Building a climate, soil, and water monitoring infrastructure to improve water-resource planning and STEM education in Daviess, Dubois, and Greene Counties

Status Start Date End Date Locations
Active Feb 6, 2020 Feb 5, 2021 Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Washington
Director: Shawn Naylor
Other Researchers: Robert Autio, Rebecca Meyer, Pratima Soni, Polly Sturgeon Jon Eldon (IU SPEA), David Wild (IU SICE), Dana Habeeb (IU SICE)
Funding: Indiana University - Center for Rural Engagement
Issue: Increasing local food production in the Indiana Uplands region requires advanced technologies that many small producers cannot access or even find available; consequently, there is a need for Indiana University to foster technological advancements within these communities. Weather and soil monitoring equipment are often too expensive for small growers, and a state-funded weather and environmental network such as those in Oklahoma (http://mesonet.org/), Kentucky (http://www.kymesonet.org/), and Illinois (https://www.isws.illinois.edu/warm/weather/) has not yet been established in Indiana. Discussions with Greene County residents indicate that expanded STEM education is needed. In addition to the need for integrating environmental monitoring and data into classrooms, rural and small school districts face significant challenges in developing computer science curricula.
Objective: The primary objective for this project is to create an environmental monitoring and data infrastructure that will support improved decision-making for farmers and communities while also serving as an innovative platform for improving STEM education in the Uplands region. The following project tasks provide the framework for achieving this goal during the 2-year project period.
Approach: We seek to work with local officials, farmers, and other local stakeholders to initiate three new IWBN monitoring sites to provide added community benefits in Daviess, Dubois, and Greene Counties. Data will be easily and freely accessible on the internet to enhance agricultural productivity, improve local forecasts and severe weather warnings, support business and industry, and provide teaching tools for K-12 education. Furthermore, we seek to engage community members and educators throughout the installation process and provide continued support via an immersive teachers workshop to support science, mathematics, and communication applications of the IWBN monitoring data.
Products: Task A. Install IWBN monitoring sites Task B. Work with local agriculture-support groups to increase visibility and use of monitoring data Task C. Develop web-based dashboards for IWBN sites including indices related to drought and flood conditions Task D. Host teacher workshop aimed at working with K-12 teachers to improve STEM education
Benefits: The work proposed herein aims to address technology shortages for both emerging food webs and K-12 education by further developing existing partnerships and building new collaborations between the Indiana Uplands region and the Indiana University Bloomington communities. Additionally, real-time weather data and long-term information related to soil-moisture, groundwater-level, and evapotranspiration (combined loss of landscape water from ground evaporation and plant transpiration) parameters are essential elements of forward-thinking water-resource management strategies addressing the resilience of the region’s natural resources.