Date of Award

8-2011

Level of Access

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Jessica Leahy

Second Committee Member

Mary Dickinson Bird

Third Committee Member

Linda Silka

Abstract

A community-based environmental monitoring research project, entitled GET WET!, created a database of local groundwater quality intended for natural resource management and as a vehicle to educate the public to the need for private well testing. T his CBEMR employs state and local government employees, environmental non-government organizations (ENGOs), local businesses, local colleges, and community volunteers to assist 5th-12th grade students in becoming citizen scientists and stewards of their local groundwater. Under the direction and supervision of these professionals, students sample their private drinking water wells, perform chemical tests on their samples, research land-use and natural inputs into groundwater sources, and report their findings to the community. Qualitative and quantitative data gathered from the CBEMR conducted in 5 study sites in the northeastern United States were used to determine what changes occurred in social networks and social capital, what factors affect community trust of student data, and what motivates these professionals to volunteer in the classroom. Results indicate there was an increase in community involvement in groundwater management, an increase in participants' social networks, significant changes in social capital, and an improvement in understanding the factors that lead to trust in student-generated data, as well as trust in the CBEMR as a means of information dissemination. Results also indicate that volunteer motivations are closely tied to personal and professional goals as well as perceived benefits of the program.

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