SWEEP: Sustainable Waterway Educational Engagement Program

December 6, 2010
Merith Weisman

Grant Awarded for Service-Learning in STEM Disciplines

A $150,000 Learn and Serve America (LSA) grant was awarded to the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) to support the creation of service-learning courses and research in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) diciplines. Thus, the SWEEP program came to life. The Sustainable Waterway Educational Engagement Program will be coordinated by new CCE staff member, Frederique Lavoipierre. Welcome Frederique!

SWEEP has four fundamental pieces. First, service-learners in Dr. Farid Farahmand and Dr. Mohammed Haider's Engineering Science classes will monitor the Copeland Creek in several places including at the Fairfield Osbourne Preserve (FOP), and where it enters and leaves the SSU campus. Second, microbiology service-learners working with Dr. Michael Cohen will assess the microbiological community in the same locations. Third, service-learners in Dr. Nathan Rank's Biology class will work with Entomology Outreach to tracking aquatic invertebrates along the creek. Fourth, service-learning courses will be developed in other disciplines including Environmental Studies and Planning classes doing restoration along the creek and focusing on the Campus GardenStatistics classes analyzing information, Computer Science classes building databases, and Geology classes doing geo-mapping, hydrology, and soil analysis. The fourth component also deepens parternships with community organizations such as Cotati Creek Critters and the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation that focus their work along the Copeland Creek.

"The Copeland Creek is very special. It is a host to tremendous diversity of invertebrates and it is a great creek for study."-Frederique Lavoipierre

Claudia Luke, director of the preserves, has also taken a lead role in this project. She explained that the creek holds very unique and special qualities. "The upper reaches of Copeland Creek are perennial and fishless which is very uncommon. The upper reaches of Copeland Creek support a rare species ofcrustacean known from only 13 locations." The creek lies at the boundary of the Petaluma and Russian River watersheds and has historically alternated its affiliation between the two, draining first into one watershed and then the other. There is much for students to learn from and contribute to the creek.

This grant is a great beginning for establishing a multidiciplinary program with positive impacts for the Copeland Creek and service-learning in the STEM disciplines that goes far beyond the three years that the grant is intended for.

More information on this grant and the SWEEP program can be found by emailing the CCE at cce@sonoma.edu or Frederique Lavoipierre at lavoipie@sonoma.edu.