ThinkWater Fellows announced for 2017-18

USDA-funded fellowship helps regional, state water experts build systems thinking into education, outreach and extension

Contact Jeremy Solin, 715-340-0376,

Madison, Wis.—ThinkWater has announced the selection of ten leaders in water education, outreach and extension to be ThinkWater Fellows for 2017-18.

ThinkWater is a national campaign supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and led by the University of Wisconsin-Extension and Cabrera Research Lab to help people of all backgrounds and ages think and care more deeply about water. ThinkWater applies systems thinking, or the ability to recognize distinctions, relationships and perspectives, to water education and research with the goal of identifying new approaches to water-related issues.

The ThinkWater fellowship builds a team of scholars and professionals engaged with water issues who apply systems thinking in their work. ThinkWater fellows may conduct research or be employed in positions that allow them to build systems thinking into program design, education and outreach for different audiences, such as farmers, community members, volunteers and youth.

The ten applicants selected for the 2017-2018 fellowship include:

  • Professor J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr. (Environmental Sociologist, Iowa State University)
  • Jim Collins, Jr. (North Dakota Department of Health Division of Water Quality)
  • Professor Helen E. Dahlke (Project Lead, Agricultural Groundwater Recharge and Banking, University of California, Davis)
  • Kristin Floress (Research Social Scientist, US Forest Service)
  • Deborah Suzanne Groebner (MinnAqua, Fish & Wildlife Division, MN Department of Natural Resources)
  • Jo A. Latimore (Aquatic Ecologist and Outreach Specialist, Michigan State University, Department of Fisheries & Wildlife)
  • Blake Osborn (Regional Water Specialist, Colorado Water Institute; Colorado State University Extension)
  • Erika Pierson (Program Manager, Earth Force)
  • Kara Salazar (Sustainable Communities Extension Specialist, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant; Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University Extension)
  • Grant Weinkam (Research Analyst, University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center)

Fellows will learn a proven method for teaching the rules underlying systems thinking approaches and methods that is suitable for all ages and populations from Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, faculty at Cornell University and founders of Cabrera Research Lab.

“We’re delighted to have representation from critical geographic regions, individuals who work with youth, adults, volunteers, businesses and not-for-profit organizations, those involved in direct and indirect service, with a number of them having received large grants to run complex projects related to a whole range of water issues,” said Dr. Laura Cabrera.

Fellows will develop and implement a comprehensive plan to integrate systems thinking into their water education, extension and outreach work in the geographic areas they serve, including building on the work that is being done in Wisconsin to implement ThinkWater.

A toolkit of resources and strategies is being developed in Wisconsin that will be the basis for fellows to integrate systems thinking into the areas they serve. Much of the training, consultation, and interaction will take place online, with the exception of the annual, live-streaming systems thinking conference at Cornell University in early December. Fellows will make brief TED-style presentation on their strategies for implementing systems thinking in their ongoing water-related projects and discuss early insights about implementation in their geographic regions.


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