Education Committee Launches New Initiative
for University and College Outreach
By Thomas Harter, GRA Director
The committee maintains a very active program and accomplished a number of goals. With support from the Groundwater Resources Association of California's (GRA) Board of Directors, Education Committee members have proposed and carried out several initiatives, which have been driven by GRA's commitment to:
- Increase GRA's interaction with California 's university/college groundwater programs, and
- Develop and maintain a collegiate scholarship program.
Around 2006, GRA had contacted several campuses to inform students and faculty about GRA and discuss opportunities for synergistic activities. These discussions yielded some enthusiastic responses and resulted in a number of ideas that have since been implemented by the Education Committee.
Individual initiatives include the creation and continued maintenance of a database identifying teaching faculty from California colleges and universities who have groundwater as a focus of their specific research or teaching interests, or who recently published groundwater-related research. More than 120 faculty members at over 30 California colleges and universities are represented in the database and regularly receive updates on GRA activities. The database is used for such purposes as: 1) communicating information about GRA and its services and programs to faculty and students, 2) providing a list of potential speakers for GRA events or branch events, and 3) locating experts with research and discipline interests related to groundwater. The list is also "dynamic", i.e., it will be expanded upon as the committee receives suggested additions. As part of its web-based outreach, the Education Committee also maintains a website with student internship opportunities.
An original idea to bring GRA representatives to campuses as speakers transformed and culminated in the initiation of the David Keith Todd Lecturer Series, with Prof. Prem Saint from Southern California and Prof. John Bredehoeft from Northern California being the inaugural David Keith Todd Lecturers in GRA's anniversary year 2011. The two lecturers each are scheduled to speak at more than half a dozen colleges and GRA branches. Their tour closes with presentations at the Biennial Groundwater Conference. The Education Committee is proud of accomplishing this speaker series and will continue to plan these events.
A significant initiative of the Education Committee is the GRA-WEF (Water Education Foundation) Scholastic Fund Program, which we established with big support from GRA branches a few years ago. By 2010, five GRA branches participated in the program, which raises scholastic support at the branch level, at the state level during membership drive, and from individual donors. To facilitate donations from private donors, we recently initiated a collaboration with WEF through which tax-deductible 501(c)(3) donations to the Scholastic Fund Program can be made. The Committee's goal is to use this new collaboration with WEF to continue to raise the profile of and the activity level within the Scholastic Fund Program. Regular reporting in HydroVisions provides accountability and visibility for the program.
Another successful initiative of the Committee is the annual Collegiate Colloquium, which has become a standard and popular part of GRA's Annual Conference. A handful of students are selected to present their research work at the conference, providing them a highly visible platform for their research and an opportunity to network. The Education Committee also regularly contributes to Hydrovision through reporting on student activities and by facilitating the "Student Research Corner" section of Hydrovisions.
We welcome your feedback on ongoing or potential new education initiatives. Please send your ideas to Thomas Harter at ThHarter@ucdavis.edu.