works with Firth Maple Products, where he has been employed for two years. “Firth is a logging company that utilizes forward-thinking strategies to ensure that their timber harvesting is sustainable and promotes the health of the forest,” Ludwig says. “As a result, Firth is fostering a harmonious relationship between humans and the environment in which we can extract natural resources without compromising the future of the forest.”
Environmental Science Professor Rich Bowden suggested Ludwig apply for the grant. “Owen has worked with me as a research assistant in my laboratory for the last three years, assisting with a number of lab and field projects, as well as forest education efforts,” says Bowden. “Owen has been a terrific assistant, helping as much as his busy schedule has allowed. His experience, depth of knowledge, and sense of responsibility made it a no-brainer for me to depend on him completely. Importantly to me, Owen is a sound, caring person. He is extremely thoughtful, compassionate, and kind to those around him.”
Ludwig’s growth through Allegheny courses and his experience with Firth have helped make him a deserving recipient of the award. “Owen benefits rightfully in the recognition granted by a nationally recognized tree and forest service company due to his many accomplishments,” says Eric Pallant, the Christine Scott Nelson Professor of Environmental Sustainability and chair of the Department of Environmental Science. “Owen typifies the caliber of Allegheny’s students, as well as the breadth of opportunities available to students in environmental science.”
Many recipients of this award come from larger schools with dedicated forestry departments. ”Owen’s receipt of this award is a testimony to his energy in pursuing opportunities and his passion for forest protection,” says Bowden.
After graduation in May, Ludwig has a summer job planned with the Appalachian Mountain Club in New Hampshire, where he will lead teenagers on extended backcountry canoeing and backpacking trips. “Being a guide in the outdoor industry has been a longstanding dream of mine, and I’m excited to be able to share my passion for the outdoors with teenagers,” Ludwig says. After the summer, he intends to return to Meadville and continue his work with Firth Maple Products.
Professor of Environmental Science and Biology Scott Wissinger and Jared Balik ’16 presented an invited paper in the symposium Impacts of Climate Change on “Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Invertebrates: Research from Earth’s Coldest and Most Rapidly Changing Environments” at the Entomological Society of America meetings in November 2017. The paper was titled “Elevational range shifts in alpine aquatic insects and consequences for ecosystem function” and included findings from Balik’s senior research at Allegheny funded by the Beckman Foundation and NSF.
Natalie DeSantis ’20, an environmental science major, received a scholarship from the Georgia-based organization One Hundred Miles to attend its “Coastal Conservation in Action Choosing to Lead” conference on January 13–14, 2018, in Jekyll Island, Georgia. Allegheny graduate Megan Derosiers ’98 is the executive director of One Hundred Miles.