'Stormwater Sleuth' publication wins ASABE award

The 'Stormwater Sleuth' teaches readers about effective stormwater management practices. (Illustration by Ami Sheffield)
The 'Stormwater Sleuth' teaches readers about effective stormwater management practices. (Illustration by Ami Sheffield)

A UNL Extension-produced publication has won the 2014 Educational Blue Ribbon Award from the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

The publication, "Stormwater Sleuth and Running Rain: Keeping It Clean! Slowing It Down!," uses the title characters to teach educators and students about effective stormwater management practices.

Authors recognized by the award include Erin Bauer, associate Extension educator; Kelly Feehan, Extension educator; Katie Pekarek, assistant Extension educator; and David Shelton professor, biological systems engineering and Extension agricultural engineer. The publication's illustrator, Ami Sheffield, was also recognized.

"The crowning achievement has been completing the 'Stormwater Sleuth' publication and getting it into the hands of teachers and youth," Pekarek said. "Receiving this award is very humbling and exciting at the same time. Hopefully, the recognition will help our team to increase the reach of 'Stormwater Sleuth.'"

Pekarek and her co-authors were presented with the award at the ASABE/CSBE Annual International Meeting on July 14 in Montreal.

Stormwater management represents major Extension educational programming opportunities, Pekarek said.

"This publication is one small component in the multifaceted, multi-audience programming needed to address stormwater management issues," she said.

Through the Stormwater Sleuth and Running Rain characters, readers are taught what stormwater is, where it goes and the effects that stormwater has on the quality and quantity of water discharged to nearby bodies of water. Additionally, they learn about concepts associated with stormwater – like the water cycle and rainwater harvesting – and what they can personally do to help reduce the volume of runoff and associated pollutants.

"Effective stormwater management provides environmental, social and economic benefits to local communities," Pekarek said. "When stormwater management is done well, streams, rivers and lakes are cleaner, flood risks are reduced, costs due to flood damage decrease and community quality of life increases."

"Stormwater Sleuth" is available online at http://go.unl.edu/y94p. To learn more about stormwater management, visit http://water.unl.edu/stormwater.

— Mekita Rivas, Natural Resources