Alma Collaboration Receives Carter Partnership Award
Alma College and the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force are the
2008 recipients of the Carter Partnership Award, the premier community
service award for higher education and community collaboration.
The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus-Community Collaboration is given annually by Michigan Campus Compact to one partnership involving a Michigan college and a community group for working together in exceptional ways to improve people’s lives and enhance learning in the process. The College and Task Force will share the $10,000 prize.
“The Carter Award is a wonderful affirmation of the collaborative efforts of the campus and Gratiot County community,” says Alma College President Saundra Tracy. “Many faculty, staff and students have participated in this important collaborative effort over the years. It is a well-deserved recognition for an extremely important effort.”
Gov. Granholm presents the Carter Partnership Award trophies to Jane Keon (center), Melissa Strait (third from left in front row) and the entire Alma College contingent attending the Governor's Service Awards at the Fox Theatre in Detroit June 19.
The Carter Partnership Award was announced at the Governor’s Service
Awards at Fox Theatre in Detroit on June 19. Task Force Chairwoman Jane
Keon, Alma College Professor Melissa Strait and more than a dozen other
students, College and community representatives were on hand to receive
the award and the governor’s congratulations.
A selection committee comprising representatives from community, higher
education, business and government organizations selected the award
winner. The other finalists included community collaborations at
Central Michigan University, Northern Michigan University and Hope
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 Alma/St. Louis 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 Strait. “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.”
The College and the community work together to ensure the exchange of ideas between the EPA, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, local media and members of the greater community regarding information and ideas concerning the Pine River are heard by all parties, says Straight. The long-term goal of the group is to see a complete clean-up of the contamination.
In March, the College and CAG co-sponsored the Eugene Kenaga International DDT Conference, which brought in a number of national and international experts to examine what is known about the impact of DDT on human health and the environment.
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.
Michigan Campus Compact is a coalition of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purpose of higher education. 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, June 23rd, 2008 at 3:44PM