Spring 2022 Sustainability Fellow: Lauren Thornberg

Lauren Intro Slide

Partner: Florida Springs Institute

Project: Citizen Science Data Collection and Advocacy

Student: Lauren Thornberg, First Year Graduate Student in Urban and Regional Planning

In Spring 2022, Lauren worked with the Florida Springs Institute (FSI) to develop an ArcGIS Story Map educating the public about Wakulla Springs and the citizen science initiatives occurring at the Wakulla Springs system.

Lauren collaborated with Haley Moody, Outreach Director, and other members of the FSI team. FSI is a nonprofit headquartered in High Springs, Florida, and its SpringsWatch program monitors eleven different spring systems across the state.

The main goals of Lauren’s project were to (1) showcase the significance of Wakulla Springs, (2) explain threats to the springs system, (3) highlight FSI’s initiatives to protect the springs, and (4) educate the public on how to help protect the springs.

In order to compile information for her Story Map, Lauren visited two springs, Wakulla Springs and Jackson Blue Springs, and worked with the SpringsWatch teams to conduct water quality tests and learn more about the SpringsWatch process. She also compiled GIS data using information from the Florida Geographic Data Library.

Lauren’s completed ArcGIS Story Map met the goals of the project through a series of interactive maps, photos from Lauren’s field visits, and a call to action with a link to help people become involved as volunteers.

One challenge that Lauren faced was figure out how to express scientific information to the general public in a way that would be easy to understand. To that end, her ArcGIS Story Map included simple explanations of scientific concepts such as pH, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, and other terms along with images to help explain how the springs were monitored.

“I’m someone who doesn’t have a science background, and a large part of urban planning is taking really complex ideas and trying to present them to a general public that doesn’t have the same understanding of the technical details,” said Lauren. “While the Florida Springs Institute does not directly have a stake in urban planning, the built environment has a huge impact on the water quality of the springs. Working with the Institute really helped me further solidify my knowledge of what I’m trying to protect.”

Lauren’s project partners were very appreciative of her work and praised her ability to compile large amounts of information into a single Story Map, especially through graphics and maps.

“I think Lauren did a great job of digging into what is special about Wakulla and some of the challenges it’s facing right now,” said Haley. “How Lauren was able to integrate the information we threw at her, understand it, and then present it in a way that other people can understand – kudos to her because you wouldn’t know that she didn’t come from a science background by looking at the Story Map!”

To view Lauren’s ArcGIS Story Map, visit storymaps.arcgis.com.

To learn more about the Sustainability Fellows program, visit sustainablecampus.fsu.edu/sustainability-fellows