CEES will utilize Pogue’s Run as an additional site for our environmental research and education outreach programs in conjunction with Indy Parks and Recreation. CEES faculty, staff, and students will conduct water quality and wetland ecosystem research, utilizing the results for the related education outreach programs. A significant, but critical component of the restoration project is associated with monitoring water levels in the constructed wetlands and associated open water habitat. The installed set of instrumentation will be the foundation for the monitoring program that will allow us to demonstrate the overall water quality benefit of the site. It will allow us to determine how the wetland is responding to changing conditions and allow those changes to be translated to the public. Data from the wells as well as participant use of the monitoring wells will form the basis of the environmental education program. Teachers can also continue to utilize the restoration project for classroom exercises after a visit to the site through web-base data distribution.
The site will additionally become part of the CEES integrated environmental monitoring network. The CEES research site network is focused on combining research and education in ecological restoration and water quality. At the present time, CEES maintains four wetland restoration sites within Marion and Hamilton County, IN and monitors water quality along the White River and in Eagle Creek Reservoir. During the past , the number of instruments deployed at our research sites has expanded from 5 to 24 and the number of instrumented sites has increased from two to six. We will additionally expand the complexity of the instrumentation to measure a suite of physical and chemical parameters and we will have the ability to transmit data for continuous data retrieval. The monitoring network will engage young audiences in scientific exploration through informal education. Users will have the ability to view data from multiple instruments at different sites, including Pogue’s Run. Two data command centers will display real time environmental data from the network. One display will be housed in the Department of Earth Sciences/CEES office or adjacent hallway and the second will be housed at the Indiana State Museum.
As the project proceeds, CEES will assist Indy Parks and Recreation Greenways to create and install educational signage. We envision informational signs along a trail system that runs along the margin of the site. CEES’ environmental outreach coordinator will work with Indy Parks’ staff naturalists to develop environmental education activity modules for use in Indy Parks and Recreation educational programming. These activity modules will be novel in that they will be based on research about the restoration project that students will visit. CEES will create and serve a project web site with project information, research data and teacher curriculum resources. This information will be freely available to all participants and anyone that utilizes the site. This information will become part of CEES’ overall environmental education program. Finally, CEES faculty will train Indy Parks and CEES staff in restoration outcomes and curriculum resources utilizing the data sets that are generated at the site. This will include a spectrum of information including research data collected by faculty and student researchers, service learning participants, park staff, and citizen science groups. We anticipate the information to include site usage by birds, amphibians and reptiles, and water chemistry and water levels from monitoring wells. CEES will additionally contribute to site maintenance through the service learning program. We will conduct service learning work days that will focus on exotic species removal and additional wetland plantings as restoration progresses.