October 19, 2012
A nationwide network of weather watchers, part of a program based at Colorado State University, was among four community engagement projects that were honored this month in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network was the 2012 western regional winner of an annual competition sponsored by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The four regional winners will now compete for the national title.
Representatives of CoCoRaHS traveled to Alabama to present their work and to receive their award and as the western region outreach scholarship award winner. APLU officials mentioned that CoCoRaHS “is a project that illustrates how programs can combine innovative technology, civic engagement and local leadership to address global challenges.”
Teresa Balz-Elsholz, a CoCoRaHS community coordinator at Valparaiso University, Henry Reges, CoCoRaHS national coordinator, and Noah Newman, CoCoRaHS school and education outreach coordinator, presented the project to a panel of judges at the National Outreach Scholarship Conference. The judges will select from among the CoCoRaHS project – “University Crowdsourcing, Climate Change and Student Science: The Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network” – and three other regional projects from Miami University (Ohio), East Carolina University and North Carolina A&T State University with North Carolina State University. The national winner of the C. Peter Magrath University/Community Engagement Award will be announced Monday, November 12 at the APLU annual meeting in Denver.
The Magrath Award recognizes four-year public universities that have redesigned their learning, discovery and engagement efforts to become more involved in their communities. The award, made possible by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, includes $20,000 and a trophy. McGrath, APLU President from 1992-2005, was a leading advocate for public universities embracing the concept of outreach and community engagement.
Started in 1997 after a flash flood devastated parts of the CSU campus and Fort Collins, CoCoRaHS today engages nearly 16,000 volunteers nationwide and in Canada, who measure and map precipitation levels in an innovative citizen science program. CoCoRaHS utilizes real-time rainfall data to improve storm warnings and weather forecasting. The interactive, web-based program also helps to boost climate literacy. Agencies using the CoCoRaHS data include the National Weather Service, NASA, USDA, National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
CoCoRaHS is developing a pilot program that provides a rain gauge, hail pads and rulers for snow measurements to all 1,800 schools in Colorado and trains teachers and students on how to report the data. Lesson plans and activities that meet both state and national standards for science – including math and geography – are being created and offered to participating schools.