Division of Extension announces recipients of Wisconsin Idea Collaboration Grant

The Division of Extension and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education are excited to announce the nine recipients of the Wisconsin Idea Collaboration Grants. Now in its second year, this grant funding aims to promote collaboration with faculty across campus around Extension’s six focus areas: promote healthy relationships, empower health and well-being, foster civic and economic leadership, enhance resilient natural resource systems, support positive youth development and support Wisconsin’s agriculture system.

“We’re excited to show more ways that Extension can bring solutions and research across the state. Today’s communities want proven ways to advance their goals and grow the skills of residents who are leading service learning and improving lives. These projects advance key topics that we know can benefit from innovative research and thinking.”

Karl Martin, Dean & Director of UW-Madison Extension

Grant awards are $10,000–$60,000 to cover projects for up to two years and represent new opportunities for UW–Madison faculty and staff who haven’t historically partnered with Extension to engage in applied research, community engagement and educational outreach programming.

“Extension is providing a critical connection between all areas of Wisconsin and UW–Madison. Our research projects benefit from Extension’s reach into communities across our state. The university is stronger with researchers and communities working together side by side to inform study and practice.”

Steven Ackerman, Vice Chancellor for Research & Graduate Education

Adapting an Eldercare Train-the-Trainer Curriculum for Diverse Populations and Community Settings

Tonya Roberts (School of Nursing); Jen Park-Mroch (Division of Extension, School of Medicine and Public Health); Sara Richie (Division of Extension)

This project aims to address health challenges experienced by older people from underserved communities in order to support aging in place. It responds to the needs of an increasingly diverse aging population and the health care workers who support them by adapting the existing CARE U curriculum to incorporate a health equity framework.

Creek Watershed Council

Caroline Gottschalk Druschke (College of Letters & Science); Chad Cook (Division of Extension); Ken Genskow (College of Letters & Science, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies); Sarah Schlosser (Division of Extension)

This project aims to provide organizational support to the Community Watershed Council, a newly formed nonprofit in the Driftless Region that brings together community members to address increasing flooding. It shows how Extension has evolved to focus not only on issues of water quality but also water quantity and the impacts of a changing climate on community resilience.

Decoding and Communicating Wisconsin’s Climate History from Ancient Cave Deposits at a National Natural Landmark, Cave of the Mounds

Shaun Marcott (College of Letters & Science); Ian Orland (Division of Extension)

This project aims to increase public awareness about the impacts of climate change by strengthening UW–Madison’s existing collaboration with Cave of the Mounds. It will continue to strengthen the long-term collaboration on education and outreach with Cave of the Mounds educational staff to better communicate how Wisconsin’s geology and climate has changed in the past and what that means for the future.

Development of a Peer Support Program for Re-Entry

Michael Koenigs (School of Medicine and Public Health); Ronda Davis, Danielle Hairston Green (Division of Extension)

This project aims to improve re-entry success and well-being for formerly incarcerated individuals who are returning to the community by developing a structured peer support program. It helps individuals navigate the challenges of re-entry, including addressing healthcare needs; securing housing, transportation and employment; and restoring or repairing family and social relationships.

Learning from the Past to Secure the Future of Oak Forests in Wisconsin

John Orrock, Ellen Damschen (College of Letters & Science); Johanna Desprez (Division of Extension); Craig Maier (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies); Amy Workman (Division of Extension)

This project aims to create actionable guidance for young people to be stewards of Wisconsin’s forests and ensure that those forests will thrive amid climate uncertainty. It will establish more reliable data relating to the oak savanna plant community that spans over 75 years and develop a new curriculum that will reach 16,000–20,000 young people.

Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve Habitat Map

Howard Veregin (College of Letters & Science); Kirsten Rhude (Division of Extension)

This project aims to improve restoration efforts at the St. Louis River Estuary by mapping the regional landscape and aiding in conservation planning being led by the Lake Superior Reserve and partners. It will produce materials to help with landscape scale research, including a field guide for identifying habitats, draft map and complete field data collection.

Nature’s Navigators Camp: Supporting Neurodiverse Learners in Effective STEM Education

Michael Notaro (Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, College of Letters & Science); Samuel Pratsch, Amy Workman (Division of Extension)

This project aims to reduce societal barriers that limit neurodiverse learners’ pursuit of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers by developing a summer camp for middle- and high-school students at Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center. Camp activities will utilize components of the NASA-sponsored Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment education program.

Policy Advocacy Workshops and Research

Molly Garner Carroll, Annalee Good (School of Education); Kari Weiss (Division of Extension)

This project aims to develop educators’ leadership skills to drive purposeful action in Wisconsin’s communities through a new collaboration between the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and Extension’s Organizational and Leadership Development Program. The result will be a two-day workshop, which will lead participants through the process of identifying a policy issue and creating an action plan to address it.

University of Wisconsin Water Action to Encourage Responsibility (UWATER)

Karen Oberhauser (Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences); Katy Bradford (Division of Extension); Gail Epping Overholt (Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education); Bret Shaw (College of Agricultural and Life Sciences)

This project aims to promote effective communication with policymakers and residents by empowering neighborhood “watershed ambassadors” to disseminate relevant information. It will develop educational programming that is aimed at creating more resilient communities and providing a model of how people can work together to increase resilience to environmental hazards.