Tuesday, 7 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Restoration and Response (NOAA OR&R) has a strong presence in Louisiana, providing essential expertise in oil spill response and environmental restoration. An educational agreement has been established between NOAA OR&R and the School of Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences at Louisiana State University. The partnership aims to improve the quality of the Environmental Management Systems undergraduate program by incorporating problem-based learning related to coastal environmental issues. The partnership should benefit NOAA OR&R by raising its profile in the community, and increasing the number of people who choose education and careers supporting NOAA's mission. Several classroom activities were designed to illustrate the complexity of environmental management and to inform students about environmental career options. NOAA OR&R educational materials, such as Environmental Sensitivity Indices (ESI) and toxicology Screening Quick Reference Tables (SQuiRTS) were used in two environmental management classes. A Web presentation, "Responding to Disasters," was produced to inform students and the public how NOAA combines Weather Service capabilities with trajectory and mapping tools, such as CAMEO applications, for immediate response to large chemical and oil spills. Guest lecturers from NOAA spoke to classes about careers in environmental science and about NOAA's environmental mission. As part of a special topics class, an undergraduate environmental management major developed two scenarios for an upper-level class project. Students worked in groups to investigate chemical, biological, and social aspects of oil spills. Results from class essays and projects suggest that students understand the role that NOAA and other federal agencies play in emergency response to chemical spills and in the long-term stewardship of coastal areas and that students are aware of career opportunities afforded by such federal agencies.