The Professional Science Masters in Environmental Assessment held its Capstone Showcase on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on the Edwards Campus in Overland Park, Kansas. Director of the program, Mark Jakubauskas, moderated the event which was held in the BEST Conference Center, before a crowd of approximately forty people.
The showcase featured presentations by graduates of the PSM program. These public presentations are required in order for students to fullfill their obligations for graduation. Attendees were allowed the opportunity to ask questions of the presenter once each presentation was complete.
The first presenter was Emily Nusz whose topic was "Indications of Contamination within the Elkhorn Watershed by Livestock." Her presentation discussed the effects of agricultural practices on water quality as it related to Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) located in the Elkhorn Watershed in central Nebraska. CAFO's are livestock operations that have 1000 animal units or more. They are responsible for over 300 million tons of untreated manure waste per year. These operations create a huge water pollution hazard. Nusz pointed out that CAFO's account for 99% of beef produced for U.S. consumers each year.
The second presentation was given by Rachael Boothe who had recently returned from a joint EVRN and Council of Athabascan Governments internship in Fort Yukon, Alaska. Boothe's enthusiasm for her recent trip and topic presentation was infectious. Her topic was "The Compost Scale: Microbe's Role in Reducing the Gardening Guessing Game." This presentation focused on Boothe's efforts to help simplify the process for consumers to select the right compost through easier and more understandable labeling on compost packaging.
She stressed that the use of compost was much better than commercial fertilizer. Her research gave the breakdown in numbers for beneficial soil in microbrial communities and their role in composting.
Erin Edwards gave the third presentation which was titled "Impacts of a Densely Populated County on Water Quality in the Elkhorn River Basin (Cuming County, Nebraska)." The topic was discussing the risks and benefits of using biosolids, also known as sludge, generated by wastewater treatment facilities. Each year, nearly 8 million tons of these biosolids are generated by municipal wastewater facilities. A great deal of the byproducts extracted are used as land applications for agricultural use across the country. 60% of biosolids are reused in land application.
During her research, Edwards performed a site assessment of biosolids land application in southeastern Missouri. Edwards topic was a great source of curiosity for both attendees and participants.
Jason Roberts gave his presentation which was titled "Native American Consultation within the NEPA Process: New Challenges Over Landscape." Roberts research focused on the challenges involved with Native American tribal consultation in light of recent changes to the National Register of Historic Places and the inclusion of Traditional Cultural Landscapes as protected properties.
The final presentation was given by Jiali Shao which featured his research topic "EJSCREEN guide for Diesel Health Project." EJSCREEN is an environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides the EPA with a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators. Shao discussed how EJSCREEN can work for an environmental organization. It helps with environmental impact assessments and environmental involvements by providing twelve environmental indicators, 6 demographic indicators and twelve Environmental Justice indexes.
The program was followed by a reception which allowed PSM graduates a final opportunity to greet mentors, staff, faculty members and fellow graduates before they take the next step of using their degree to enrich their lives and find the career that provide them with the opportunity to help the planet and find personal satisfaction at the same time.