Since September, a Clinton School team has been assisting the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) in exploring opportunities to repurpose two large mobile trailers previously used in energy-efficiency education.
The students – Caleb Denton (Booneville, Ark.), Molly Emerson (Astoria, N.Y.), Christopher Ogom (Marsabit, Kenya), Damien Powell (Sparta, Mich.), Samantha Sheffield (Austin, Texas) – have spent the year identifying new uses for the trailers and determining communities that may be served. The group first conducted needs assessment – a systematic process for determining and addressing needs or gaps between current conditions and desired conditions – of the organization itself, ADEQ, as well as the potential communities.
The group has worked closely with project supervisors Audree Miller and Andrea Hopkins, who have an extensive background in environmental outreach and programming.
In the initial talks with ADEQ, the team said a small group of potentials uses for the trailers – which were originally a part of the Weatherization Training Center at UA Pulaski Technical College and the Arkansas Energy Office – continued to come up.
“The four uses that repeatedly came up were using the trailers as an education unit for small businesses to talk about environmental regulation, education units for children, a mobile lab, and a mobile command unit to go out for disaster responses,” Sheffield said.
Those potential uses formed the basis of the questions for the team’s interviews. Between needs assessment and the team’s best practices research, the team interviewed roughly 50 representatives.
“As we started our best practices research, we realized there was not much written information on mobile units,” Sheffield said. “There weren’t many best practices that said ‘here’s what mobile trailers have done before.’ We realized we were going to have to go out and find organizations to interview.”
For the team’s best practices research, the organizations interviewed included the Arkansas Arts Center, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, Arkansas Game and Fish, Carroll County Solid Waste Authority, and the Arkansas Baptist Relief Command Center. The team worked to find different groups that represented each of the four potential uses for ADEQ’s mobile trailers. The interviewees offered a number of unique uses for the mobile units.
“The Arkansas Arts Center, they have a mobile education unit,” Sheffield said. “We found a group of dairy farmers who have a mobile education unit where they actually have two cows on the unit and they do a milking demonstration to teach kids about dairy farming.”
With interviews wrapping up in the coming weeks, the team will compile its findings and submit a proposal to ADEQ in April. The proposal will be a part of a presentation to ADEQ directors.
“This has been a really interesting project to start my Clinton School experience because there is so much data to gather and so much to learn about the environmental needs of the state,” said Sheffield. “Our team is really excited to finally put everything together to present as a proposal that can be used by ADEQ to aid in the protection of the Natural State’s resources.”