Growing Wisconsin’s Capacity as a Global Water Leader

Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin 2021 Performance Report

Thanks to the State Legislature’s investment in the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin, the 13 UW Schools are poised to recruit more undergraduate students from Wisconsin and beyond and to provide them with advanced coursework, hands-on research and in-field experience, and internship opportunities that will make them attractive to employers. New and enhanced curriculum and training programs will prepare students to address the state’s grand water challenges and to meet Wisconsin’s workforce needs. With your investment, Wisconsin will be ready to lead the nation in water-related science, technology and economic growth.

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Collaborative Highlights

  • 42 proposals were submitted for the current biennial’s funding allocation, focusing on student experiences, course development collaborative research, and career development.
  • 55 grants have been funded at 13 UW campuses since 2019.
  • 44 undergraduates were employed by FCW grants, conducting research into critical areas such as
    • Management of agricultural runoff, such as phosphorus and commonly used pesticides
    • Microplastics and their effect on food webs and water treatment infrastructure
    • Surface and well water sampling and analysis
  • 14 high school students participated in a pilot summer program that introduced them to water science programs on four UW campuses.
  • Two new courses were developed, providing an introductory freshwater science class and a course in water pollution.
  • One cross-campus freshwater certificate was developed.

“Without initial funding from WEDC and UWS, we never could have gotten the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin off the ground. Now, with funding from the Joint Finance Committee, we will be able to build upon pilot projects and invest in new programs that will reach all corners of the state. Sustained investment will grow Wisconsin’s capacity as a global water leader.”

— Marissa Jablonski, Executive Director, Freshwater Collaborative

Impact on Students and Industry

Peyton Maki from UW-Stout

“By participating in this internship, I think I have largely increased my skill for both field and lab work, as well as learned my passion for the work I have done this summer. It has let me get a better understanding of some of the tasks I will need to solve and work in for a future job.”

— Peyton Maki, environmental science major at UW-Stout, participant in summer undergraduate research program offered through UW Oshkosh and funded by FCW

Emma Johnson and Maddy Knauff measure groundwater properties a UW Eau Claire well field.
Emma Johnson and Maddy Knauff measure groundwater properties

“Water is such an important resource that we are always going to need to maintain. There’s always going to be jobs in that area. I had a lot of new opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to have experienced without taking this course.”

— Emma Johnson, senior at Memorial High School, participant in FCW pilot summer program hosted at UW-Eau Claire, UW Oshkosh, UW-River Falls & UW-Stout

“As a member of the UW Milwaukee Alumni community and a professional working in the field of freshwater policy, I have witnessed first-hand the benefits of prioritizing water education and cultivating that across the state. Nearly every week my work overlaps with a UW System graduate working in the field across all sectors. I can only imagine how much more powerful the teaching and learning will become if we are able to network among the schools around the state to pool resources and expand expertise for the students and the ultimately the end beneficiaries, the people of Wisconsin.”

— Todd Brennan, Senior Policy Manager, Alliance for the Great Lakes