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Community Engaged Internship Project

Expanding the Network of Real-Time Water Level Sensors across the PeeDee River Basin

Location: Francis Marion University, Florence, S.C.

Primary Supervisor: Jeff Steinmetz, Francis Marion University

Sea Grant Contact: Katie Finegan

Background and Commitments

A student intern will support the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association-sponsored project positioning water level sensors in the Pee Dee area. The intern, with guidance from mentors, will seek out communities who would be interested in having a water level sensor installed, work with the community to identify locations for the future installations and provide education about water level monitoring to the community. The intern would keep track of all communities they interacted with and their resulting interest, allowing for a record of efforts since this project is a multi-year effort.

The intern will focus outreach efforts on communities in the Pee Dee River Basin which will contribute to the wider statewide network of water level sensors by specifically engaging with underrepresented and vulnerable populations to connect them with the tools, data, and understanding of their own unique flooding risks. The internship is part time (15-20 hours per week). The intern will work closely with the FMU faculty and be expected to participate in biweekly check in meetings with Sea Grant staff. While some initial contact work can likely be done remotely, it is intended for this intern to visit the communities in person.

If COVID developments end up as barrier, indoor meetings will become prohibited, and zoom meetings and outdoor meetings with community representatives and mentors will be allowed. PPE will be provided to the intern.

S.C. Sea Grant and Francis Marion University are committed to ensuring a safe and welcoming environment for employees of all backgrounds, cultures, identities, and abilities. We will provide accessibility support as needed. Please see our DEI Vision, Values, and Strategies page for more information.

Francis Marion University has a new Freshwater Ecology Center and other programs that are focused on understanding the hydrologically complex Pee Dee Region which is important to understanding South Carolina’s coast and ocean. This intern will be primarily led by a Francis Marion University professor; therefore, directly embedded in the target region. Many communities in the Pee Dee region have been historically underserved with low-to-moderate income, predominantly African and Native Americans situated in the floodplain. Having the intern target their interactions in these communities and others like it in the Pee Dee Region will strengthen the local knowledge base for understanding flooding.

Time Commitment

15 hours per week for 10 weeks, between May 10th and August 12, 2022.

Stipend- $2,250 (additional funds may be provided for travel).

Learning Outcomes and Outputs

Learning outcome #1 – A deeper understanding of the importance of water levels in determining community flooding from weather events or sea level rise and how understanding the flood risks empowers communities to adapt.

Learning outcome #2 – Experience in developing meaningful engagement with underserved/underrepresented communities.

Learning output #1 – Best practices on communicating sensitive science information to communities with various backgrounds on understanding. What do communities respond well to and what gives communities cause for concern?

Learning output #2 – Summary of communities that were contacted and where that interaction ended (ie. needs follow up, successful, unsuccessful). List and thoroughly document confirmed and potential water level sensor sites.