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2010 Student Workshop

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Future of Environmental Decisions Workshop

Informing Citizens with Scientific Data

Workshop Dates:

November 4-7, 2010


National 4-H Youth Conference Center, Washington, DC


Students during Group work timeCurrent undergraduate students and recent graduates were invited to explore how scientific data can help citizens and decision-makers better understand the interaction of local and regional issues and the complexity of environmental decision-making. Participants considered a case study of the Potomac River Basin situated within the Chesapeake Bay watershed – examining selected aspects of Food, Fiber, Water and Energy. The Chesapeake Bay area was an excellent example of an ecological system directly and indirectly impacted by human activity and best understood through the interaction of important biological, sociological, and economic factors on a regional scale. Skills acquired were applicable to other regions.

Participants learned:

  • How to incorporate relevant large data sets that shed light on environmental issues on the regional scale, impacting local conditions
  • The new opportunities for understanding and research provided by the new ecological monitoring facility known as the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)
  • GIS, data analysis, and skills for communicating science to the public.

Workshop Highlights:

The workshop presented participants with opportunities to:

  • Network and meet representatives from environmental career tracks
  • Work in groups with scientific experts to explore geospatial datasets relevant to the ecological and socioeconomic dimensions of the Bay.
  • Present findings to peers and environmental professionals.

Workshop Objectives:

  1. Explore how visualization tools and technology can serve as an interface for students to interact meaningfully with environmental and social data.
  2. Demonstrate how regional scale data can inform environmental decision making at community and/or regional levels.
  3. Demonstrate how data exploration can engage and empower students interested in environmental conservation and environmental justice issues.
  4. Provide opportunities for students to gain useful skills and experience, network with local organizations, and explore potential careers.
  5. Inform NEON on how to engage an undergraduate audience and disseminate NEON data once it becomes available.



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