The overarching goal of the WQI program is to not only examine local water-quality issues alongside a community partner but to emphasize the connection between these local issues and their broader implications.
Everybody lives downstream of somebody else.
Water Quality Indiana (WQI), funded for its third iteration by the Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry, again partnered with FlatLand Resources to examine and document selected sites along York Prairie Creek, a tributary of the White River that begins in Muncie and flows through Yorktown. This transdisciplinary team included students from Indiana Academy, a residential high school for those talented in science, math, and humanities. Several had the opportunity to travel to the “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, observing the ultimate effects of excess nutrients and water pollution.
In its second iteration, Water Quality Indiana (WQI) worked with Red-tail Land Conservancy, a non-profit land trust in East Central Indiana, and the Upper Mississinewa River Watershed Partnership, a community-based initiative funded through the Indiana Department of Environmental Management that serves six Indiana counties (Blackford, Delaware, Grant, Jay, Madison & Randolph) as well as Darke County in Ohio. A student team (representing five majors) documented several logjams obstructing the Mississinewa River and adversely affecting local water quality — some that spanned the entire width of the river. Their efforts contributed to a successful grant submitted to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to address this issue.
In its debut, Water Quality Indiana (WQI) worked with FlatLand Resources, an environmental consulting firm in Muncie, to explore and examine selected sites along Buck Creek, a tributary of the White River that flows through Muncie and Yorktown. The WQI program attracted students from six undergraduate majors: journalism, telecommunications, geology, biology, chemistry, and natural resources & environmental management.
Mitch Castetter, left, holds the filter steady while Leah Baines drains the sample from York Prairie Creek in Muncie, Indiana. Castetter, a NREM major, and Baines, a graduate student in Geology, joined WQI in Summer 2016.
Dr. Adam Kuban
Dr. Kuban, an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism at Ball State University, is co-creator of Water Quality Indiana (WQI), and he provides media instruction and guidance for students involved in this trans-disciplinary effort. Kuban and colleague Lee Florea have led multiple iterations of WQI, exploring watersheds throughout Indiana with their students in an attempt to bridge the chasm that often exists between science and media. Through WQI, Kuban has maintained partnerships with FlatLand Resources, Red-tail Land Conservancy, the Delaware and Randolph County Soil & Water Conservation Districts, and the Upper Mississinewa River Watershed Partnership. For the lattermost, Kuban and Florea serve as consultants. Most recently, Kuban and Florea are attempting to expand WQI into a river-restoration and conservation initiative that will engage high-school seniors and undergraduates from private and public universities in Indiana. This inter-institutional partnership will develop a virtual space for student-contributed water quality data and scholarship shared through learning modules and multimedia. Core aspects of this initiative will be disseminated to educators through national-level workshops and replicated within a growing network of partner institutions.
Dr. Lee Florea
Dr. Lee Florea leads the Water Quality Indiana Knowledge Group at BSU and has an organizational and leadership background in not-for-profit 501c(3) organizations and citizen science. He has a traditional grounding in quantitative hydrogeology and geochemistry, with wide-ranging national and international research experiences that earned a community Difference Maker award in 2015 from local business. Florea advocates strongly for expanding experiential learning opportunities for graduate and undergraduate education.. His blended-delivery course Earth, Life, and Time has garnered record enrollments; graduate-level, project-based learning courses in carbonates and geophysics have yielded professional reports to state agencies. Florea’s academic service at BSU includes roles in the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, Faculty Learning Community, the University Research Committee, and a research fellowship in the Applied Anthropology Laboratories.
FlatLand Resources is a local planning and design-build civil engineering firm founded in 2000, and based out of Muncie, Indiana. We pride ourselves in serving small-scale communities in the North Central Indiana Region. We seek to utilize our diversity of expertise in the field of natural systems, civil engineering, and environmental design/planning in the analysis of environmental problems at various scales. We want to understand the systematic and cultural factors that result in the degradation of natural resources and to determine/implement practical solutions at each of these scales. We are confident in our abilities to help urban and rural communities develop long-range plans and strategies to enhance natural resources. Utilizing natural systems in the design of human infrastructure is at the core of our approach. We seek to utilize our diversity of expertise in the field of natural systems, civil engineering, and environmental design/planning in the analysis of environmental problems at various scales. We want to understand the systematic and cultural factors that result in the degradation of natural resources and to determine/implement practical solutions at each of these scales.