Eastern Kentucky University

Poster Title

Right Fork Beaver Creek Monitoring Project: Undergraduate Research Experiences in an Applied Setting

Institution

Eastern Kentucky University

Abstract

The Eastern Kentucky Environmental Research Institute is conducting a year-long assessment of the Right Fork of Beaver Creek in Floyd and Knott Counties under contract with the Kentucky Division of Water. The year-long study began in March 2007 and consists of one- to two days of monthly water sampling at 33 sites throughout the watershed. Beaver Creek and its tributaries are on the state's 2006 303(d) List of Impaired Waters for not meeting the designated-use standard for primary contact recreation (swimming) and/or warm water aquatic habitat for conditions including: nutrients, organic enrichment (sewage), pathogens, pH, and sedimentation/siltation. Data from this study will help the Kentucky Division of Water develop a "total maximum daily load" or TMDL report for the watershed that will incorporate details of the impairment(s), watershed characteristics and a general implementation plan to address the impairments and improve conditions in the watershed. To date, twenty undergraduates from disciplines including environmental health sciences, agriculture, geography, mathematics, anthropology, sociology and biology have been trained and employed as field research assistants. We will overview the Institute's efforts to provide a diversity of students with real-world experience in proper scientific practices, methods in watershed assessment and evaluation, as well as a genuine understanding of the changing ecosystem in the Appalachian area. We will summarize the preliminary findings of the project, and highlight the experiences of several undergraduate participants and how the project has influenced their academic and professional plans.

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Right Fork Beaver Creek Monitoring Project: Undergraduate Research Experiences in an Applied Setting

The Eastern Kentucky Environmental Research Institute is conducting a year-long assessment of the Right Fork of Beaver Creek in Floyd and Knott Counties under contract with the Kentucky Division of Water. The year-long study began in March 2007 and consists of one- to two days of monthly water sampling at 33 sites throughout the watershed. Beaver Creek and its tributaries are on the state's 2006 303(d) List of Impaired Waters for not meeting the designated-use standard for primary contact recreation (swimming) and/or warm water aquatic habitat for conditions including: nutrients, organic enrichment (sewage), pathogens, pH, and sedimentation/siltation. Data from this study will help the Kentucky Division of Water develop a "total maximum daily load" or TMDL report for the watershed that will incorporate details of the impairment(s), watershed characteristics and a general implementation plan to address the impairments and improve conditions in the watershed. To date, twenty undergraduates from disciplines including environmental health sciences, agriculture, geography, mathematics, anthropology, sociology and biology have been trained and employed as field research assistants. We will overview the Institute's efforts to provide a diversity of students with real-world experience in proper scientific practices, methods in watershed assessment and evaluation, as well as a genuine understanding of the changing ecosystem in the Appalachian area. We will summarize the preliminary findings of the project, and highlight the experiences of several undergraduate participants and how the project has influenced their academic and professional plans.