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The Oregon State University Sustainability Blog
Updated: 43 min 9 sec ago

New course offering: Social Dimensions of Sustainability

8 hours 49 min ago

A new online course will be offered during Fall 2014 for students in natural resources, environmental sciences, social sciences, and students interested in the Sustainability Double-Degree.

Beginning with a discussion on the importance of a social science perspective for study of sustainability issues, the course will compliment the ecological aspects of sustainability by exposing students to its social dimensions. The course will briefly examine the various theoretical and methodological tools for studying sustainability, with the remainder centering on the interrelationship between the environmental, social, economic and political structures associated with sustainability.

Course work will include online discussion board assignments, writing assignments, and a capstone project culminating in a critique of an organization’s social sustainability campaign message (including corporate social responsibility and social justice messages).

For more information, contact Lori Cramer or Derric Jacobs.

Course Details:

SOC399 (section 400): Social Dimensions of Sustainability

Credits: 4

CRN: 21086

Instructor: Derric Jacobs

Prerequisites: SOC204 (or permission of the instructor)

Categories: Ecologue

Eco-Representatives at Oregon State

Fri, 07/25/2014 - 2:49pm

The close of the 2013-2014 school year marks the end of the second Eco-Representative pilot program here at Oregon State. Eco-Representatives are a new trend popping up in colleges and universities all over the country to promote sustainable behaviors within residence halls.

Eco-Representatives (Eco-reps) are responsible for advancing and institutionalizing a culture of sustainability in the residence halls in which they live. Overall, this position is responsible for educating residents about sustainable lifestyles and resources, assisting with marketing and outreach efforts for sustainability programs, and planning and executing sustainability-focused events.  Eco-reps report to staff in the OSU Sustainability Office, but work with multiple departments and organizations on campus to meet program goals.

Eco-reps work an average of 5 hours per week for 11 weeks during each term with the exception of fall term since recruitment and hiring take place at the beginning of the term.

OSU’s Eco-reps are supervised by Sonja Mae, Sustainability Program Specialist, and in conjunction with them she supports cross-departmental accountability on sustainability related projects.  During this last year there was an Eco-rep for Halsell, West, and Wilson residence halls.

One of the main focuses of Eco-reps this year was the composting pilot program. In total, the 3 halls composted 2,797 lbs in winter and spring terms. West collected more compost than all 3 halls last year combined! Each hall’s Eco-rep is in charge of educational outreach on compost management and the day-to-day oversight of the bins.

Below is a graphic showing the breakdown of composting in each hall.

FY13-14 Halsell West Wilson # floors 4 5 6 # residents† 217 204 346 # of occupied rooms† 174 118 197 # participating rooms (# pails) 27 68 7* Total weight - winter (lb) 199 729 293 Total weight - spring (lb) 161 1015 400 Total weight (lb) 360 1744 693 Av. weight per week (lb) 18.9 96.9 38.5 Av. weight per room per week (lb) 0.7 1.4 unknown* †As of 4/24/14  *Eco-Rep Only issued pails to 7 people on 1 floor but all floors contributed to compost

West and Halsell halls also gained a lot of recognition through their Eco-reps. West Hall received hall program of the year for Eco-Month and Halsell Hall won the RecycleMania competition this academic year.  All halls with Eco-reps had the highest percent of participation in the competition.  Lastly, for the fall event Electric or Treat, where SSI staff and Eco-reps handed out CFL bulbs for Halloween, the West Hall Eco-rep gave away 81 CFL bulbs in one afternoon in her hall, the highest of any staff.

So far the Eco-Representatives have been very effective at furthering sustainability goals in their residence halls and, therefore, campus at large.  Eco-reps fulfill an important and unique need at OSU; Eco-reps work in the same place where they live and play and therefore are able to reach their peers more effectively than posters, handouts or regular staff.

The goals for Eco-reps in the upcoming years are to expand the program to more halls and also to have the previous year’s reps available to train new students coming into the position.

If you are interested in the program or want to become an Eco-rep yourself, contact Sonja!

Categories: Ecologue

Drive Less Save More: South Town

Thu, 07/24/2014 - 10:00am

The City of Corvallis is hosting free transportation outreach events all summer in South Corvallis.  While the “Drive Less Save More: Southtown” campaign is geared toward South Corvallis residents, the events are open to anyone! The next event is the Sage Concert Family Bike Ride on Thursday, July 24 at 5:30 p.m. The ride will start at Lily Park and end at Starker Arts Park for a free Sage Music Concert. Click Here to see the rest of the July events and stay tuned for more events in August and September.

This program is intended to further educate South Corvallis residents of their transportation options via events and what are called Go Kits. These kits are free, customizable, full of information and travels tools, and they will even be delivered to your door. Click Here to get your free kit.

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: Weekday Shopping at OSUsed Store

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 10:00am

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU spork.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

You may have heard of the OSUsed Store, which is run by Surplus Property here on campus. You may also know that public sales are held weekly, but what you may not know is that certain types of organizations can shop there throughout the week. What three types of organizations can shop at the OSUsed Store outside of the public sales?


OSU Departments, state and local government agencies, and certain nonprofit organizations may shop OSUsed outside of the public sale dates.

The above groups may shop during business hours on all weekdays except Wednesday. Individuals may shop for personal use during the public sales, which take place every Wednesday, and on the third Saturday of each month. See the calendar for 2014 public sale dates!

Be sure to check out Surplus’ Facebook page for neat deals on what’s being sold, as well as helpful reuse tips.

And congratulations to Arijit for once again winning this week’s Question! Keep up the great work.

Categories: Ecologue

Free Cob Building Workshop

Wed, 07/23/2014 - 9:19am
Beginning Cob Lessons at the Old Mill Center

The Old Mill Center for Children and Families is currently hosting a summer     camp for children where participants will learn some introductory cob building skills. The goal is to build a small cob playhouse for the center and volunteer work would be a great help to get the walls up a little faster.

This is a fantastic learning opportunity for anyone interested in cob/natural building. Experienced builders are more than welcome but they are also happy to show the ropes to those with no experience. In exchange for a little bit of hard work you will learn the basics of what’s involved with building a cob house from the ground up!

This Thursday, July 24, at 1:30pm there will be a a volunteer orientation and work session at the Old Mill Center building site. This orientation will not include any contact with the children.  After Thursday volunteers can come at any time during the week after 1:30 pm. If you can’t come on Thursday but would still like to be involved please contact Zak Kahn at zkahn3@gmail.com.

Categories: Ecologue

Corvallis Recycling Block Captains Needed

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 12:36pm

The Sustainability Coalition’s Waste Prevention Action Team is inviting Corvallis residents to participate in the Recycling Block Captains program.

As a recycling block captain, you can help educate your neighbors about recycling, composting, and waste prevention, as well as encourage their full participation in the opportunities that Republic Services is currently providing. The time commitment is 1-5 hours every three to five months (depending on how many homes you choose to cover), so it’s both easy and very beneficial to the neighborhoods that are served.

Recycling block captains have two primary responsibilities:

  1. Distribute recycling information to your neighbors 3-4 times per year.
  2. Serve as a liaison between your neighbors and the Coalition’s Waste Prevention Action Team (i.e. pickup your handouts quarterly and help answer your neighbors’ questions if/when they arise).

The Coalition provides the handouts; you define your own neighborhood (number of homes and location). You can see a map of existing neighborhoods and past handouts on their webpage.

Applications are due by July 27th, you can sign up for the program here!

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: Plastic Cold Cups

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 2:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU Cold Cup (with straw).

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Pictured below is a plastic cold cup. Into what bin on campus (excluding Res. halls) would you sort this into?


Plastic cold cups are considered trash.

Because cold cups are not one of the four shapes of plastic collected at OSU, they are not considered recyclable, and therefore should NOT go into the “containers” recycling.

Read our Recycling Mythbusters blog for more information on why some plastics are recyclable, while others aren’t. You can also visit the recycle guide to learn more about what types of plastic are recyclable on campus.

And congratulations to Arijit for winning this week’s Question of the Week!

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: Benefiting Organizations from Move-out

Wed, 07/09/2014 - 6:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU ChicoBag.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

OSU students donated 22,408 pounds of donations during this year’s move-out donation drive. Name four of the eight benefiting organizations who received donations this year.


The following organizations received donations from the Res. Hall Move-out Donation Drive:

You can learn more about move-out, including past years results, by visiting our webpage.

And congrats to Valeria for winning this week’s Question! Great job.

Categories: Ecologue

OSU collects 11 tons during Donation Drive

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 3:41pm

We’ve finally finished collecting the weights from the wood donations, and the results are in: OSU students donated 22,408 pounds of donations as a part of the Res. Hall Move-out Donation Drive this year.

The weights by category are as follows:

  • 10,027 pounds of housewares
  • 1,897 pounds of food, toiletries, and school supplies
  • 6,664 pounds of clothing, bedding, and linens.
  • 3,820 pounds of wood
  • 296 pounds of electronic waste (not counted in donation total because it was recycled)

This year saw an increase in the amount of housewares that were donated, but large decreases in the other categories. The amount of E-waste which was collected remained about the same from last year.

It is uncertain what caused the decrease in donations, but some possible examples include less waste being generated (ie, students taking belongings home early) or donatable items being thrown away.

While this did not meet our goal of 28,000 pounds, it still exceeded the 2012 weight, as well as last year’s goal of 22,000 pounds. Over the past five years, OSU has diverted nearly 100,000 pounds of belongings from the landfill through the donation drive.

A total of 27 volunteers from the community helped sort the donations into their respective categories. The donations were given to local nonprofit organizations, such as the Heartland Humane Society, the Parent Enhancement Program, and the Linn Benton Food Share. A portion of the donations were also resold at the OSUsed Store to help cover the costs of collecting them throughout the donation drive.

We’d like to thank the students of OSU for once again making the donation drive a successful event, as well as all of the volunteers for helping us pick up and sort through all of the donations.

Visit the Move-out History page on our website to learn more about the results from previous years.

The Res. Hall Move-out Donation Drive is an annual event coordinated by Campus Recycling in collaboration with Surplus Property and University Housing and Dining.

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: Recycled Water Bottle Energy Savings

Wed, 07/02/2014 - 4:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable 20 oz. OSU water bottle.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Recycling saves energy, as it costs less to recycle a material than it does to make it from scratch. If you were to recycle five plastic water bottles, how many hours would you be able to power a 60 watt CFL light bulb from the energy savings? (Hint: The EPA has a calculator for this on their website.)


You could power a 60 watt CFL bulb for 48.9 hours with the energy savings from recycling five plastic water bottles.

The EPA reports that only 9% of the total plastic waste generated in 2012 was recycled. Excluding transportation energy, the US used approximately 17 million barrels of oil in the production of water bottles, enough to fuel a million American cars for a year. Combined with the fact that bottled water is more expensive than tap, the option does not appear to be a very sustainable one.

While important to recycle, it is even more important to reduce the amount of waste being produced in the first place. By using a durable reusable water bottle, you can save resources and money.

And congratulations to Lisa for winning this week’s Question!

Time for our Question of the Week! The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU cold cup with straw. Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please. Question of the Week - See more at: http://oregonstate.edu/sustainability/blog/2014/06/question-of-the-week-ice-cream-containers/#sthash.hnUTYXnF.
Categories: Ecologue

Student job opening: E-Waste Project Coordinator

Tue, 07/01/2014 - 9:30am

Materials Management (comprised of Campus Recycling and Surplus Property) is hiring one E-Waste Project Coordinator, a student worker position, for fall term 2014.

This position will help OSU become e-Stewards certified for electronic waste disposal by April 2015 (E-Stewards is a standard that is recognized worldwide for organizations who dispose of electronics responsibly). The position will also assess the current processes used for processing e-waste at OSU and make recommendations for improvements.

This position is funded through a Wage Grant from the Student Sustainability Initiative, but the employee will work at the Property Services Building at 644 SW 13th Street and report to the Warehouse Coordinator.

Job duties:
  • Identifying the qualification requirements for e-Stewards.
  • Evaluating OSU’s current vendors’ certifications and qualifications for e-Stewards certification.
  • Completing time studies on dismantling computers.
  • Researching and identifying vendors for computer components and raw materials.
  • Identifying space and tool requirements needed for disassembling computers.
  • Outlining safety issues and resolutions for disassembling computers.
  • Presenting to Materials Management proposals for alternative e-waste recycling options.

The successful applicant will determine the best processes for e-waste recycling and help OSU become e-Stewards certified.

More Information:

The student will start work near the beginning of fall term 2014 in late September and work 10-20 hours/week on weekdays 8 am-5 pm through the end of fall term in December (it is possible the employee could continue working beyond that date in a different role). Starting pay is $9.50/hr. The successful applicant may earn academic credits if allowable by their academic department.

Applications are due August 8th. For job requirements and application instructions, please visit Campus Recycling’s website.

Categories: Ecologue

College of Ag – Open SDD Program Advisor Position

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 10:26pm

The College of Agricultural Sciences is looking for a full time employee for their SDD Program Advisor position.

The primary purpose of this position is to recruit for and advise Ecampus and campus-based students about the OSU Sustainability Double Degree (SDD) Program. This position requires knowledge of, commitment to, and participation in Oregon State University’s first-year academic advising program. This faculty member will design, maintain and/or carry out program activities to ensure that all people have equal employment opportunities and equal program participation opportunities.

This position will be 65% Recruiting/Advising, 30% teaching, and 5% serving.

The individual in this position will help students match their personal strengths and interests with opportunities within the University curriculum and they will help design assessment plans for the program.

Other than spending time with students, the position will involve maintaining student records using My Degrees and Banner as well as writing letters of recommendation for students in the program.

This position will include being the SDD Program’s internship coordinator and they will also monitor and modify curriculum. It will also be required to attend and participate in meetings, conferences, and seminars to gain ideas for program improvement and to promote programs.

Use of information technologies, like Blackboard, blogs, wikis, and various others will be important teaching tools and the individual will also develop and produce communication and recruitment materials for the SDD Program.

The successful candidate will work alongside the College Head Advisor and will serve on department, college, and university committees and maintain active membership and involvement in professional organizations.

A Master’s degree in environmental science, environmental economics, environmental sociology, sustainability, economics, or related field is required and experience teaching at a high school or college level is preferred.

See the link below for further information. To receive full consideration applications must be received by July 1, 2014.

Check out posting #0012608 on the OSU jobs page!

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: Ice Cream Containers

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 4:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU cold cup with straw.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Included is a photo of a ice cream container. Around campus (excluding within Res. Halls), into what bin would you sort a ice cream carton?


Ice cream containers are not recyclable on campus, and would be sorted into the trash.

Ice cream containers are not commonly collected at recycling facilities. The reason for this is due to the materials that make up the containers, as well as the problem of food contamination.

However, ice cream containers are collected for recycling at the First Alternative Co-op, who work with a recycler that collects such materials. You can learn more about what they recycle here.

And congratulations to Seema for being the winner of this week’s Question of the Week!

Categories: Ecologue

Corvallis Performs a Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 10:00am

Sustainability Program specialist Scott Dybvad got in touch with us about the city’s first Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

“The City of Corvallis released results of the first Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory. The final report shows overall greenhouse gas emissions for the community in 2012 were 1,257,115 Metric Tons Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (MT CO2e). The year 2012 was chosen for study as it was the most recent year with full data availability.

The inventory estimates the quantity of greenhouse gases emitted from sources and activities in Corvallis and breaks them into categories:

The consumption of food and goods ranks highest among the categories, comprising over 40% of overall emissions. This category estimates worldwide greenhouse gas emissions for food and goods consumed in Corvallis. The second largest category of emissions is electricity, with over 27% of the community’s greenhouse gas impact. This may come as a surprise to some due to the perception that most electricity in the Pacific Northwest is generated by hydropower. While that may be the case for the region, a large majority of Corvallis’ electricity is supplied by fossil fuels (80%).

The 2012 Community Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report is the first to estimate emissions from the Corvallis community and provides insight into where emissions are generated. It also provides a baseline that may be used to monitor future emission-reduction efforts by the community.”

The inventory, as part of the Energize Corvallis programs, was supported in part by a three-year Climate Showcase Communities grant awarded in 2011 by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The report can be found on the City of Corvallis website at www.corvallisoregon.gov/CommunityGHGInventory. For more information, contact the City’s Sustainability Program Specialist, Scott Dybvad.

Categories: Ecologue

Alaffia Bike Donation

Thu, 06/19/2014 - 3:44pm

Have an extra or broken bike? On Saturday, June 21st the First Alternative Co-op North Store will be hosting an Alaffia Bike Donation drive. So far Alaffia has collected more than 3,500 bikes and shipped them to students in 40 different rural villages in central Togo. All viable bikes are restored and given to students who have at least a 7km walk to school in order to shorten their commute time. Less time getting to and from school allows for more time to study and has shown an increase in retention. Of those who have received a bike there is a 98% retention rate and 95% passing rate on annual exams.

From 11am to 3pm on June 21st you can get rid of your old bike or bike parts and help support this organization in their efforts to keep Togolese children in school. Just take your donations straight to the truck and keep perfectly good bikes and their parts out of landfills. If you can’t make it on the 21st, both Co-ops will be taking donations beforehand, just go into the service center to make your donation.  Thanks for your contributions!

Categories: Ecologue

Question of the Week: Clamshells at Sorting Facilities

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 1:00pm

Time for our Question of the Week!

The first person to respond with the correct answer will win a reusable OSU spork.

Submit your answer here (“Leave a Reply,” below) or on our Facebook page. Only one post per person, please.

Question of the Week

Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) are locations where recyclable materials are sorted and separated. Where would plastic clamshells be sorted into?


The trash.

There are many reasons why clamshells are not accepted in MRFs: it is nearly impossible to check the material which they are made of, clamshells often have food contamination, which because of these facts, lead to clamshells having no market value as a recyclable material.

You can read more about why clamshells are considered trash on our Recycling Mythbusters blog post.

And congrats to Valeria Ursu for being this week’s winner of the Question of the Week!

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Project Grant: Solar Vehicle Team Solar Array

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 10:00am

The OSU Solar Vehicle Team received $3,000 in funding from the SSI this term. Project leader Wilkins White and the team used the grant funds to build a new car for competition in the World Solar Challenge in 2015. Funding from the SSI offered students first-hand experience working with solar energy and the basic knowlege required to implement alternative energy sources into their own personal projects. Wilkins wrote a short summary for the Ecologue.


The goals of the OSU Solar Vehicle Team are to give students real world experience in engineering and to raise awareness about sustainable transportation and solar energy.  One of the projects which our group is always the most excited about is the creation of our vehicle’s solar array; an ongoing project that first got me involved with the team my freshman year.

When I joined the Solar Vehicle Team over a year ago I knew nothing about photovoltaic cells, they were some magical material that took power from the sun and converted it to energy.  When I started on the array project I was constantly impressed with the density of knowledge about the subject within this small group of people.  I came to learn not only how photovoltaic cells work and how to use them, but also their limitations and how to minimize their inherent weaknesses.  This year I stepped into the role of mentor to teach others the secrets of the magical energy producing wafers and it was a blast!  As we continue with the design of our newest solar vehicle I am looking forward to passing on the knowledge I have gained from this team and seeing the innovative ways our members incorporate this technology into their own personal projects.

- Wilkins White

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Project Grant: Food Group Cooking Classes

Sun, 06/15/2014 - 9:57am

The OSU Food Group received $800 in funding from the SSI in order to host two cooking classes during the Spring term of 2014. The specific goals of these cooking classes were to 1) instill knowledge about basic cooking skills and empower participants to cook for themselves; 2) impart knowledge about local and sustainable food systems and utilize these ingredients during the cooking classes; and 3) provide a forum for collaboration between participants, community members, local farmers, and chefs. Project leader Madie Delmendo wrote an Ecologue post and provided pictures from the cooking classes.


This winter and spring OSU Food Group hosted two sustainably focused cooking classes. Sponsored by the SSI Project Grant, both cooking classes had the goal of spreading knowledge about what produce was available seasonally, where to buy locally sourced food, and the importance of sustainable food practices.

Professional chef Pati D’Eliseo taught the first cooking class. Pati taught a class of around 20 participants how to make purred vegetable soup and a warm vegetable ricotta salad. It was delicious! The class was a great success and OSU Food Group volunteers had the pleasure of starting many good conversations about sustainable foods with participants. The class highlighted winter available vegetables like leeks, radicchio, carrots, cabbage, and kale.

Food Group’s second cooking class took place at the beginning of spring and highlighted early spring veggies like asparagus. Rebecka Daye, graduate student from the Anthropology Food and Culture and Social Justice program, taught our second class. She featured Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo, roasted asparagus, and berry crumble. The berries we got frozen from a local farm. Even though berries aren’t in season quite yet in early spring you still have local options!

Unfortunately our last class of the year was cancelled because of unseen complications with location. Next year we hope to reapply and do all three classes!

- Madie Delmendo

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Travel Grantee: Rachel Tholl

Wed, 06/11/2014 - 1:37pm
Rachel Tholl received a $50 SSI Travel Grant to travel to Tempe, Arizona to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University from March 21-23, 2014. She wrote a brief blog post for the Ecologue to describe the experience.


The Clinton Global Initiative first caught my eye when the SSI Faculty Advisor, Jen Christion-Myers, brought it up at one of our weekly SSI staff meetings. The word that caught my attention while I took notes was “Clinton.” I am an avid fangirl of the Clinton family – former President Bill, the (hopefully future President) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the amazing author and mother-to-be Chelsea Clinton – and a chance to be in the same room as them was very exciting. Myself, Annie Kersting (SSI’s Landscape Coordinator), and Jen all started meeting and collaborating on ideas for projects that we could create to take to CGI to represent OSU. We played with the idea of a green roof, but eventually came up with Growing Food Security. With the fantastic help of HSRC Food Pantry’s Lauren Nichols and Lydia Elliott, and the Center for Civic Engagement’s Corin Bauman, we created a plan to grow food organically at the Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture, donate it to the Food Pantry, supply reusable bags to the Food Pantry, and host canning and cooking classes once a term. The six of us began meeting once every other week, since Annie, Jen, and I were all very busy writing applications to OSU and CGI, to name just two of the places we were explaining the project to.

Long story short, we were accepted into CGIU and OSU’s former Vice-President Larry Roper with Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul helped us prepare and fund our fees and travel. Myself, Annie, and Lydia all traveled to Tempe, Arizona right before Spring Break with our fancy skirts, dress pants, and collared shirts. The experience was amazing; I had never traveled alone before, nor been in the same room as people as amazing as the Clinton family. The thousands of international students in the program were all so energetic and full of aspirations and hope for the future – it was inspiring to see young people my age get excited about changing the future with their own hands!

Growing Food Security will have its first canning and cooking classes in the Fall term of 2014, and will hopefully continue past the 2014-2015 school year. If you’d like more information on how to get involved, whether as a participant or a volunteer, please email, call, or visit the SSI, which is on the south end of campus. Or you can apply to go to CGIU in 2015, if you have a project as awesome as Growing Food Security! Talk to Mirabelle Fernandes-Paul if you’d like to get involved. The application process starts in Fall and I’d encourage anyone with anything as initial as an idea to apply!

- Rachel Tholl

Categories: Ecologue

SSI Travel Grantee: Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey

Sun, 06/08/2014 - 12:00pm
Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey, a graduate student in the Masters of Public Policy program at OSU, received a graduate travel award of $500 to travel to and participate in the 2014 meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) held April 6-11 in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico.

I have been fortunate to present at dozens of conferences, many international in scope and theme. But this was the first conference I had a realistic opportunity to present at that was hosted at an international destination – Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico. I was excited! I was also worried if I could really afford to go. After all, graduate student budgets aren’t exactly known for being plush. Thanks to the wonderful SSI program travel grant, I WAS able to go!

This weeklong conference, the annual meeting of the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society (WDAFS), is held in various locations throughout western North America. This was the first time it had been held in Mexico, the newest member of the WDAFS. And what a meeting it was! The location – Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico – was noteable in its own right. But the truly international scope of the meeting, the large presence of international experts and Mexican university students and professionals, and the international theme – Rethinking Fisheries Sustainability: the future of fisheries science – was truly remarkable and helped the meeting to become a resounding success.

At the meeting, I presented research some colleagues and I have been working on recently on potential uses by resource managers and policymakers of data mined from social media. My interest was in whether valuable ecosystem observations could be gleaned from social media; in this case, Twitter. The short answer is ABSOLUTELY! Not only is Twitter a rich source of spontaneous observations of the natural world (e.g., species sightings) but also an excellent source of data pertaining to human-wildlife interactions; everything from the disgruntled recreational fisherman complaining about not enough fish in ‘his river’ to runners commenting on how remarkable it is to see coyotes interact in city parks or along trails.

Given the theme of the meeting – Rethinking Fisheries Sustainability, I was not surprised to find a whole host of wonderful sustainability-themed talks and special sessions to attend. And, in a way, my talk fit well with the sustainability theme (and the SSI mission). Not only is Twitter a rich source of ecosystem observations, mining data from social media is also quite cost-effective relative to labor-intensive field sampling techniques. I am not suggesting replacing field-based methodology, simply that harvesting ecosystem data that is widely and freely available online can be a cost-effective supplement to existing data. In fact, social media may even provide an early indication of ‘trouble areas’ which might allow resource managers to direct effort and resources to areas that need it the most (e.g., species invasions, problem human-wildlife interaction hotspots, disease outbreaks, etc.).

- Jeremiah Osborne-Gowey

Categories: Ecologue

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