Boys and Girls Club members have spent the last few weeks learning about environmental issues and careers in resource sciences through a DNR Summer Youth Employment Initiative with UM-Flint University Outreach.
The third week of the program included two site visits, one to the UM-Flint Urban Alternatives House (UAH) and another to the city of Flint master planning office downtown. Students were welcomed by four UM-Flint professors from the Earth and Resource Sciences department in the classroom space of the UAH on Eddy Street. The Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED)- certified house was converted from a derelict house in the Central Park neighborhood, just east of campus.
Dr. Martin Kaufman told the Boys and Girls Club members about Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which is multi-layered mapping software. Kaufman said that GIS is one of 3 emerging technologies and career paths that will become very important in the next century.
Kaufman was followed by professor of urban planning, Dr. Victoria Morckel. She explained that urban planning involves changing or preserving the physical environment to meet human needs and the needs of growing or shrinking cities.
Dr. Randall Repic, spoke about a career in environmental sciences, explaining that high school students need a solid foundation in the sciences and good grades if they want to pursue a career in environmental science. He said there were jobs in Flint for this profession at private firms including environmental site assessment and remediation companies.
Dr. Richard Hill-Rowley, who spearheaded the house project, took students on a tour of the property. He showed off a geo-thermal heating system, rain gardens, a rain catchment system and porous pavement.
Students then traveled downtown to the old Capitol Theatre to meet with Matthew Williams, an associate planner for the city of Flint. Williams explained the process of mater planning, which looks at future land uses for a community. The young people were able to provide feedback about their concerns and plot on a map where future neighborhoods, business centers and important public facilities should be placed. Williams said the group was among a handful of young people that have participated in the process and said he would take their feedback and include it in considerations for the final plan.