August 15, 2011

Water resources association honors student group

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A national organization focused on protecting and enhancing water resources has honored a Southern Illinois University Carbondale group with its top award for students.

The American Water Resources Association named the SIUC group its outstanding student chapter in the country. The prize includes an expense-paid trip for the club’s president to attend the group’s annual conference in November in New Mexico.

The SIUC student group provides development, professional and academic opportunities for water resources students, while also providing information for the community at large. The group brings in speakers, provides watershed education programs in schools and volunteers for local activities aimed at enhancing water resource uses.

Karl Williard, professor of forestry in the SIUC Department of Agricultural Sciences, said the club’s success stems from the energy, enthusiasm, and commitment of the officers and the student members, including club President Amanda Nelson.

“As usual, the quality of the leadership, in large part, determines the success of the club,” said Williard, the student group’s faculty adviser.  “This group has a real passion for and commitment to community service.  They've spent a lot of time performing watershed education programs with middle school students, Girl Scouts, and the community at large.”

Williard said the group, a registered student organization, also has taken over responsibility for the Campus Lake volunteer monitoring program with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.  

“This has provided some great hands-on learning opportunities for undergraduate students who are interested in water resources management,” he said.

Williard said the recognition from the national organization likely would motivate club members for even more ambitious projects this fall and beyond.

“Successful clubs give students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills among their peers and allow them the opportunity to give something back to their community and the next generation of water resource professionals in middle school and grade school now, “ he said.  “I am continually impressed with the concern this generation of college students has displayed for their community, both human and natural.”

Students who are involved in active student organizations are more connected to SIUC, which leads to better classroom performance and lays the foundation for them to be more connected alumni upon graduation, Williard said.

The SIUC student group formed in 2006 and currently is made up primarily of students from forestry and zoology.