Healthy Rivers for All: December 2017 retreat

Bill Dennison ·
22 January 2018
   1 comments

Group photo of Healthy Rivers for All team.
Group photo of Healthy Rivers for All team.

We held a two-day retreat with our WWF colleagues at Horn Point Laboratory in December 2017. This gathering was somewhat melancholy because it was our last retreat with Simon Costanzo and Karin Krchnak. Simon is no longer based in the US, having moved back to Australia. Karin left WWF in early January 2018 to join the World Bank as the Manager of the 2030 Water Resources Group.

The major focus of our retreat involved developing a training handbook to accompany the Practitioner’s Guide to Developing River Basin Report Cards. It is designed to give our partners the tools to conduct Report Card workshops. We emulated the Science Communication Handbook that we developed for in person science communication training sessions. The training handbook will be accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation and include a suite of interactive exercises.

Heath Kelsey and Michele Thieme discussing the training handbook storyboard.
Heath Kelsey and Michele Thieme discussing the training handbook storyboard.

During this workshop, we also:

  • Filmed a session of our team playing the ‘Get the Grade’ report card game in order to produce a short YouTube introductory video.
  • Discussed ways to develop private sector engagement and reviewed a marketing/fund raising brochure for the Healthy Rivers for All initiative.
  • Discussed the development of ‘Step 6,’ which refers to the raising the grade phase that follows the development and release of a report card.
  • Reviewed partnership with Andrea Bassi to develop a system dynamics model for the Bita River, a tributary of the Orinoco River, Colombia.
  • Reviewed our completed project, the Orinoco River report card, and discussed progress on our ongoing projects (Bita River, Colombia; Tuul River, Mongolia; Yangtze River, China; Kafue River, Zambia).
  • Introduced the Healthy Rivers for All team to our new UMCES President Peter Goodwin.

Healthy Rivers for All team after the 'Get the Grade' session.
Healthy Rivers for All team after the ‘Get the Grade’ session.

In developing the training handbook, we wrote a brief description of our partnership: Healthy Rivers for All is a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), formed in 2015. We have the goal of creating a river basin health report card for every major river basin in the world. We view river basin report cards as key to effective management of river basins, providing a scientifically robust, transparent means of tracking basin health. We love to produce river basin report cards and help others to produce report cards. We want to use science to make the world a better place. And we want to have some fun along the way.

In keeping with the final line of the description, I wrote the following poem about our retreat.

UMCES President Peter Goodwin addressing the Healthy Rivers for All team.
UMCES President Peter Goodwin addressing the Healthy Rivers for All team.

An Accompanying Handbook

12 Dec 2017

William C. Dennison

Enjoying each other on the Eastern Shore
Who could ask for anything more?
Healthy Rivers for All is our thing
To insure report cards are on the upswing.

Admiring the printed Practitioner’s Guide
But quickly putting it aside
To create an accompanying handbook
To give our training a brand new look.

Allowing us to tackle new projects
That are increasingly complex
Developing Step 6 in South America
And soon we’ll be heading to Africa.

Sending Simon off in style
So he can pursue an Aussie lifestyle
Sipping bubbly and getting the grade
Even filming a game session well played.

An evening of Margaritaville
Was certainly a thrill
But we are not done yet
On that you can place a bet.

Reflecting on lessons learned
So that we don’t get burned
And then engaging with the private sector
By becoming a better connector.

Meeting the new UMCES Prez
Enjoying the things he says
And then figuring out how to communicate
To allow Healthy Rivers for All to accelerate.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.



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