GEOGRAPHY & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES STUDENTS PRESENT AT CONFERENCE
A group of both undergraduate and graduate students presented at the Great
Mountain Regional Association of American Geographers meeting.
Special congratulations go to Isaac
Rivera who won first place in the Undergraduate Student Paper
Competition with his paper, written with other GES students, “Community
Environmental Monitoring via Grassroots Remote Sensing Applications and its
Empowerment Potential on Marginalized Communities."
FARMS AND THE CITY
New sustainable urban agriculture certificate combines coursework and field research
by Amy Vaerewyck | University Communications
Amanda Weaver’s students often ask her why she wears cowboy boots all the time. When they step a flip-flopped foot into manure at their geography instructor’s urban farm, they get it.
Although Five Fridges Farm is just outside Denver city limits, its 13 acres have the livestock smells and by-products of a traditional farm out in the countryside—and CU Denver students are experiencing it all, as they work to earn a newly available certificate in Food Systems and Sustainable Urban Agriculture from the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences
. Approved by theCollege of Liberal Arts and Sciences
in March 2012 and offered to students the following fall semester, the four-class certification program integrates traditional classroom instruction with hands-on field research at Five Fridges.
“I want to get students to participate with food systems and to see the different ways that urban agriculture can look,” said Weaver, PhD, a geography scholar who lives in the renovated farmhouse on the land at Five Fridges, which is practically next-door to apartments and condos. On the farm, Weaver raises milk goats, food crops and, now, CU Denver geography students.
A Different Beast Entirely
Since purchasing the Wheat Ridge property from its long-time owner in 2012, Weaver has secured a conservation easement and land trust deed, which prevent the land from being subdivided or used for any purpose other than agriculture.
“Urban agriculture is really a different beast,” Weaver said. “You get issues you just would never have on a traditional farm.”
She must navigate labyrinthine land management rules, which include both rural issues—agricultural ditch water, invasive weeds, grazing, fencing, etc.—and issues of urban infrastructure—storm water, sewage, utilities, zoning restrictions, trespassing and more.
“What keeps me going is that I am not bored with it,” geography major Caitlin Reusch said of the coursework on the farm. “There is always a new question.”
For instance, how do you keep a group of teenagers from the neighboring high school from throwing their cigarette butts into the livestock enclosures? Weaver has worked closely with Brian Page, PhD, associate professor and department chair, to develop a curriculum for the certificate that prepares students to find answers to questions like this one.
“[The certificate] stamps students as having a valuable skill set,” Page said.
So, will this certificate in Food Systems and Sustainable Urban Agriculture turn students into farmers? Short answer: no.
“This is not a program where you’re going to learn how to grow prize-winning tomatoes,” Weaver said. “This is about how to make urban agriculture viable as a profession.”
Whether they want to work on a farm or in an office, students who understand urban agriculture have careers waiting for them, Weaver said. This is because the urban agriculture movement is quickly evolving, which means laws and regulations must evolve, too.
“I am seeing job descriptions all the time for beginning planners and people involved with the urban environment,” she said. “Cities are changing their land management rules very quickly, so they need people who understand these agricultural issues, and there are so few people with this expertise.”
Reusch isn’t worried.
“There are so many places one can go with urban agriculture, from being an urban farmer to researching the effects of urban farms on the land, economy and world food systems,” she said. “With all of the applications of urban agriculture, I am sure I will find something I love.”
In the classroom, students discuss the economic viability of local agriculture. On the farm, they meet local growers and make connections between academic concepts and real systems.
“Five Fridges offers up so many opportunities for small-size environmental and microbiological studies,” Reusch said. “With the farm, you can see your research growing and thriving.”
In order to remain profitable, Five Fridges Farm not only produces, markets and sells its own products but also sells wares from a variety of local producers—from beekeepers to soap-makers to beer brewers. Students learn all of this and more first-hand through the certificate curriculum.
“Like any good curriculum, this one is evolving and adapting to the students who are in it,” Page said. He and Weaver expect students to play an integral role in shaping the future not only of Five Fridges Farm but of the urban agriculture movement.
“It's integrating more field study into a liberal arts degree,” Weaver said. “It’s truly applying their knowledge.”
STUDENT'S WORK ON DAM VULNERABILITY THRUST INTO SPOTLIGHT
Internship for Division of Water Resources coincides with Colorado flooding
By Chris Casey | University Communications
DENVER - Laura Ferre, an undergraduate student in geography and environmental sciences at CU Denver, found the importance of her internship project -- studying dam vulnerability -- suddenly magnified amid last week’s torrential rains.
Multiple dams along Colorado’s Front Range overflowed during the flooding.
Ferre has been an intern in the Dam Safety branch of the Colorado Division of Water Resources. "My project is a spatial analysis of socially vulnerable populations within dam inundation areas," she said. "The DWR would like to use this analysis to supplement internal decision making around a variety of issues from dam inspection prioritization to emergency action plan grant awards."
Applying social vulnerability -- such as areas with aging populations that may need extra assistance in an evacuation -- gives a better idea of the consequence of dam failure, Ferre said. Her work includes critical infrastructure analysis, which includes emergency response, such as police and fire departments, and the built environment, such as roads and power lines. This analysis can help in temporary shelter placement, emergency management plans and future development.
"The rains this week highlight the significance of practical disaster research," Ferre said. "Social vulnerability research is particularly useful for any level of government or decision makers during all phases of the emergency management cycle: preparedness, rescue, recovery and mitigation. Mapping potential consequences identifies specific neighborhoods that will need assistance the most."
At CU Denver, Ferre is a research assistant for Deb Thomas and Peter Anthamatten in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences. She said Bill McCormick, chief of dam safety for the Division of Water Resources, believes strongly in interagency cooperation. "Thanks to him I have been very fortunate to discuss my analysis with other federal, state and county departments. Their feedback has been very helpful to make the analysis as meaningful as possible."
Brigadier General Rodgers Scholarship for Geography Majors
As a result of a generous fund established by Mrs. Rodgers in honor of her late husband Brigadier General William M. Rodgers, a former instructor in our department, the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences awards up to two scholarships of up to $1,000 each academic year for geography majors. Please visit the Brigadier General Rodgers Scholarship Web site for further information. 2013 APPLICATIONS DUE MARCH 8, 2013!! SEE LINK ABOVE FOR MORE DETAILS!!
Congratulations to the 2013 Recipients!
Claire Brewer, Susanna Diller, Thomas Homer, Dylan Lewan, Caitlin Reusch, and Danielle Shea!!
GES Department Hosts the 2011 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Division
We were excited to welcome over 180 people from across the region to a meeting at the University of Colorado Denver, October 6-8, 2011! We had scheduled field trips, an opening reception, an opening address by AAG past-president Dr. Carol Harden, a keynote address by AAG current preseident Dr. Audrey L. Kobayashi, paper and poster presentations, the Geography Bowl, and student paper and poster competitions. Please visit the GP/RM AAG Regional Website
for more information on the conference and regional activities.
Dr. Gregory Simon Initiates a Collaborative Research Project with Stanford University
A team of student researchers from CU-Denver and Stanford collaborated with Dr. Simon in the Spatial History Lab at Stanford University during much of the summer. This ongoing project uses an innovative blend of historical and spatial data/methodologies to underscore factors that give rise to urban wildfire vulnerability. A review of this project can be found on the following website: Spatial History Project
GES Student Group Wins Outstanding Student Organization Award
The Geography and Environmental Sciences/GIS Club (aka EDGE) has been recognized by the University for its dedication, commitment, and outreach efforts. On 14 April 2011, EDGE won University of Colorado Denver’s Outstanding Student Organization award! This annual award represents the highest level of achievement for a student organization. Each semester EDGE sponsors a number of events ranging from engaging guest speakers and field trips to fun-filled geo trivia nights and volunteering. The Club is open to any student who has an interest in geography, environmental science, or GIS—graduate and undergraduate. If you are interested in participating, contact the President, Kaelin Groom (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Advisor, Casey Allen (email@example.com). You can also keep up to date on events by registering with Orgsync (orgsync.com) or find us on Facebook (GES Facebook Site
Dr. Simon Invited as Core Advisor to the United Nations Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
In 2011, Dr Gregory Simon was invited to serve as Core Advisor to the United Nations Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. As a member of the program's advisory committee Dr Simon has been influential in ensuring that the global initiative delivers new cookstoves to rural communities in a manner that is cost-effective, culturally appropriate and sustainable over time. A review of the United Nations program can be found here: Clean Cook Stoves
Flash Graze at Five Fridges Farm
Amanda Weaver, one of the GES instructors, recently placed 300 cashmere goats on her 13-acre property in Wheat Ridge, CO. The land is designated a conservation easement and this is a natural process of weed removal that increases soil health (via natural fertilizer and hoof action) but also nourishes the ecosystem and readies the land for planting. Curious neighbors (as well as the police and reporters from the Wheat Ridge Transcript) were on hand to take in the sights of these goats and herding border collies mingling next to apartment buildings and residential homes.
The Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences is
happy to report that we now have a second operating weather station in the
network located at Amanda's Five Fridges Farm. As with our station here on top
of the North Classroom building, this station is hosted and part of the Weather
Underground network. The link to the detailed weather page is:
GES offers first domestic travel study course, Summer 2011
The Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences offered a 6 credit domestic travel study course for the summer semester of 2011 entitled “Geology and Geomorphology of the Great Basin, Sierra Nevada, and Coastal California”. The trip itinerary included stops in the San Rafael Swell of Utah, Valley of Fire State Park, Death Valley National Park, Devil’s Postpile National Monument, Yosemite National Park, and Point Reyes National Seashore. Based on the success of this first offering, future summer travel study courses are in the works, both domestically and internationally, including modern glacier studies in Alaska, plate tectonics of the Caribbean, and glacial geomorphology and geology of Montana.
Dr. Wee is Co-principal Investigator on Two NSF Grants that Provide Funding for Students Interested in Science Education
One opportunity provides fellowships to UCD graduate students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to improve their communication skills, act as STEM content resources in middle schools, and be positive role models in order to encourage students to pursue college degrees/careers in STEM. Graduate students on fellowships collaborate with middle school teachers in teams, and spend 10-15 hours each week immersed in a middle school classroom. In addition to learning about communication and K-12 educational processes, successful applicants also get an opportunity to travel to China to conduct STEM research and engage in STEM-related curriculum and instruction from a cross-cultural perspective. We are currently accepting 2012-2013 applications. For more information, please contact: Bryan.Wee@ucdenver.edu
The other opportunity provides scholarships to UCD undergraduate students in the sciences (Environmental Science, Physics, Chemistry and Biology) to obtain secondary science teaching licensure, that is, a state-approved license to teach middle and high school science. There is a dire need for high-quality science teachers in CO who are both passionate about their work and knowledgeable about science content. Each scholarship provides students with $12,000 per year (renewable for up to 2 years). Upon graduation and completion of the licensure program (granted through the UCD School of Education & Human Development), Noyce scholars are required to teach for a minimum of three years in Aurora Public Schools, which serve urban, low-income neighborhoods. For more information, please contact: Bryan.Wee@ucdenver.edu