Beginnings: Fall, 1996
From report, 11/20/96. "We're planning to put our Atlas "pages" on the Web; that way people can easily find the kinds of information they want by accessing our site. We'll start modestly, adding "pages" as we go, and improving these pages over time. ("Pages," in Web terminology, are subject headings.) Atlas "pages" will include topics ranging from hydrology to demographics, a broad inventory which as a whole should give us a picture of the Bryant Creek Watershed. . . . "
"We believe that we humans who live in, work, play & study in, pass through and visit our watershed are our watershed too. Our well-being is as important to it as its land, forests, and waters are. We need to know how the human watershed connects to the natural watershed. When we begin to see these connections, we will have a place to start. We can begin improving the relationships between the people and the natural, which may improve the watershed's productivity of human happiness and natural health."
Event: Ron Hughes obtains our domain name, watersheds.org
An assumption: That the web site would serve both as a repository of information and also as a publication or forum.
Ideas for Atlas: "Driving Tour" to acquaint people with the watershed.
From report, 1/15/97: "We are devoting this year to one basic task: learning as much as we can about our watershed. We figure that to know how best to use our time and energy, and to engage that of others, we need to know the basic facts about both the natural watershed and, just as importantly, the human watershed."
From report, 4/1/98 "Watershed Project members Ron Hughes and Hank Dorst (in 1997) created a pilot for the Online Atlas to Bryant Creek and its Watershed. We put it "up" on our web site, www.watersheds.org, for several months. This gave us a chance to work with the new medium and figure out whom to address as its primary "audience," and how better to present the information we were gathering. The pilot also helped us understand what it would take to produce it in terms of time, organization, and money."
"In December we we joined with Ava teachers to help them create an Outdoor Classroom for the Ava Elementary School. Our basic function was to offer technical assistance, and in this case our help consisted in Susan's and Mary's doing grant writing for it. As the Outdoor Classroom takes shape, we hoped to provide material about the Bryant and its watershed, adapting information developed for the Atlas."
An assumption: That others would mainly supply the web site's content, and that we were simply suggesting the kind of content we wanted them to contribute.
From report, 4/1/98: ". . . in the past year we have come to understand that People Are the Bryant Creek Watershed --- because what people perceive determines what they will do."
"We are now in the process of redesign: new information categories, new icons, new approaches. We've seen our original emphasis on the natural environment changing to one which allocates more categories to people and their activities. We're aiming for Earth Day, April 23, to bring this new version, "Release 2.0," on line. Karen McSpadden and Joanne Olzsewski have taken on the job of designing and organizing the new version. Ron Hughes created the new icons before leaving to devote more time to his young twins. Hank Dorst continues as chief researcher. Whereas "Release1.0" was our pilot, Release 2.0 will be our prototype, which we fully expect to need to redesign, incorporating suggestions from local teachers."
"Our Schools Support Group works with teachers and administrators. Mary Chipps and Susan Wiseheart have made contact with teachers among the 7 school districts within or including parts of our watershed. Several are interested in helping us design the Atlas for students. They will help us test and critique the Atlas. Neither we nor they know how best to use this new electronic format."
Noted: We continued with our Project's 501(c)3 organization, Tides Center.
1999 was a fairly confused year for us. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted, but hadn't made a good transition from Ron Hughes as web keeper to someone who really knew how to do, or understand, what we wanted. We were new at all this (who wasn't?). It wasn't so easy as we thought it should be to create this atlas. So, although we were writing lots of content and making lots of photos, we couldn't get the material into the Atlas. Finally, late in the year, Marideth Sisco, volunteered to learn HTLM and put together a new format for the Atlas.
Marideth Sisco created our first working Atlas web site, and finally we had something we could begin trying out with teachers in the schools. So, our question was, "How can we get teachers to actually use the Atlas?" It was a year of intensive work in the schools. We developed a scavenger hunt; computer teachers got excited about the web site. We discovered that it was essential to work directly with teachers in computer labs. But most teachers were afraid of computers, and they had a hard time scheduling their schools' limited facitilities. Susie Coobs took over from Marideth as Webkeeper, and Version 4 of the Atlas went up in the summer. Midyear, Lois Reborne joined the consultant group. We began to explore in a more organized way how the Atlas might be of most use to local teachers. Late this year we created an E-mail newsletter, "In the Flow," sent to teachers and supporters.
Event: BWP was incorporated June, 2000 - Peter Callaway, Susan Wiseheart, Joanne Olzsewski, incorporators.
Event: Bryant Watershed maps were distributed to every middle school child, and classroom maps to every middle school teacher in the seven Bryant districts.
Event: Lesson plans specific to Altlas use were developed.
How to adapt the Atlas to the needs of teachers continued to be our theme. Susie began to join Susan and Mary in the schools, to see better how to adapt the Atlas to their needs. We held a series of focus groups with area district teachers to give us a better idea of what they wanted and needed. Lois wrote our first DNR Minigrant, a unit about Karst topography, which was funded in June. That summer, we added the first animated illustrations by Mark Giles - a movie on karst topography and nonpoint source pollution.
Our concerns were focusing on the development of a future for BWP and the Atlas, since our donor's promised support would end in the next 3 to 4 years. George Wittenberg and Vinnie McKinney joined Callaway as board members. They agreed that BWP's activities had to become more outwardly focused, as fruitful (funds yielding) directions became more apparent. They underlined the importance of Marketing.
11/24/01: Board considered issues from its 11/22/01 interview
with Lois Reborne, Program Development consultant and decided, "given
this window of opportunity" and limited resources, that:
Event: Incorporators elect BWP board: Peter Callaway, Vinnie McKinney, George Wittenberg.
School Watershed Awareness Project, a DNR mini-grant designed to demonstrate
the usefulness of our web site and our competence at program implementation.
The board had said to focus on development. We switched focus from "providing the Atlas to teachers and students" to "engaging teachers and students in the process of building the Atlas". The consultants, along with Peter Callaway, volunteer, took on the task of creating a future for the organization and the Atlas work. Susie revamped the web site, making every page conform to a style sheet and simplifying the navigation. Lois led the work on a Department of Natural Resources water quality 319 Grant, which was submitted in November, 2002.
Event: Staff reduced, school outreach emphasis on working with enthusiastic teachers at West Plains Middle School and Richards K-8.
Event: Lois and Susie presented workshops at both the MoreNet Educational Technology Conference and the Missouri Environmental Technology Conference.
Event: For all practical purposes, BWP moved to West Plains, population center for the region.
Event: Joined the collaborative of agencies and institutions that produces Howell County Waterfest.
Event: Mini-Grant awarded - Artstream, a pilot projectwith the West Plains Middle school to develop more place based methodology for building the Altlas.
Event: Submitted 319 DNR Grant, "Our Watersheds, Our Homes," a Proposal for expanding the Atlas Program to the North Fork, Eleven Point, and Upper Spring Tributaries Watersheds.
|Written by Peter Callaway,