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Service-Learning Students Share Natural Hazard Resources in Oregon

By: Sherry Squires   Published 4:27 pm / May 2, 2017

Brittany Brand and student presenters

Front row, left to right: Cassidy Yatsko, Sierra Hollar, Hannah Welburn, Carson Carson MacPherson-Krutsky (colleague who also worked with the students) and Brittany Brand; back row: Tanner Nielsen, Aaron Marshall (TA) and Carl Breidenbach.

By Brittany Brand and Service-Learning staff

Geosciences assistant professor Brittany Brand integrates research, teaching and service to raise public awareness of natural hazards. This semester, Brand focused an Honors class, HONORS 392 Natural Hazard, Vulnerability and Risk, on emergency preparedness, then studied the impact of the class on both student learning and public awareness of natural hazards.

This work connects to Brand’s long-term consulting and research objectives on promoting community resilience to natural hazards and risk. Preliminary results about the impact on student learning are promising, and likely will lead to a publication.

Brand’s students excelled in developing innovative outreach tools to promote household preparedness and community resilience to local natural hazards. Brand and a subset of her students presented their research and tools at the Oregon Emergency Management Workshop in Sunriver, Oregon, the week of April 11. Students also shared findings from a questionnaire completed by Treasure Valley residents to assess the level of knowledge, accuracy of risk perception, and state of preparedness, and discussed how the results motivated their outreach tools. Student presenters included Tanner Nielsen, Hannah Welburn, Carl Breidenbach, Cassidy Yatsko and Sierra Hollar.

Under Brand’s guidance, the students developed well-crafted and knowledgeable presentations for the workshop and received highly positive feedback from the audience.  Approximately 60 people requested the students’ outreach materials for modification in their home communities. This experience was an excellent professional development opportunity for the students, providing them with networking opportunities to explore careers in emergency management, public health and communication.

Through the course and professional experience, students learned and developed skills in applying geologic and social science data to map local risk. The coursework and collaboration with Myla Jeffries from Ada County Emergency Management also allowed the students to gain insight into how our knowledge and perspectives of the world shape how we interact with it, and how we promote and build resilient communities. The students’ involvement benefits the Oregon and Idaho emergency management community by sharing new, adoptable outreach strategies and tools. More importantly, students demonstrated how they can be an invaluable resource for sharing natural hazard information in their communities.