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Shepherd joins watershed studies consortium, to host meeting November 1

ISSUED: 26 October 2017
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is now part of the Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, a consortium of federal agencies, tribes, academic institutions, state and local governments, nongovernmental conservation organizations, and other partners that help the federal government manage the country’s natural and cultural resources. As one of the newest members of the group, Shepherd was asked to host the annual meeting on Wednesday, November 1, from 10:30 a.m.-noon at the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education.

“We’re going to be able to take the opportunity to showcase what Shepherd has available and what Shepherd has done in the past,” said Dr. Robert Warburton, acting dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

The Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) national network was created by the U.S. Congress to give federal agencies such as the National Park Service the ability to boost research efforts and pay for projects that need immediate attention without having to go through a protracted bidding process. CESUs also give federal agencies access to additional resources and expertise. The Chesapeake Watershed CESU is made up of nine federal and more than 30 nonfederal partners. Warburton said membership gives faculty and students at Shepherd a chance to help with these projects.

“Now we’re getting emails on a fairly regular basis listing the projects across the nation that are sitting out there,” Warburton said. “If they need a specialist and there happens to be a person sitting at Shepherd, they can now contact us directly and say ‘we need help with this, what do you need in terms of resources? How much do you think it is going to cost? Here’s some money, please help us.’ So it’s kind of an exciting prospect.”

Warburton said membership in the Chesapeake Watershed CESU will give faculty at Shepherd more opportunity to do research and offer expertise to federal agencies like the Department of Defense, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service. Membership could also lead to more internships, practicums, and co-ops for students. He said several departments could benefit, including health, physical education, recreation, and sport studies; art; social sciences; business; history; and science and engineering.

“It really is going to be campuswide across all different disciplines,” Warburton said. “There’s a lot of expertise on campus, and the consortium is trying to match the project with the expertise to make the project move forward quickly.”

Warburton said participating in a CESU project will possibly give students material for their capstone research as well as real-life experience that will benefit them when they graduate and look for a job.

“They’ll be out there solving a problem that needs to be solved rather than just doing an academic exercise,” Warburton said. “When they leave Shepherd, on their resume they can say they worked on a project with a federal agency.”

As a member of the Chesapeake Watershed CESU, Shepherd provides a listing of what expertise it has on campus so the government agencies can look for someone to do needed work. The agencies also post requests, giving the universities the opportunity to offer help. Warburton said if two schools have similar expertise, they might work collaboratively on a project.

The Chesapeake Watershed Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit is one of 17 CESUs in the nationwide network, which means Shepherd faculty and students could be given the opportunity to not only work on projects in this region, but across the nation.

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