A graduate student at Michigan Tech, Rhianna Williams, is earning a master’s degree far from the ivory tower of the classroom. She’s working as a volunteer with the US Office of Surface Mining VISTA program, helping residents of the Uncompahgre Watershed learn about protecting their water resources.
“I joined for the opportunity to practice what I’d learned in the class out in the field,” she says.
Williams conducts watershed education programs in the schools and monthly water sampling for Riverwatch, a group that monitors the river’s conditions along a 10-mile stretch of the Upper Uncompahgre River.
“I’ve enjoyed working with kids,” she says. “We work with local third-grade teachers to take the class out water sampling every month. They were really excited to know that the data they collected would be used to make decisions about their river.”
VISTA, originally Volunteers in Service to America, was founded in 1965 as a national service program designed to fight poverty in the US. In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs.
The OSM/VISTA and Peace Corps Coverdell programs offer graduate students the opportunity to combine academic study with supervised, practical field experience and research. Michigan Tech has partnered with OSM/VISTA programs since 2012
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