2015 Community Involvement Training Conference


The 2015 Community Involvement Training Conference began on Tuesday morning, August 4, 2015, and adjourned on Thursday, August 6, at 5:30 p.m. The training conference theme was Making a Visible Difference in Communities. Sessions were organized by the following tracks:

  • Track 1 — Where to Begin: Creating and Maintaining Effective Community Involvement
  • Track 2 — The Art of Leveraging Existing Capacity and Resources in Community Involvement
  • Track 3 — Healthy Environment & Healthy Economy = A Sustainable Community
  • Track 4 — Communication & Community Engagement: Traditional Methods to Contemporary Technologies

Conference Booklet

The conference booklet included the agenda and summarized conference activities and events and included an abstract for all conference sessions (90-minute information and training sessions of 3-, 4-, and 7-hours). In keeping with our Green Meeting goals, we did not print and distribute copies of the conference booklet. Rather, the booklet was distributed via email, posted as a downloadable file and available to review at the conference desk.

2015 Community Involvement Training Conference booklet (PDF)(28 pp, 5.3 MB, About PDF)

Presentation Information

Search for 2015 Conference Presentations
Session Title Track Presenters
Session Title Track Presenters

Eco Café

This year, an Eco Café area was offered instead of a formal poster session. The Eco Café provided participants with a hands-on opportunity to learn from experts about different community involvement tools and resources. Abstracts for the 2015 Eco Café stations are provided below.

Risk Communication: Promoting the Positives of Safe Fish Consumption
Michelle Bruneau, Michigan Department of Community Health

Michigan has been working over the last four years to completely revise their risk communication strategy surrounding fish consumption from local waterbodies. This Eco Café station will highlight best practices and the methods used to develop these practices.

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Citizens Advisory Board Takes Active Role in Cleanup of Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Site
Pete Osborne, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management; Alfreda Cook and Jan Lyons, Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board is a federally appointed citizens' panel that provides independent advice and recommendations to the U.S. Department of Energy on its environmental cleanup program in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The board takes an active role in environmental issues and long-term stewardship of contaminated areas. It also has a multi-dimensional public outreach program that focuses on informing the public about cleanup issues. The conference station display will show attendees what can be done using a multi-platform approach to outreach that includes television, print, web, and public presentations, as well as an exhibit at the American Museum of Science and Energy that employs touch-screen monitor programs, posters, and displays to tell the cleanup story.

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EPA/STAR Cumulative Risk Assessment Research
Maggie Breville, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Center for Environmental Research

Multiple aspects of the environment in which we live, learn, work, and play impact our health. However, it is the general practice of governmental agencies/policymakers responsible for protecting public health and the environment to focus on one factor at a time, or more specifically, on one environmental contaminant at a time. For example, EPA traditionally has used the risk assessment paradigm to assess exposures and risks to single chemicals. Addressing multiple exposures to chemical and nonchemical stressors and cumulative risks and impacts in environmental decisions has long been a challenge for risk assessment and has concerned communities and environmental justice organizations. Under a 2009 request for applications, EPA's National Center for Environmental Research (NCER), under its Science To Achieve Results (STAR) program, awarded seven grants to fund cumulative human health risk assessment research on how the combination of harmful factors affect human health, including poor and underserved communities with extensive pollution problems. Many of the grant recipients have partenered with local community-based organizations to optimize community input and enhance information dissemination.

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Resources for Facilitated Community Involvement
Mary Apostolico, Lee-Ann Tracy, and Steve Garon, SRA International; D.G. Mawn, National Association for Community Mediation

This Eco Café station will provide information on a variety of resources for community involvement, including facilitation, training/capacity building, and conflict resolution services. When agency staff or community members recognize the need for support to maximize the potential for meaningful community input, they might not know what resources are available. This station will function as a clearinghouse to provide information on available resources, the types of services each resource provides, and how to access each resource.

Community involvement resources will include but not be limited to:

  • The U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution (U.S. IECR) National Roster of Environmental Conflict Resolution Professionals
  • The EPA Conflict Prevention and Resolution Services Contract (CPRC)
  • The Technical Assistance for Superfund Communities Contract (TASC)
  • EPA Community Involvement University (CIU)
  • EPA Public Participation Guide
  • The National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM)
  • Red Lodge Clearinghouse
The aim of this station is to empower agency staff and community members alike by informing them about what help is available and how it can be obtained.

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EPA CUPP Program
Michael Burns, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4; Denise Freeman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4 (Detailed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); William Ellis, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4 (detailed from the National Park Service)

The College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP) provides a creative approach to partnering and delivering technical assistance to small underserved communities from local colleges and universities at no cost to the communities. By leveraging existing EPA partnerships with colleges and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the program combines environmental justice concerns and mission-related objectives of multiple agencies with core curriculum objectives of local colleges and universities.

Communities benefit from the investment of innovative technical assistance and approaches provided by top students attending academic institutions in the Southeast. Students benefit by utilizing their learned curriculum to gain practical experience that can serve as a resume builder, while earning course credit(s) through their academic institution. Federal agencies benefit from the interagency collaboration by seeing an improvement in the effective and efficient use of resources. This Eco Café station will enable the CUPP program to reach out to conference participants about the work they are doing.

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Making a Visible Difference in America's Communities
Lorry Frigerio, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Sustainable Communities

Environmental and public health impacts affect people most significantly where they live – at the community level. EPA is focused on providing better support to communities, especially in environmentally overburdened, underserved, and economically distressed areas where the needs are greatest. We are coordinating technical assistance and other resources across EPA programs, with States, Tribes, and local governments, and with other federal agencies to support communities as they pursue environmental improvements that enhance economic opportunity and quality of life. While we will continue to work in thousands of communities, we have identified more than 50 communities where we will focus action in the next two years. This work will be informed by a dialogue on the environmental and public health issues that matter most to these communities. Lessons learned through this work will be used to improve and leverage the support we provide to all communities in the future.

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Strategic Characterization and Identification of Stakeholders and Stakeholder Communities for Sustainable Decision Making
Kate Mulvaney, Marylin ten Brink, and Mike Nye, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development

Throughout decisionmaking processes in local communities, the value of the integration of stakeholders for model development, visioning, scenario development, and more is being increasingly recognized. What remains less clear is who the stakeholders could be for a process, and how to identify what communities are facing in terms of socio-ecological capacity and environmental challenges in their quests for sustainability. Our Eco Café station highlights the work of two research efforts: 1) a strategic identification of stakeholders; and 2) a sustainable community typology.

  1. Strategic Identification of Stakeholders: This work seeks to understand who the possible stakeholder organizations are for a decisionmaking process, and which of those organizations are most critical for engagement throughout the process. Identifying the appropriate stakeholders is critical, as omitting possible participants can ostracize community members or decisionmakers, and it can also negatively impact the availability of localized insights for a project. This is a mixed methods research effort that integrates insights from community partners with content analysis, interest-influence matrices, and network analysis.
  2. Sustainable Community Typology: The typology work provides insights about individual communities in terms of socio-economic capacity, environmental stress, and sustainability efforts. This information is useful for EPA and its partners who seek a better understanding of communities at a regional or national scope, or to better understand a specific community within the context of its sustainability efforts and social and environmental stressors. This work is the result of complementary quantitative and qualitative analyses that provide critical insights into sustainability challenges for communities.

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Is Fracking Good for Bad for the Environment?: An Educational Debate
Bryan "Ibrahim" Goodwin, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Organized debating events hosted by federal agencies can promote public awareness and engagement on controversial issues. The Agency provides the topic and forum, and nationally ranked intercollegiate debate teams research and present the arguments, both pro and con. The strength of their arguments is rated by the listening public. The format and the lack of bias of the debate teams are inherently trustworthy, entertaining the audience while also encouraging open-minded attention and inspiring action that comes from understanding.

Debate teams from Boston College and The University of Mary Washington debated the topic: "Resolved: Hydraulic Fracking of Natural Gas is Harmful to the Environment" at the 2013 Community Involvement Conference. This "thinking outside the box" approach about how to communicate scientific/technical concepts in an understandable way (e.g., communicating risk about contaminated groundwater, treatment technologies and processes) will be revisited as an informational and educational tool for public meetings and outreach.

This information session will present our experience with introducing and using debates as a new and innovative method to inform and educate the public. This includes describing the process for setting up a debate and sharing best practices and protocols we developed to assist others in organizing debates of their own. We will share the experience of debates organized for the April 2008 EPA Earth Day Debates, the April 2009 National Beach Conference, and the August 2009 Community Involvement Training Conference. We also will have a post-debate discussion using Science, Democracy, and Fracking: A Guide for Community Residents and Policy Makers Facing Decisions over Hydraulic Fracturing, a toolkit published by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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Ideas to Incorporate Citizen Science into Ongoing EPA Programs
Bryan "Ibrahim" Goodwin, U.S. Environmental protection Agency

"Citizen science" is a term used to describe a wide range of activities and ideas that allow for public engagement in scientific discourse and efforts with professional scientists. Anyone who voluntarily contributes his or her time and resources toward scientific research could be considered a citizen scientist.

Citizen science could play an important role in EPA generally and the Office of Water (OW) specifically. EPA could benefit from engaging a wide variety of organizations that are involved in citizen monitoring projects, including but not limited to nonprofit groups, state agencies, resource conservation districts, local government agencies, and colleges and universities. EPA also can play an important role in the promotion of citizen science by providing technical assistance and guidance documents, equipment purchases and loans, and outreach and communication support with the development of "apps" and modeling tools.

The water quality of our nation's waters is a key concern for OW. Citizen science/volunteer monitoring can be a valuable aid in meeting national water program goals such as timely water quality standards (WQS) triennial reviews, reducing harmful algal blooms, and providing fish tissue samples for selenium research. OW also can benefit from citizens serving as water quality ambassadors and the many social media crowdsourcing tools that help educate and engage the public to improve and protect water quality. Other benefits include citizen science-provided water quality, geo-referenced, and advanced/remote monitoring data that can all be uploaded with the use of "apps" that EPA develops and shares with the public.

In a nutshell, this training session makes the case for an expansion of the role of citizen science as a public engagement tool and a potential solution to the lack of WQS data and information. A continuing series of projects that are focused on OW program needs that engage America's citizenry can radically transform the knowledge base and the way EPA can help support citizen science/volunteer monitoring efforts.

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Online Environmental Resources for Community Leaders and Members
Una Song, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Stop by to provide feedback on EPA's recently launched "Community Resources" webpage, a one-stop directory for local government officials and community members seeking to address today's complex environmental challenges at the local level. EPA is helping communities more effectively access key tools and resources by making them easily accessible through a single page. In addition, EPA is developing a "Green Infrastructure Wizard (GIWiz)" tool which is designed to help communities, local and regional planners, and regulatory officials locate the green infrastructure tools, information resources, and case studies located in many places across the Agency. This information can be difficult for users to navigate and obtain specific sets of information. The GIWiz will be featured on EPA's Community Resources webpage.

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Technical Assistance Services for Communities
Freya Margand and Tina Conley, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation

Technical Assistance Services for Communities (TASC) is a national EPA program that provides technical assistance services to communities. To support healthy communities and strengthen environmental protection, EPA works closely with communities to make sure they have the technical help they need. Sometimes a community may need more help to fully understand local environmental issues and participate in decisionmaking. The purpose of the TASC program is to meet this need.

The TASC program supplies communities with technical help so they can better understand the science, regulations, and policies of environmental issues and EPA actions. TASC services support community efforts to get more involved and work productively with EPA to address environmental issues. TASC services are provided at no cost to communities.

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Using Qualitative Research to Improve Communication about Fish Consumption Advisories in North Carolina and Virginia
Kathleen Gray, University of North Carolina Superfund Research Program; Gretchen Kroeger, Duke University Superfund Research Program

The University of North Carolina's (UNC) and Duke University's Superfund Research Programs (SRPs), while conducting fish consumption advisory research and outreach in Virginia and North Carolina, respectively, have collaborated and informed each other's quantitative and qualitative research efforts and community involvement strategies. This collaboration has strengthened each program's research and community involvement individually, while also creating the infrastructure for jointly scaling up this work to engage fishing communities in North Carolina more broadly.

UNC SRP, working closely with community stakeholders, developed educational material about existing fish consumption advisories on mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls in central North Carolina. They piloted the material with angler interviews and a focus group with Spanish-speaking residents. These interviews and the focus group assessed the effectiveness of the material in increasing knowledge of fish advisories and intent to avoid contaminated fish, seeking feedback to improve the material, as well as understand the most effective community-based strategies for disseminating fish advisory information.

With the support of state agencies and the Elizabeth River Project (ERP), Duke SRP developed and administered an angler survey tailored for those fishing within the Elizabeth River watershed. The survey gathered data on the fish caught and consumed within the watershed, the preparation of fish consumed, and angler knowledge of existing fish consumption advisories. Collected data are being shared with stakeholder partners such as ERP, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Health, local health departments, and fishing communities.

The groundwork completed by both the Duke and UNC SRPs has paved the way for further collaboration within the state of North Carolina.

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Superfund Web and OneEPA
Richard Hammond, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The approaching switch to the new "One EPA" website is a signifcant change for EPA staff. This demonstration/training will introduce the CIC community to the new website and our responsibilities for updating and maintaining site content.

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Modular Bathrooms on the Tohono O'odham Nation
Myrtle McIntyre, Tohono O'odham Utility Authority; Cathie Frazier, Indian Health Service

Our Eco Café station will showcase the collaborative efforts that have resulted in the installation of modular bathrooms for homes on the Tohono O'odham Nation. It is estimated that at least 150 homes within the Tohono O'odham Nation lack basic sanitation facilities. The typical home in this situation has no indoor plumbing and uses an outside spigot for water supply and a pit privy (outhouse) for wastewater disposal. Ideally, these homes, which are usually older homes, would be replaced with new homes, but until housing replacement is possible, an interim measure to provide some basic level of service has been established through a modular bathroom program. The Tohono O'odham Utility Authority has established the cooperative modular bathroom program in an effort to address the lack of basic sanitation that exists among homes on the Tohono O'odham Nation. The goal of the program is to ensure that all tribal homes have, at a minimum, a flushing toilet along with hand-washing and bathing facilities that are easily accessible. The modular bathroom program is a collaborative effort between the Tohono O'odham Utility Authority, the Indian Health Service, USDA Rural Development, U.S. EPA, and contractors involved in the construction of modular bathrooms and associated sanitation facilities (i.e., water connection and septic system/sewer connection).

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Sue Casteel, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

The poster will have outreach materials developed for SoilSHOP events. It also will have pictures taken during past SoilSHOP events.

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Technical Assistance and Community Involvement on the Navajo Nation
Viola Cooper, Secody Hubbard, and Amanda Pease, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9; Krissy-Russell Hedstrom and Blair Stone Schneider, Skeo Solutions

This table will provide participants with an introduction to community involvement and community engagement activities on Navajo Nation lands. This will include an introduction to and background information on the legacy of uranium contamination on Navajo Nation, and EPA's experiences working with multiple communities throughout the Nation. Individual projects detailed will include:

  1. Community involvement at the Northeast Church Rock Superfund site.
  2. Community involvement at the Cameron Mines Superfund site.
  3. Envisioning and implementing a Navajo Nation-wide Technical Assistance Needs Assessment (TANA).

Using these projects as examples, participants will be introduced to best practices/lessons learned while working on Navajo Nation sites that can be applied to creating and/or maintaining effective community involvement at any project/site. Lessons learned will include:

  1. Getting the right players to the table at the outset of community involvement can save time in the long run.
  2. Determining the correct procedure for introducing yourself to the community will increase your chances of success.
  3. Maintaining a consistent presence over time, and keeping the stakeholders well-informed about events and activities, will show the community that you are committed to the work and to them.
  4. Listening to and incorporating community needs into your action plan will prove that the community's voice has been heard.
  5. Providing job training when needed can increase community involvement and spread information about site activities and events.

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Children's Environmental Health
Wayne Garfinkel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4

Environmental hazards are among the top health concerns many parents have for their children. EPA's children's environmental health program focuses on addressing threats to children's health, from air pollution that can exacerbate asthma to toxic chemicals that can lead to serious health problems. This station has publications, curriculums, and other tools and EPA resources that can be used by parents, teachers, and community leaders to help protect children from environmental hazards at home, at school, and at play. Parents, teachers, and community leaders can and should play a vital role in learning about the particular environmental hazards their children face in their own communities, and then use that knowledge to make informed decisions that protect their children and prevent environmental health problems.

One of the tools that will be available is a curriculum that EPA developed on Children's Environmental Health, Recipes for a Healthy Kids and a Healthy Environment. This nine-lesson curriculum was developed to empower kids to take steps in their everyday lives to improve the environment for their community, reduce their environmental risks, and lay the groundwork for the next generation of environmental health advocates.

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Tools for Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution
Shawn Grindstaff, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center (CPRC) will host a station titled "Tools for Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution." The station will feature visual and written materials about some key tools being used across the country to address complex community environmental challenges. The key tools featured are various applications and examples success-focused methods, dialogue, and collaborative systems of adaptive management. Small presentations and statements by agency mediators and community panelists will highlight stories of hope and success using these tools. Special emphasis will be placed on actual community experiences with each approach.

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4th Grade Stewardship Project
Erna Waterman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8; Marian Hubbard-Rice, Salt Lake County

This program starts with an introductory session describing how and why the local environment has changed and continues to change. The school district where the program was presented is located near two remediated Superfund sites, one of which was located in an area where Native Americans once lived.

The second focus of the program incorporates learning about stormwater and nonpoint source pollution. We create a "storm" and discuss our climate and recent climate changes. Then, we discuss how little fresh water exists in our world and utilize a simple hands-on exercise to relay this fact.

The third key aspect of this program incorporates making "urban stew." This is essentially a model for showing how everyday activities create non-point source pollution, which is transported into the waterbody via stormwater. Students greatly enjoy this hands-on activity!

The session concludes by allowing the students and the participants to "create" a vision of what they learned or just have a little fun making recycled art!

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Engaging Port Communities to Effectively Address Air Quality
Connie Ruth and Sabrina Johnson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The relationship between ports and near-port communities can be complex. While ports support local economies through job creation and business development, ports also can create potential challenges for near-port communities that are disproportionately impacted by port operations and related transportation systems. These include emissions from ships, barges, and tugs, as well as emissions from dock-side sources such as loading equipment, short-haul trucks, and railroad engines.

In response to significant input we received through listening sessions, EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality is developing strategies and tools to build the capacity of near-port communities to effectively participate in port decisions that impact their environment and quality of life.

This session will engage participants by sharing recently developed interactive capacity building materials that include flexible content for community members to better understand how ports work and the impact of port activities on air quality. We will welcome input on the materials presented.

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Tools for Understanding the Superfund Radiation Risk Assessment Process: Toolkit and Video
Stuart Walker, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Superfund Remediation and Technology Innovation

The Superfund remedial program has developed two tools to facilitate public involvement at radioactively contaminated Superfund sites. This session will help participants understand what information is contained in these tools to better empower communities to make meaningful input into the risk assessment process at radioactively contaminated Superfund sites.

The first is the publication Superfund Radiation Risk Assessment: A Community Toolkit. This toolkit is a collection of 22 fact sheets that help the general public understand more about EPA's risk assessment process used at radioactively contaminated CERCLA sites. It also provides brief overviews of EPA's risk assessment calculators, and provides information regarding radionuclides that are commonly found at Superfund sites. The common radionuclides fact sheets answer questions such as:

  • How can a person be exposed to the radionuclide?
  • How can it affect human health?
  • How does it enter and leave the body?
  • What levels of exposure result in harmful effects?
  • What recommendations has EPA made to protect human health from the radionuclide?

The second is a video entitled Superfund Radiation Risk Assessment and How You Can Help, an Overview. This 19-minute video describes the Superfund risk assessment process for radioactive contamination, including what it is, how it works, and most importantly, how members of the public can be involved.

Both tools may be found at this website:

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Environmental Justice Academy: Strengthening Community Leaders from Within
Daphne Wilson and Sheryl Good, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4; Shawn Grindstaff, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7

The purpose of the Environmental Justice (EJ) Academy is to promote EJ and sustainability by educating leaders from communities facing environmental injustices. The program will provide participants with skills necessary to articulate the concerns of their community; advocate for their needs; work collaboratively to address environmental, social, and economic concerns; and successfully achieve their communities' goals. The EJ Academy will provide essential skills to participants, such as developing non-traditional partnerships, understanding environmental laws and regulations, environmental sustainability, data collection and analysis, conducting community assessments, conflict resolution, and program/project evaluation. The EJ Academy was developed and structured so that the program can be replicated in communities throughout Region 4 or across the nation. The concept is based on the components of the highly successful EPA Collaborative Problem Solving Model and incorporated the appreciative inquiry approach. It aligns with the Agency's 2014-2018 Strategic Goal of "working toward a sustainable future" and the following overarching EJ goals identified in the EJ 2020 Action Agenda:

  • Protect the health and environment of overburdened communities.
  • Support communities to take action to improve their own health and environment.
  • Build partnerships to achieve healthy and sustainable communities.

It also supports the ORD recommendations on "working toward a sustainable future."

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Structured Decision-Making as a Method for Linking Quantitative Decision Support to Community Fundamental Objectives
Richard Fulford, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development

Decision support intended to improve ecosystem sustainability requires that we link stakeholder priorities directly to quantitative tools and measures of desired outcomes. Actions at the community level can impact the production and delivery of ecosystem services that benefit humans. It is a significant challenge to effectively engage stakeholders and communicate these impacts in a useful manner. A formal approach, Structured Decision Making (SDM), can be used to integrate ecosystem science and decision science into the same cohesive framework. The SDM approach involves stakeholder engagement to identify fundamental objectives, means objectives and a means-ends network. All three are derived from review of strategic planning documents and stakeholder responses to structured discussions and questions. Fundamental objectives represent the base desires of the community and can be used to structure measures of sustainability and human wellbeing. Means objectives are intermediary actions that lead to achieving the fundamental objectives so can be used to delineate decision alternatives. The means-ends network is a conceptual model linking actions to ecosystem service outcomes and represents a framework for parameterizing quantitative forecast models. We used SDM methods for engaging nine coastal communities and elicited information on community fundamental objectives and used this information to develop potential performance measures for achieving these objectives. This information supports implementation of SDM in specific communities and also provides information on common decision themes for comparison among communities. The SDM approach allows us to consider the ecosystem services that are most valued by stakeholders and to develop alternatives and measures of success that support those services. Stakeholder engagement throughout the process ensures a higher level of understanding and acceptance, which leads to a higher potential for success in guiding community decisions towards sustainable outcomes.

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The South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Conservation Blueprint 2.0
Louise Vaughn, North Carolina Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

The South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (South Atlantic LCC) is a partnership of federal, state, nonprofit, and private organizations dedicated to conserving a landscape capable of sustaining the nation's natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. The mission of the South Atlantic LCC is to create a shared blueprint for landscape conservation actions that sustains natural and cultural resources and promotes collaboration and communication across diverse organizations. The South Atlantic LCC has developed two online mapping platforms to help cooperative members use the Blueprint: the Conservation Planning Atlas and the Simple Viewer. The Conservation Planning Atlas is a science-based mapping platform that allows users to access publically available spatial data, perform basic analyses, and create maps. The Simple Viewer is a custom interface that allows users to explore the Conservation Blueprint, the indicators used to develop the Blueprint, and a small suite of ancillary data sets summarized at a sub-watershed level. The South Atlantic LCC developed and refined these mapping platforms through in-depth interviews with Blueprint users and paper prototyping techniques borrowed from the software development field. This multi-disciplinary approach has increased engagement and awareness among stakeholders–a vital step in collaborative conservation—as well as increased the accessibility of the Conservation Blueprint, which practitioners already are implementing to inform regional effort and investment.

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Leveraging Technical and Financial Resources for Community Sustainability
Marsha Minter, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Michael German, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; LaTosha Brown, Grantmakers for Southern Progress; Joyce Stanley, U.S. Department of the Interior; Curtis Flakes, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Stephanie Madson, Federal Emergency Management Agency

A diverse group of EPA and other Agency partners and stakeholders will share some best practices on leveraging technical and financial resources to achieve community sustainability. The focus of the session is how to meaningfully "make a visible difference in communities" through working with various groups to educate, share, and encourage leveraging of technical and financial resources available from foundations, nonprofits, and federal agencies by:

  • Increasing their knowledge in understanding what is available for the participant's use;
  • Identifying where to access the resources and how to network effectively; and
  • Sharing how these resources can be used as a benefit towards community sustainability.

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Communicating Risk to the Public
Laura Williams, Environmental Stewardship Concepts, LLC

Environmental Stewardship Concepts, LLC, highlights six case studies from our current client projects, reviewing some of the challenges faced in communicating complex topics in support of a well-informed public. Specific examples are used to demonstrate some of the best practices learned from working with the public. Challenges include efficient and clear summaries of large amounts of data, explanation of terminologies, visual/spatial considerations, addressing cultural concerns, dispelling assumptions through facts, etc. Ultimately, we need to assure we are treating the public with respect, openness, and compassion, as they are a vital partner in the decision-making process.

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C-FERST: Making a Visible Difference Engaging Communities in Citizen Science
Sheryl Stohs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10; James Quackenboss, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development

In this Eco Café presentation, we will introduce the Community Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST), which is a cutting-edge environmental information and mapping tool developed by the U.S. EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD), National Exposure Risk Laboratory (NERL). We will conduct a live demonstration of the tool, showing how EPA Region 10 is "making a visible difference in communities" with state/academic partners and community-based stakeholders using C-FERST to identify, prioritize, and solve environmental justice, risk, and exposure concerns at the local level. As a community involvement and engagement tool, C-FERST has been used in Region 10 to assess concerns and work toward developing collaborative responses to community-identified issues such as childre's health, advocacy for vulnerable and houseless/homeless communities, contaminated areas, food justice, and community-based participatory research. Our goal is to demonstrate practical experience using EPA science tools, opportunities for partnerships and networks that can be sustained by developing best practices for meaningful community involvement, education, advocacy, and capacity building in the community setting.

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Integrated Planning to Improve Quality of Life in Proctor Creek
Cynthia Edwards, Constance Alexander, Neil Burns, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4; Darryl Haddock, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance; Tony Torrence, Community Improvement Association, Inc.; Susan Rutherford, City of Atlanta Office of Watershed Management

We are using integrated planning to improve quality of life in the Proctor Creek Community. Residents are seeking the same protection others are enjoying. Proctor Creek has been designated as one of 19 Urban Waters Federal Partnership in the U.S. They receive funding from a EPA Community Wide Brownfields Assessment Grant that includes Proctor Creek as a targeted Brownfields Area. USEPA is on the ground working with the residents and the locally led Stewardship council and the community to build local stewardship and give residents a voice. Residents in the community want to be involved and iincluded in discussions and decisions about what happens in their watershed and they are interested in ownership of what happens in their watershed. We are working to support them by partnering with local, state and federal agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations, coporations, local universities and the private sector to draw attention to the neighborhood concerns/issues and bring in resources to address them. Our own Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal center lies within Proctor Creek Watershed. Rainwater that falls in this area, picks up debris, checmicals, dirt and other pollutants as it washes through the watershed and drains them into Proctor Creek through a Combied Sewer Ovrflow. Everyone is engaging with the community to help improve the quality of water and life in Proctor Creek by connecting residents to their watershed.

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PROTECT: Multisectorial Collaborations to Promote Community Involvement in Environmental Health Research
Liza Anzalota, Carmen Milagros Vélez, and Colleen Murphy, University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus

Puerto Rico has the highest rate of preterm births (PTBs) among all United States jurisdictions and the highest density per square mile of Superfund sites. PROTECT seeks to identify environmental risk factors associated with PTBs, including phthalates and other endocrine disruptors. A cohort of 1,800 pregnant women residing in the northern region of Puerto Rico will be recruited and followed to their completion of pregnancy. Recruitment began in 2011 and a total of 950 pregnant women have been recruited through July 2015. Biological samples are collected from each subject three times during pregnancy and at birth. Medical and pregnancy history, demographic variables, dietary patterns, psychosocial factors, and self-reported environmental exposures also are collected. Participation rate in PROTECT is at 86% and attrition is currently 8%. This success reflects strong community engagement and is a result of the partnership with March of Dimes, the affiliated clinics and hospitals with the PROTECT research staff. Through ongoing interactions with study participants and partners, a plan has been developed to report back individual health data to participants. A collaboration with the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, Silent Spring Institute, and environmental advocacy groups in Puerto Rico was established and will share study findings with the community that will result in a plan to reduce relevant exposures. This process is expected to empower individuals, healthcare professionals, and community members to enhance environmental health awareness and practice. PROTECT's Eco Café station will demonstrate these efforts and share insights on our community involvement activities.

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Mobilizing Communities for Action: Creating a Network that Works!
Tracy Washington Enger, Lashon Blakely, and Heidi LeSane, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Moving communities from being informed to taking action is a critical step in achieving environmental change and getting results. This Eco Café station is designed to introduce participants to a dynamic style of community engagement that advances diverse stakeholders toward collectively achieving transformative environmental results. This station will demonstrate how the U.S. EPA Indoor Environments Division's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program convened a highly-leveraged, cross-functional network of school leaders known as the School Health and Indoor Environments Leadership Development (SHIELD) Network to address critical environmental health issues in schools. Visitors will have an opportunity to design actual action-learning events to convene with community stakeholders and explore proven methods for engaging communities, securing commitments and moving into action.

Green Meeting Policy

EPA Green Meetings and Conferences Policy, May 1, 2007

The mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. We expect that all Agency meetings and conferences will be staged using as many environmentally preferable measures as possible. Environmentally preferable means products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose.

As in past years, we strived to make the Community Involvement Training Conference more earth-friendly. Some of the things we did to reduce the environmental impact of the conference included:

  • Selecting a hotel that instituted numerous energy and water efficiency projects, recycling and waste reduction initiatives, and measures to reduce the use of harsh cleaning products. For more on the hotel’s environmental initiatives visit: Exit EPA Disclaimer
  • Reducing printed conference documents by distributing documents electronically/online and minimizing handouts during the conference.
  • Using only conference folders and necessary handouts printed on high post-consumer recycled content paper using vegetable-based ink.
  • Recycling name-badge holders.
  • Held our traditional "Tote-Bag Exchange" instead of procuring new tote bags for conference participants.
  • Encouraging conference participants to use public transportation or share rides when traveling between the airport and the hotel. If just 100 people shared rides to and from the airport, we will have reduced the conference's carbon footprint by more than 1,000 pounds!

To reduce our impact, conference participants helped reach this goal by:

  • Bringing a reusable drinking container for water or coffee.
  • Bringing new or gently-used tote-bags to use or to trade at the "Tote-Bag Exchange" to carry conference materials.
  • Taking only materials and food needed to minimize waste and looked for recycling bins around the hotel for recyclable materials.
  • Recycling name badge holders at the registration desk.
  • Sharing a ride back to the airport with other conference participants.

Conference Contacts

Holly Wilson
EPA Office of Air and Radiation
Co-Chair for the 2015 CITC
Phone: 919-541-5624

Lena (Vickey) Epps-Price
EPA Office of Air & Radiation
Co-Chair for the 2015 CITC
Phone: 919-541-5573

L'Tonya Spencer
U.S. EPA Region 4
Host Region Co-Chair for the 2015 CITC
Phone: 404-562-8463

Jasmin Muriel
EPA Office of Environmental Justice
Assistant Co-Chair for the 2015 CITC
Phone: 202-564-4287

Laura Knudsen
EPA Office of Solid Waste & Emergency Response
Advisor for the 2015 CITC
Phone: 703-603-8861

Catherine Sims
Environmental Management Support, Inc.
Community Involvement Conference Coordinator
Phone: 301-589-5318, ext. 23

If you have any questions or comments about this website, please contact Catherine Sims.