The following points
address attributes of projects that are important for a successful
project in the UW-REN capstone program.
Project Size | Project Installation Timing | Site Preparation Needs | Project Resources
Probability for Long-Term Success | Educational Objectives
The project must be small in scope (< 1 acre) or be able to
be done in multi-year phases (with UW-REN student teams in subsequent
years tackling other sections of a larger site). Much of this
also depends upon the complexity of the project involved and the
availability of resources (human and machine). If human resources
(volunteer or paid) and mechanized means (if needed) are available
then larger projects can be considered. Past student teams have
been successful in creating overall designs for larger sites while
actually only implementing a small section themselves. The remainder
of the implementation can be accomplished by the client or subsequent
student teams in future years. If the project involves extensive
weed management issues, complex plantings, etc., this will decrease
the size of project our students could tackle.
Project installation timing
Because of the sequencing of the academic year, our projects must
be installed (planted) in the period from late winter to spring
(March to early June). In some circumstances this can be a less
optimal choice for planting than fall, but the academic sequencing
constrains us to spring planting at this point. This may increase
the necessity of the client and/or associates to be involved in
significant maintenance through the subsequent summer. Thus, the
maintenance and monitoring plan developed by the student team
will likely include a critical component of immediate maintenance.
The student team will work with the client to identify and develop
likely means for this to be accomplished (by the client and/or
associates; the student team will not be involved following the
end of the academic year – usually the second week of June).
Site Preparation Needs
Projects must be tenable relative to the needs for site preparation.
Some situations with exotic weeds require a year or more of treatment
prior to planting. Any topographic alterations (earthmoving, excavation,
grading, etc.) should be complete. UWREN capstone faculty can
advise potential clients in this regard during a site review visit
scheduled after an RFP is submitted. Should it be determined that
more extensive site preparation is necessary for a successful
project, capstone faculty can advise clients and place the project
under consideration in a subsequent year.
The UWREN program does not have dedicated internal resources to
accomplish these projects. Our student teams have been creative
and successful in working with clients to secure plants and materials
in situations where clients do not have sufficient resources to
accomplish a project as per the student team’s design. However,
the extent to which student teams may be able to accomplish that
is limited by the short time frames and educational objectives.
Thus, strong preference will be given to projects where the client
has a reasonable resource base to obtain plants and other necessary
material for the project.
Probability for long-term success
We give strong preference to projects that have the greatest probability
for long-term success. Projects with a high probability of long-term
failure because of conditions like continued disturbance, high
likelihood of neglect, upstream or adjacent populations of noxious
weeds are not favored. Projects with no obvious support for long-term
maintenance (e.g., client, community group, school group, etc.)
that our students can develop are not favored. Some students have
set up programs with nearby community groups or schools, so long
term maintenance does not necessarily have to be done solely by
the client, but there must be some prospects for long term care
of the site.
As a fundamentally educational endeavor, it is absolutely critical
that the student team be given the leeway to develop a reasonable
design that works within the client’s needs and ecological
constraints of the site. This project is not simply an installation
based strictly upon a preconceived plan, though in the past some
student teams have developed specific plans within the umbrella
of a general site management plan. The client and faculty play
critical oversight roles in making sure that the student team’s
plan meets client and ecological objectives. However, the client
must be willing to let the design be done by the student group
(with guidance and feedback from instructors and the client).
Both the client and the student team must be willing to maintain
a dialogue of respect and consideration toward proposed ideas
and concerns. Projects that involve the installation of an existing
design or maintenance of a previous installation are not appropriate
for the UWREN capstone.
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