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U.S. Virgin Islands Storm Strong Program

Funding: 
$499,998
Year: 
2018

Under leadership from the University of the Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, and local, non-profit, long-term, 2017 storm recovery groups, this 5-year project will create the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Storm Strong Program. To date, minimal efforts have been made to engage the USVI community in hurricane education and preparation. As a result, USVI communities face significant, but often preventable, storm risks. This is the Territory’s first sustained, community-based, hurricane hazard preparedness, and community leadership building program.

Under leadership from the University of the Virgin Islands, the Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service, and local, non-profit, long-term, 2017 storm recovery groups, this 5-year project will create the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Storm Strong Program. To date, minimal efforts have been made to engage the USVI community in hurricane education and preparation. As a result, USVI communities face significant, but often preventable, storm risks. This is the Territory’s first sustained, community-based, hurricane hazard preparedness, and community leadership building program. The USVI Storm Strong Program will engage underserved and underrepresented middle- and high-school youth and their families on all of the Territory’s main islands - St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix - in a program modelled after the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit framework. Youth and their families will: (1) explore the science and hazards associated with hurricanes, (2) assess their communities’ vulnerabilities and associated risks, (3) evaluate personal and community assets and options to increase resilience, (4) prioritize and plan for events occurring before, during, and after a storm, and (5) take action, in this case, through Community Transfer Projects, which will turn the information gained through the Program into local actions to increase individual and community resilience, sharing knowledge and actions with the broader USVI community and beyond. Through this training, ~400 USVI youth and their families will be empowered as environmental leaders and change agents within their communities and important insights will be learned as to how best to engage underrepresented and underserved groups in hazard preparedness. Creation of the USVI Storm Strong Program is timely, given the significant impacts resulting from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two Category 5 hurricanes that devastated the USVI in September 2017. These storms provide a window of opportunity to bring together partners from federal, territorial, non-governmental, academic, and the private sector, to develop a strategic, cohesive, long-term, high-impact, community-based program to improve environmental literacy and extreme weather hazard preparedness in the Territory, goals that align with the mission of NOAA’s Office of Education.

Competition: 2018: ELG for Community Resilience to Extreme Weather Events and Environmental Hazards
Award Number: 
NA18SEC0080010
Grant Dates: 
10/01/2018 to 09/30/2023
PI: 
Dr. Kristin Wilson Grimes
State: U.S. Virgin Islands   County: Saint Thomas   District: VI00 
Partners:   Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) / Region II, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NOAA OR&R's Marine Debris Program, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services, U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Natural Resources, University of the Virgin Islands / Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR), University of the Virgin Islands / Marine Advisory Service (VIMAS) at St. Croix, University of the Virgin Islands / Office of the Provost, St. Croix Christian Church, St. John Community Foundation, St. Thomas Recovery Team, Catalyst Miami, The Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands University of the Virgin Islands / Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning / Safety In Paradise

HEARTForce: Hazard Education, Awareness & Resilience Taskforce

Funding: 
$500,000
Year: 
2018

Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, drought and extreme heat. With this rise in hazardous events, there is a pressing need for communities increase their resilience. An interdisciplinary team from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder is developing and implementing an innovative, action-oriented youth engagement project targeting rural Colorado students, teachers and communities.

Communities in Colorado are increasingly experiencing major disruptions from environmental hazards, such as fire, flood, drought and extreme heat. With this rise in hazardous events, there is a pressing need for communities increase their resilience. An interdisciplinary team from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Education & Outreach Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder is developing and implementing an innovative, action-oriented youth engagement project targeting rural Colorado students, teachers and communities. Our engagement model empowers youth i) to envision community resilience through immersive scenario-based role play based on a solid understanding of the relevant science, ii) to learn about natural hazards through engaging Colorado-focused lessons, iii) to initiate conversations about hazard preparedness from within communities, and iv) to develop and implement student-led resilience action projects. The project team is developing instructional materials for middle and high school students: four lesson plans focused on different hazards (fire, flood, drought, extreme heat), four complementary scenario-based role-play games with a focus on youth empowerment and a teacher workshop based on these materials. Each school implementation follows a sequence in which the lesson plan activities are conducted, followed by a scenario-based role play game and reflection. Building on their experience with the game, students develop resilience strategies for their community and present those at a community Resilience Expo. The project has the following three objectives: 1) Increase Colorado secondary teachers’ knowledge and confidence to teach about local natural hazards, and to facilitate discussions about community resilience; 2) Increase Colorado youth’s understanding of natural hazards, their community’s vulnerability, and their involvement in resilience planning efforts, and 3) Enhance the capacity and empowerment of young people in Colorado to engage in dialogue with their peers, families, and community stakeholders about community resilience issues and identify, develop, and implement resilience actions. A needs assessment disseminated to Colorado teachers guides the project team in the development of all instructional materials and allows for customizing the content to teacher needs. The project evaluation explores the efficacy of the program model and studies the impact of the project activities on students and teachers. Specifically, the evaluation studies students’ confidence and ability to engage in dialogue around community resilience, level to which students increase their understanding of natural hazards and resilience planning, and the ways in which teachers increase their content knowledge and confidence in teaching about natural hazards. The project fills a critical gap in Colorado’s resilience planning which does not include teachers and youth. The project is guided by partners from the NOAA RISA program Western Water Assessment, seven NOAA science advisors, Science on the Sphere collaborators, and is being implemented together with over 20 community partners, school partners and collaborators from across Colorado. Over the course of the three-year program, the project activities will train and support 140 teachers, engage 400+ students and result in 11 Resilience Expo events across Colorado, from primarily rural communities. The instructional units and the games will be used in classrooms with 600+ students.

Competition: 2018: ELG for Community Resilience to Extreme Weather Events and Environmental Hazards
Award Number: 
NA18SEC0080007
Grant Dates: 
10/01/2018 to 10/31/2021
PI: 
Dr. Anne Gold (Reuther)
State: Colorado   County: Boulder   District: CO02 
Partners:   Earth Force, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks / The Wild Center, NOAA Climate Program Office (CPO), NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Boulder, Colorado Forecast Office, NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) / NOAA Planet Stewards, Foothills United Way, City of Boulder / Office of Emergency Management, University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Lowell / Climate Change Initiative, Wild Rose Education, Roaring Fork School District No. Re-1 / Glenwood Springs Middle School, Montrose County Re-1j School District / Montrose High School, Gunnison Watershed Re1J School District / Gunnison Middle School, Early College of Arvada, St. Vrain Valley Re 1j School District / Westview Middle School, Estes Park R-3 School District / Estes Park High School, Estes Park R-3 School District / Estes Park Middle School, Garfield County / Community Development, Gunnison County / Office of Emergency Management, City of Arvada / Office of the City Manager, City of Longmont / Public Works & Natural Resources, Larimer County / Office of Emergency Management, City of Boulder / Resilient Boulder, Colorado Department of Public Safety, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Colorado Department of Local Affairs, University of Colorado Boulder / CIRES / Education & Outreach, Mountain Studies Institute, University of Colorado Boulder / CIRES / Western Water Assessment, Adams State University / Luter Bean Museum / Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center, Northeast Colorado BOCES Western Colorado University