Alma Collaboration Finalist for Carter Partnership Award
For the second straight year, Alma College’s partnership with the
Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force has been selected as a finalist
for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award of Campus-Community
The partnership is one of four Michigan campus-community partnerships identified by the Carter Award Selection Committee for their “exceptional quality and impact,” according to Amy Smitter, executive director of Michigan Campus Compact (MCC).
The finalists will be announced at the 12th annual Institute for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Awards Dinner Feb. 7 at Central Michigan University.
The other finalists include community collaborations at Central Michigan University, Northern Michigan University and Hope College.
A $10,000 prize will be awarded to one of the four finalists in June during the annual Governor’s Service Awards Dinner.
The Carter Partnership Award recognizes colleges and community groups that work together in exceptional ways to improve peoples’ lives and help college students learn the value of community service. The award is coordinated in Michigan by MCC and inspired by the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Foundation.
The Pine River was declared a Superfund site in the 1970s due to accidental PBB and DDT contamination. In 1998, the Environmental Protection Agency determined the river was not undergoing the expected “natural attenuation” of the chemical DDT. After learning of the EPA’s recognition of emergency removal and remedial action of DDT contamination, Alma College and the community collaborated to form the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, an EPA-sanctioned Community Advisory Group (CAG).
The Task Force is recognized as one of the most influential and active CAGs nationally and as having the largest membership of any CAG in the United States.
“Many of us who are involved with the Community Advisory Group are members of both the College and local communities,” says Melissa Strait, professor of chemistry at Alma College. “In fact, Task Force Chairwoman Jane Keon has taught classes at Alma. Over the years we have worked with the EPA on issues related to contamination clean-up and provided expertise to address scientific and political issues.
“In March, the College and CAG are co-sponsoring the Eugene Kenaga International DDT Conference, which will bring in a number of national and international experts to examine what is known about the impact of DDT on human health and the environment,” she says.
Students have become a part of this partnership through research, coursework and independent study in a variety of subjects and academic fields, says Anne Ritz, service-learning coordinator at Alma College. Many students assist with river clean-up and other service-learning activities.
“The success of the college-CAG partnership can in many ways be attributed to the program’s extensive opportunities for involvement, seeking and incorporating diverse interests and skills to enable a multi-faceted, meaningful and creative collaboration with its members,” says Ritz.
The college-community team hosts forums and speakers, provides outreach programs and public meetings, and sponsors the annual fishing derby in St. Louis, among other events and activities, said Ritz. The CAG also has enabled community members and college students to interact with government officials and environmental agencies. Students and faculty also experience the benefits of hands-on learning and how their involvement positively impacts and influences the people, organizations, and environment around them.
The MCC promotes the education and commitment of Michigan college students to be civically engaged citizens, through creating and expanding academic, co-curricular and campus wide opportunities for community service, service-learning and civic engagement.
Posted: Mon, January 28th, 2008 at 8:12AM