OSKALOOSA — William Penn University and Indian Hills Community College waded into Green Iowa AmeriCorps summer positions and will be working with the City of Oskaloosa Public Works Department, the Mahaska County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and William Penn University (WPU) during the next three months.

This collaboration will focus its efforts on collecting data, building public awareness, and strengthening relationships between different entities of the city, county, and community to improve soil and water quality.

Muchakinock Creek Watershed Project Coordinator Meleia Shelman, Oskaloosa Public Works Director Akhilesh Pal, and WPU Career Services Coordinator developed a plan of work and prioritized work items. The main goals for the summer are stream and ditch assessment, along with stormwater inlet and outlet data.

The group also hopes to label some of the storm drains. Pal went into more depth in stating the specifics of the summer projects, “Members are expected to survey the water bodies (creeks, streams, open channels, and intakes) using GPS devices. Our goal for this summer is the collection of stream erosion information in various locations throughout the City."

“Stormwater in the City of Oskaloosa drains towards the South Skunk and Muchakinock Creeks. The streams and other tributaries feeding into the creeks are in various stages of erosion, and we will use the data collected to create a plan to help with erosion concerns throughout the city. Addressing this erosion will both protect land use within the city and improve water quality in the area," Pal said. "We also plan to have the Green Iowa AmeriCorps members assist with identification of ditch flows within the city limits, create public outreach programs for residents to improve the water quality in the city, and marking storm drain outlets to improve public awareness of where storm sewer inlets drain.”

Shelman, stated, “I am hoping that in the process of working on the partnership’s priority projects the members get to experience many different aspects of working with urban and rural Land and Water projects.”

Shelman and Pal first found out about the Green Iowa Partnership opportunity when attending the Iowa Water Conference in March of 2018. When talking with Debbie Stevens, they realized it would be a good fit for all the organizations involved.

“This partnership of Mahaska County Soil & Water Conservation District, City of Oskaloosa, William Penn University, and Green Iowa, AmeriCorps is a great example of local, state and federal agency’s working together for a common goal,” said Shelman.

The group is excited about the work they will be doing this summer. It will allow the students to gain a plethora of experience and provide the city with the necessary information for the future.

Stevens said the experience students can gain is the main reason for WPU’s participation in this project.

“One of our goals at William Penn is to expand authentic experiences in the work world for our students. The Green Iowa AmeriCorps Program targets a number of skillsets students can develop, as well as assisting our own community,” she said.

Pal said, “The City of Oskaloosa is excited about this opportunity to partner with Green Iowa AmeriCorps, WPU, and the local SWCD. We believe this is a valuable opportunity for the City to complete projects which may otherwise be delayed or not be completed, and to explore the resources and opportunities that are available to improve stormwater at different scales.”

For more information about this program, please contact Madison Lantz, Marketing and Education Outreach summer member, at MadisonLantz@wmpenn.edu, or Debbie Stevens, Host Site Director, at StevensDe@wmpenn.edu or 641-673-2173.

This press release was sent to the Herald.