Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS)

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The Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) is administered by the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). It is a campus-wide initiative that harnesses the expertise of UMD faculty and the energy and ingenuity of UMD students to help Maryland communities become more environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. PALS is designed to provide innovative, low-cost assistance to local governments while creating real-world problem-solving experiences for University of Maryland graduate and undergraduate students.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 5 of 241
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    Field Analysis for the Prince George’s County Department of Parks & Recreation
    (2023-05) Carbary, Brandon; Rinehard, Geoffrey
    Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) – Prince George’s County is seeking to improve maintenance practices on its sports fields in order to provide safe, agronomically sound play areas for county residents and amateur sports teams. In coordination with the University of Maryland Program for Active Learning and Sustainability (PALS), the county sought to have a “turf inventory” conducted on its “rectangle” (primarily used for soccer, football, and lacrosse) recreational sports fields. This survey involved using the Sports Field Managers Association Playing Condition Index (PCI). The PCI is compiled using data from a number of qualitative and quantitative field parameters including the following: • Primary use, field manager experience, general field maintenance practices, and construction infrastructure (this portion of the rubric was answered by PG Parks) • Species of turfgrass and turfgrass cover • Species of weeds present and weed cover • Visual evaluation of the soil profile to 5-6” • Surface hardness measurements using the Clegg impact hammer. • Soil volumetric moisture content using a Field Scout TDR Moisture Meter. • Compaction levels measured with a Field Scout penetrometer. The primary objective of this survey was to provide PG Parks turfgrass management staff a characterization of the fields with regards to player safety and field conditions related to agronomic practices and field usage. The intention is that the information from this survey will be used soon to allocate maintenance resources to provide safe, high quality playing fields.
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    Micro-Commuter Safety Report and Recommendations
    (2023-04) Callaham, Malik; Guru, Krish; Shumate, Patrice; Turnbull, Owen; Veldurthi, Sravya; Rainsford, TJ
    This report by the iSchool iConsultancy Qualitative Marketing Impact Assessment team was completed in partnership with the University of Maryland Department of Transportation (UM-DOTS). Our specific clients are Marta Woldu, Assistant Director of Sustainability, and Emily Hunter Cosci, Assistant Director for Marketing and Communications. UM-DOTS is in College Park, Maryland, and is responsible for ensuring safe, reliable, and sustainable transportation services to the College Park community. Recently, they launched a safety awareness campaign focused on informing and understanding the demographics, behaviors, and safety habits of students, staff, and faculty who use the micro-commuting options available on campus. This safety effort is particularly important as there has been a rise in micro-commuter-related accidents on and off campus, and UM-DOTS would like to know the factors that are contributing to that increase. This report’s goal is to provide the UM-DOTS with qualitative data and information regarding rider behavior from micro-mobility users and to provide recommendations where possible that contribute to a safer environment for transportation in the College Park community.
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    Exploring Public Access Along the Anacostia River Trail System
    (2023) Abdulrazaq, Sururah; Anderson, Alanna; Dwyer, Maura; Elson, Jona; Haddad, Sarah; Islam, Anonnya; Islam, R. Maisha; Jamero, Samantha; Lee, Jihee; Perez-Rivera, Ashleyann; Prendergast, Caila; Ravert, Megan; Sanford, Mimi; Stiegler, Aaron; Sullivan, William; Thorpe, Casey; Tram, Judy; Walker, Emma; Woods, Kayla; Donahue, Alex
    URSP600: Qualitative Research Methods worked on a PALS project regarding the Anacostia River Trail System. The class partnered with Prince George’s County Planning Department to conduct a sweeping study of the trail system: its physical attributes, users, and history. Upon concluding initial research, the class agreed that their study would focus on potential barriers to trail access amongst Prince George’s County residents. Access refers to general access to the trail versus ADA compliance. The class then conducted various forms of research through demographic, economic, and archival analysis; physical, aural, and participant observations; and interviews and focus groups to better understand these potential barriers. At the end of the semester, the class produced a report with findings that suggest the three most significant barriers to trail access may be lack of awareness, safety concerns, and difficulties with physical access. The department can use this foundational analysis of the trail and its users as they undergo further efforts to improve the Anacostia River Trail System.
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    Wilmer’s Park Inspiration Pop-Up
    (2023) Chelluri, Snikitha; Ding, Daniel; Dzekewong, Leinyuy; Edwards, William; Gaman, Eric; Gradess, Adam; Lunsford, Julia; Nguyen, Polly; Olek, Madeline; Rosas, Adriana; Schultz, Sarah; Soboleva, Maria; Vinkler, Ian; Wondimu, Samara; Yeung, Ka; Donahue-Shipp, Brandon
    In order to contribute to the continuing scenario planning and development of the Wilmer’s Park historical site, students in Professor Brandon Donahue’s Art 427 Advanced Painting: Art and Community apply their course learnings in the form of airbrush application and painting. Students researched the history of Wilmer’s Park, visited the site, met with relevant guests, and Prince George’s County staff familiar with the project. They used these experiences to translate the stories and memories of the park into an archive of 12 x 12 inch airbrush designs. These designs will cover a tent/canopy that will be used for a pop-up appearance at any event associated with Wilmer’s Park. The tent/canopy will serve as an archive of the “revival” of Wilmer’s Park’s legacy.
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    The Connection between Mental Health and Climate Change in Maryland’s Youth Population
    (2023-05) Kosowsky, Jason; Jamison, Erin; Reed, Allison; Richards, Mia; Pearson, Shannah
    Climate change and mental health are two relevant topics in modern society. Climate change affects a variety of constituents both physically and mentally. The correlation between climate change and mental health, specifically for young people, must be examined more closely. There is currently minimal research to establish whether climate change impacts youth mental health in Maryland. What has been established is that climate change is anxiety-inducing. It can cause people to worry about the future and engender feelings of hopelessness. To expand, “People who are experiencing anxiety about climate change (or eco-anxiety) will feel genuine distress that can limit their daily activities and lead to serious depressive and anxious symptoms” (Léger-Goodes, et al. 2022). The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would like to better understand this correlation, and understand connections between young people, climate change, and mental health in Maryland. This capstone project aims to design surveys that apply extensive research about survey methodology and survey question design. This project also offers implementation recommendations if DNR chooses to pursue these surveys. To provide more context, this paper and the surveys focus specifically on the Baltimore area, which experiences natural disaster flooding at much higher rates compared to other locations in Maryland. There are different types of stress-causing natural disasters; this report looks at flooding because it’s common in Maryland areas that border a body of water. Many of our student peers have experienced increased levels of flooding in their towns. Increased flooding levels can cause stress for youth and create long-lasting trauma in their lives. Further, by 2045 Baltimore is projected to face more than a 10-fold increase in the number of tidal floods each year, because of sea level rise alone (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2016).