Metro Atlanta Wetlands Conservation Education Center

Wednesday 12:05 pm – 12:30 pm PT / 1:05 pm – 1:30 pm MT / 2:05 pm – 2:30 pm CT / 3:05 pm – 3:30 pm ET Online

Justin Ballenger, Mercer University
Dr. Elaine Thurmond, Mercer University
Zipangani Vokhiwa, Mercer University

This presentation will focus on the early-stage development of Mercer University's Metro-Atlanta Wetlands Conservation Education Center. This outdoor learning space will support research and conservation outreach related to urban forests, wetlands, and broader urban ecology. Mercer University's Atlanta Campus contains 140 acres of naturally forested areas and wetlands that comprise some of the largest natural biodiversity zones within the Atlanta beltline. These areas have a crucial role in protecting the Chattahoochee watershed, which acts as the drinking water supply for the Metro Atlanta area, from run-off pollution. Mercer's urban ecosystems are a valuable tool for understanding natural resource conservation in urban locations, supporting conservation outreach, and broadening participation in STEM among minoritized groups.

The proposed urban conservation education center will leverage the expertise of faculty in the fields of education, community outreach, conservation biology, and natural resource management to support activities such as teacher professional development workshops, citizen science initiatives, educational outreach to diverse groups of stakeholders, and community events. The activities supported by this outdoor learning space will inform stakeholders of how they can be active participants in protecting Metro-Atlanta's urban ecology from threats such as the encroachment of invasive species, pollution, and other adverse human activities. The proposed center will also build greater awareness of Atlanta's green industry workforce in areas such, watershed/wetlands conservation, forestry, and urban agriculture.

The framework is the Collective Impact Model. This model describes five conditions that are necessary to engage in multi-level partnerships that enhance the impact of programs and collaborations (Kania & Kramer, 2011). These conditions include:

  1. Establishing a Common Agenda
  2. Share Measurement Systems
  3. Mutually Reinforcing Activities
  4. Continuous Communication
  5. Backbone Organization Support

Through collaborative partnerships with other institutions, governmental agencies, and the local community this project seeks to develop a replicable model for promoting conservation education.

Presentation Media

Poster presentation PPT format (PowerPoint 2007 (.pptx) 9.2MB Jun9 21)
Poster presentation PDF format (Acrobat (PDF) 659kB Jun9 21)
Abstract (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 26kB Jun9 21)




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