K-State Students Working to Benefit Delaware Watershed

Journalism students developing environmental awareness campaign.

Journalism and mass communications students from Kansas State University are helping with an environmental awareness campaign for a northeast Kansas watershed.

The students, who call themselves the Delaware 11, are working with the Delaware Watershed Project to inform the public about the importance of keeping the watershed clean and healthy to avoid problems such as drinking water well contamination, increased flooding and a loss of wildlife habitats and natural areas. The watershed covers portions of Atchison, Brown, Jackson, Jefferson, Nemaha, and Shawnee counties.

The students will launch the awareness campaign at a meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Jackson County Fair Building in Holton. Invited to attend will be watershed officials and state senators and legislators who have the Delaware River Watershed in their districts.

"The purpose of the meeting is to discuss water issues in Kansas, and especially the Delaware River Watershed," says Marlene Bosworth, Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy coordinator. "This should be a good time for the students to present their public relations campaign products and talk about what they've learned and what they think of these issues. They also will be expected to give recommendations on how to increase awareness throughout the watershed."

The students are members of K-State's public relations campaigns course, where they use a community service learning approach to design and implement a real campaign on behalf a real client. They also address real issues that affect people within Kansas communities.

"The course involves research and application of communication models and techniques in real-life situation and projects," says Nancy Muturi, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications and course instructor. "To do this, students are required to have a clear idea of the issues they communicate about, in this case they are learning about watersheds and environmental conservation issues."

The Kansas Campus Compact, through a Waterlink minigrant, awarded Muturi $5,000 in summer 2007 to implement the community service learning project collaboratively with Bosworth. The grant covers campaign expenses, travel to communities, office supplies and campaign material.

"Part of our assignment was to develop and propose attainable tactics, strategies and public relations materials that the Delaware River Watershed could continuously use after our work with the project was done," says Daniel Burr, senior in public relations, Manhattan.

After several trips to the various key communities to meet with the watershed's stakeholders, the students have been designing a brand logo, public service announcements, posters and flyers, brochures and environmentally-friendly water bottles, all with a Watershed conservation message.

Other K-State students involved in the project, all seniors in public relations, include: Nellie Ryan, Lawrence; Jana Broadmbent, Wichita; Jennifer Hartigan, Olathe; Lauren Luhrs and Jessica Silfverberg, both of Overland Park; Molly Manners, Parsons; Carly Baltes, Tecumseh; and Ali Johnson, Winfield.

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