2018 Baldwin Funded Projects

Advancing Climate Science Education, Inquiry, and Literacy Across Rural Wisconsin Communities

Project Leaders: Michael Notaro, Associate Director, Center for Climatic Research, and Rosalyn Pertzborn, Director, Office of Space Science Education
Duration: Three years

The proposed project aims to inspire scientific, placed-based inquiry and advance climate science education and literacy across the economically disadvantaged rural communities of Wisconsin. The collaborative team would synergistically unite the climate change expertise of UW-Madison Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research, science education experience of the UW-Madison Office of Space Science Education, and local environmental sustainability focus and extensive volunteer network of the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail Alliance. We aim to (1) expand understanding of environmental issues by facilitating accessibility to climate researchers, (2) incorporate data collection within the Global Learning and Opportunities to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program for comparison of climate phenomena and local environmental impacts, (3) provide teacher/citizen scientist training for GLOBE protocol application at schools, and (4) provide authentic K-12 research experiences by developing GLOBE special measurement protocols in collaboration with climate scientists to facilitate effective community climate change adaptation. Data collection will focus on a north-south transect of schools along the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail through the sharp climatic and ecological gradients of the Curtis tension zone. Environmental data collection and analysis will support evidence-based scientific understanding of climate change risks for guiding community decisions on adaptation.

Development and Implementation of Rapid Genetic Test to Improve Health Outcomes in Wisconsin Plain Newborns

Project Leaders: Christine Seroogy, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, and Mei Baker, Professor, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene
Duration: Three years

The goal of our project is to develop and offer a new approach to early diagnosis of genetic disorders in Amish and Old Order Mennonite (collectively referred to as Plain) children of Wisconsin. The objectives of this project are informed by the findings of our community partnership collaboration with a rural family medicine doctor in the Driftless region of Wisconsin, Dr. James DeLine. In collaboration with the newly established Center for Special Children in LaFarge, WI, this project will engage Plain community members throughout Wisconsin to improve early diagnosis of genetic disorders now known to occur in our state. Our project aims to promote early diagnosis of medically important genetic disorders through routine newborn screening along with development and implementation of a rapid and low-cost genetic test. Outcomes to be measured include assessment of health outcomes and family perceptions of genetic testing. Achieving our project goal will not only improve the health of this undeserved population of children in Wisconsin but will be informative to newborn screening and genetic testing for all newborns.

Engaging Families as Care Partners in Community Nursing Homes

Project Leaders: Tonya Roberts, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, and Elizabeth Cox, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics
Duration: Two years

This project’s goal is to collaborate with stakeholders from community nursing homes in Wisconsin (e.g., leadership, staff, residents, and families) to form a sustainable nursing home network to identify, synthesize, share, and implement effective strategies to engage families in the care of nursing home residents. Federal regulations set minimum standards for the quality of care in nursing homes, but these regulations do not provide guidance on practical strategies to improve quality of care. One innovative and effective strategy for improving the quality of care in nursing homes is to engage families as care partners. However, family engagement is one of the least recognized and most unstructured quality improvement strategies in nursing homes. The project will translate our previous successful efforts to improve healthcare through family engagement to community nursing homes, a setting in which family engagement could have crucial positive impact. To achieve the goals of this two-year project, we will partner with UW-Madison resources, stakeholders at community nursing homes, and Wisconsin advocacy organizations dedicated to improving nursing home quality to: 1) develop a sustainable community nursing home network to support high quality nursing home care, 2) synthesize successful nursing home approaches to engaging families as care partners, 3) develop a free, publicly available toolkit to support nursing home quality improvement efforts with a focus on engaging families and 4) evaluation of the success of implementing the tools in nursing homes.

Lawyers in the Doctor’s Office: Partnering to Address Health-harming Legal Needs

Project Leaders: Jill Jacklitz, Director of Education, Center for Patient Partnerships, Law School, and Sarah Davis, Clinical Associate Professor of Law and Associate Director of the Center for Patient Partnerships
Duration: Two years

Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that socioeconomic factors impact health, leading to deep inequities in health outcomes. Substandard housing, lack of insurance and food insecurity are just a few examples. Many of these “health-harming social needs” have a legal solution. Yet, 80% of the legal needs of people living in poverty go unmet. The healthcare setting offers patients the safety and privacy to begin conversations and legal issues that might otherwise go unrecognized are identified. Combining the expertise of two well-established law school clinical programs, Lawyers in the Doctor’s Office: Partnering to Address Health-Harming Legal Needs puts UW law and pre-law students in local health clinics to identify health-harming legal issues patients are facing and provide a spectrum of legal services – preventing legal crises and intervening on active legal issues that place additional financial and health burdens on families.

Peers Empowering Peers

Project Leaders: Eva Vivian, Professor, School of Pharmacy, and Sandra Millon-Underwood, Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Duration: One year

African American women have the highest obesity rate of any population in the United States. They are also more likely to have overweight or obese children when compared to white women. This is concerning because African American children ages 6-17 years have the highest rates of obesity, placing them at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, and other obesity related complications before adulthood. There is a need for social interventions that help African American families develop strategies to lead a healthy lifestyle. Peer support provides a great framework for creating a healthy living intervention, because people who live in the same community and share similar experiences are uniquely poised to address issues related to behavioral change which involve problem-solving and goal-setting skills. The goal of Peers Empowering Peers is to incorporate peer influence from community members to enhance learning of positive health behaviors for individuals and their families. Newly-trained peer health promoters will lead Prevent T2 sessions at local churches and community centers within their own community to help community members support one another in making and sustaining healthy lifestyle behaviors. This program connects to Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 because it promotes healthy nutritional habits and physical activity and also promotes strong social and community ties among community members that enhance social capital that can potentially change the built environment.

Preserving and Advancing Seed Sovereignty and Crop Genetic Diversity for Native American Tribes in Wisconsin

Project Leaders: Irwin Goldman, Professor and Chair, Department of Horticulture, and Claire Luby, Research Associate, Department of Horticulture
Duration: Two years

In recent years, we have actively engaged with the Ho Chunk community to grow, increase, and maintain ancestral corn varieties. We have also been producing seed of ceremonial tobacco from the Oneida Tribe in Wisconsin for the past two growing seasons in collaboration with the Wunk Sheek student organization at UW-Madison. These partnerships have revealed an opportunity for more substantial outreach to native communities to foster stewardship of their ancestral crop varieties. Maintaining and increasing genetic diversity in crop varieties can benefit from knowledge of population genetics. In addition, controlled pollination techniques can provide greater efficiency for managing cross-pollinated heritage seed varieties. Today, there is significant interest among tribal members in assessing, maintaining, and utilizing these valuable genetic resources for both food and seed sovereignty, as well as public health and nutrition. Despite the existence of a number of new training resources for those who wish to preserve and maintain seed of heritage crop varieties, we have identified the need for creating culturally appropriate resources that will mesh with the traditions and relationships around food and land resources in native communities. Our project has three parts: Part one consists of identification, grow-outs and seed production of heritage varieties at UW-Madison and on tribal farms. Part two is the development of an in-depth workshop series to develop seed stewardship leaders within communities. Part three is the development of a seed stewardship toolkit that will document the diversity that we characterize and include seed stewardship resources.

Show Me the Bees! Engaging Growers with Citizen Science to Improve Management of Crop Pollinators

Project Leaders: Claudio Gratton, Professor, Department of Entomology, and Hannah Gaines Day, Assistant Scientist, Department of Entomology
Duration: Three years

Successful production of Wisconsin’s most important fruit and vegetable crops depends on pollination by bees. Historically, growers have relied on rental hives of commercial honey bees; however decreases in availability and increases in rental costs have left growers questioning the future of pollination for their crops. Thankfully, approximately 400 species of native wild bees are present in Wisconsin, many of which have been documented pollinating crops – potentially helping meet pollination demands in many areas. However, our knowledge of wild bee abundance is limited to a handful of farms in the state, due to the logistical constraints of surveying bees over large geographic areas. This has limited our ability to provide the pollination management recommendations that growers seek. To address this shortfall, we propose to develop and implement a citizen science-based sampling program using a web/mobile-based application platform to collect data on farm-level wild bee communities. Engaging growers to collect data on their farms will eventually enable us to develop improved models that aid growers in making pollination management decisions, including whether honey bee rental is necessary, while simultaneously improving grower awareness of the importance of wild bees in their respective agroecosystems. Completion of this project will accomplish all of the key objectives of the Baldwin Wisconsin Idea by strengthening partnerships between researchers and growers, addressing a key challenge of fruit and vegetable crop production on Wisconsin farms, and fostering grower education regarding sustainable management of our diverse and important wild bee communities through an innovative and novel citizen-science project.

UniverCity Year Across Wisconsin

Project Leaders: Gavin Luter, UniverCity Alliance Director, and Kelly Rupp, Associate Administrative Program Specialist, Nelson Institute
Duration: Three years

The UniverCity Year program collaborates with local governments in Wisconsin to develop practical solutions to complex, local problems: housing, transportation, food systems, economic development, health, social services, and more. Matching UW courses with locally-defined priorities, UniverCity Year creates value for local governments by applying the vast resources of the UW directly to challenging local problems. In our second full year operating, we have standardized our partnerships to three years: the first devoted to selecting the city, understanding its needs and proposals, matching available courses, and negotiating scopes of work; the second year for producing the deliverables through faculty and student work; the third year for implementation and technical assistance. While we have made great progress in connecting the university to communities, we have identified several areas where we can be more focused, effective, and innovative. Baldwin funding will support new UniverCity work in those areas: enhancing our scoping process, developing the implementation and evaluation framework, and promoting program expansion to reach new communities farther from Madison. UniverCity Year builds on but goes beyond conventional service learning in taking the community partner as the client, formalizing the value transferred to it, and providing a focused and multi-year framework for engagement. This funding will support further refinement of the UniverCity model as a key innovation in the Wisconsin Idea.