Augustana College has selected Scott County, Iowa, as its partner in the second-annual Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative (SWLI). The goal of SWLI is to focus Augustana students and experienced faculty on real-world problems facing communities. During the 2016-17 partnership, students and faculty will work with Scott County officials and community stakeholders to complete community-identified projects related to the presence of lead paint in homes.
"We are excited to work with Augustana to understand how many residences in Scott County have the potential to put children at risk for lead poisoning due to the presence of lead paint," said Edward Rivers, Scott County Health Director. "Together we can explore innovative solutions to getting the lead out before it causes a child to become poisoned."
"Students and faculty from a variety of disciplines will be involved in these projects," said Dr. Michael Reisner, director of the Upper Mississippi Center for Sustainable Communities at Augustana. Those disciplines include pubic health, sociology, anthropology, accounting, economics, history, geography, biology and environmental studies.
"These collective projects will help Scott County identify the most at-risk residences, build a broad private/public partnership to tackle the identified challenge, and formulate proactive, innovate strategies with the best chances of solving the problem," he said.
Once understanding the scope of the lead paint problem and possible solutions, Scott County plans to build on the SWLI partnership and make an impact through the public-private collaboration. To this end, several projects will focus on engaging people in the highest-risk areas, raising awareness of the scale of the problem and strategies necessary to solve it, and building a network of agencies, local organizations and community members to solve the problem-once and for all.
During the 2015-16 academic year, Augustana worked with the city of Clinton, Iowa, on projects including urban forest management, regional transportation and transit routes, improving the financial health of the recreation department, and helping small business owners with marketing and financing challenges.
In recent years, Augustana also worked with the cities of Moline and Rock Island on projects that assessed the health of urban streams and addressed current stormwater management challenges, and assessed the risk posed by the emerald ash borer to urban forests.