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Class Notes 2013

 Class Schedule



Assignments Due


(before registering for the class)

10 project ideas

Aug 28

Course Planning.  Time accounting.  Projects.

3 project ideas (with clients)

Sept 4

How to write a proposal, how to search for sources

Outline of your proposal

Sept 9

10-minute Background Presentations

Feedback for presenters

Sept 16

Bibliography due

20-30 references

Sept 23

Annotated Bibliography

~10 reviews of sources

Sept 30

Resume, Cover Letter, Interview

3 copies of resume, cover letter

Oct 7

First Drafts of Proposals

due noon 10/3, reviews due 10/7

Oct 16

Skills: writing

Samples from your proposals

Oct 21

Final Proposals

Written proposals

Oct 28

Course Planning and Improvement

Anonymous feedback

Nov 4

No class


Nov 11

Workplace skills, Progress Reports

find resources to share

Nov 18

Review draft final reports

Reports, reviews

Nov 25

Thanksgiving break


Dec 2

Final presentations

Feedback for presenters

Dec 13

Project Reports due

Final Reports

Grading scheme

The majority of your grade will be based on your projects:  25% for oral presentations (5% for the Intro and 20% on the Final) and 40% for written reports or other products.  The project proposals are 15% and the remaining 20% is for other assignments such as time and effort accounting, feedback for presenters, and preparing for skill sessions if needed. 

Late assignments will be discounted at the rate of 10%/day.  Assignments required for class participation will be worth 0% after the day we needed them.

Wednesday, August 28


Ally:  Environmental Studies from Binghamton, worked on brand innovation and marketing this summer, digital strategist and community manager.  Wants to help companies become more sustainable.

Hilary:  Currently working full-time for a small consulting firm, EA Engineering, Clarkson, part-time student here.

Tyler:  Undergrad here in NRM.  Came in thinking about entymology, now moving towards policy and public administration.  Doing a joint degree with Maxwell.

3 Project Ideas


  1. For ESF (Newman and Wagner), how to sell firewood from college properties
  2. For Paige Trucking, CEO wants to know what to do with old trucks and trailers
  3. For O’Brien and Gere, greenhouse gas accounting, or working for one of their clients

What’s the best fit, in terms of building your portfolio?  #2 best client situation

Where do you want a job offer?  Not in Syracuse, but in NYC area.

Which contact person is the most available to you?  The Sustainability person at O’Brien and Gere.


The Lafarge Ravena cement plant is one of EA’s clients.  Cement dust in stormwater is in excedance of the requirements.  The environmental people there think that there are suspended solids coming in from off site at one of their outfalls.  It would reduce their costs if they could show that this wasn’t their fault.  Need to research the policies to see if it’s true that it’s not their responsibility to clean it up.  Also conceptual site model development, land uses, watersheds, map this in GIS.  Field work: YSI meter, turbidity along the stream, erosion and sedimentation.  Need to think about timing.  Could be preliminary to a future contract.  Next step: Site walk, with people who know the site.  Then deciding sampling techniques.

Previous plan was to look at Pb from firing ranges at Camp Smith, a military base on the Hudson River, hotspot delineation in the tidal marsh.  But Camp Smith didn’t want the information to be public.  Too sensitive for this semester.


  1. Pete Wilcoxen, Save the Rain program, Onondaga County.  Hedonic pricing model for the program.  Uses natural resources management, GIS, statistics.  Continues a project that doesn’t have funding and has momentum (need to make presentations on schedule).  Good for getting a job in local or regional government.
  2. Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District.  Mike Berger is the Director, he will ask about projects, because they are understaffed.  Opportunities with Skaneateles, field work.
  3. NRCS office in Syracuse, Kim Farrell.  The use Earth Team Volunteers on lots of projects, set up with mentors in the office.  These take time to set up.  Could be worth doing even if it doesn’t happen this semester.

Course Planning

What about searching for sources?  Ally uses Jstor.  Hillary had one class with a librarian.  Tyler: the remote access is more difficult now. 

Interview skills, bring in a resume.  “Glass Door” is a web site where people share interview questions.

Time Sheets

Does anyone know a smart way to create the dates without typing each one?  If so, let us know.

Does Joanna count her hours from her summer internship, which was with the same client?  We weren’t sure, but we know that she should aim for something significant (about 100 hours) during the current semester.  She can think about how to report the data in her final report to her client.

Adding time:  Make sure it works for you!

Something funny happens when they get translated into Google docs.

Guidelines for Time Sheets

Time entries are in rows, with the most recent at the bottom.

Columns are for categories of tasks, grouped into more general categories.  Examples include: communications, background reading, field work, writing the proposal.  Overhead (not directly related to your project) would include class work like reviewing each other’s proposals or preparing your background presentation.

Show gridlines (if printed), freeze header panes, color optional (especially if printed).

The week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday.

Add a table with weekly project totals.

Time sheets will be due on Monday for the preceding week.

August 28: What’s in a Proposal?

Sept 9:  Introductory Presentations 

Check in on project reports, and searching for information (literature and other sources)

Check in on timesheets.

What belongs in the presentation?  For your final presentation, your audience is the client (and the class).  For your introductory presentation, it’s just us.

September 18: Bibliography assignments

Hilary: field visit postponed to tomorrow, because both of the environmental coordinators will be there.  Paul is about to retire, Sarah is new.  Paul is the technical person, Sarah is the policy person.

Tyler met with Pete Wilcoxen who has another project that would take longer than this semester.

Madison Quinn from Save the Rain doesn’t have the data for evaluating costs; Wilcoxen has them and she didn’t know that…  Developing the database would be the first step.

Mark Berger at the Onondaga County SWCD gave him data for a project.  Onondaga Environmental Institute monitored Onondaga Creek last year, and found areas of P loading and low O2.  SWCD wants to identify the sources of P, using GIS, and follow up with field visits.  They can provide technical and financial assistance.  This project has a good mix of field work, contact with stakeholders, and they are giving him a desk to work there on Fridays.

Jessie from Cornell Coop Ext described the situation with emerald ash borer.  State and federal regulations affect city and county removal of trees, but there is no mechanism for communicating this.  Thursdays with Jessie for a stakeholder analysis! 

Ally did a site visit and met with Piper Titus, the CEO of Page Trucking (family owned business).  They have about 30 acres with a warehouse, 20 minutes away from their office.  They have an environmental assessment for the property.  This is a place they could dismantle old trucks, store the parts, and sell them.  They need a business plan to see if this is worth investing in.  Ally can do multiple scenarios for the sustainable recycling process.  Piper is confident of the market demand. 

By Wednesday, tell us:  Where did you look, what search terms did you try, what worked and what didn't?

20-30 references (we don't expect that all will be useful).  We changed this date to get Sam moving on his proposal (he forgot that we were going to review it today).


Tyler:  from SU library, database searches, water quality, BMPs, agriculture, P, nutrient loading.  Lots of journal articles, especially CSO and Tully mud boils. 

Try for Onondaga Creek.  For the general processes of stream impairment and remediation, where should he look?  You probably want to read the regulations.

BMPs, manure management, stock in waterways.

Rural poverty.  Challenges to adoption by smallholders.

Hillary:  NYS DEC web page, EPA web site, Google Scholar you can see at least parts of each document.  Total suspended solids, water quality, storm water.

Ally used Google Scholar initially, from off campus.  She found a lot of material, but it wasn’t as useful as she thought at first glance.  She needs to check with Piper whether “remanufactured” is relevant or only “used”. 

Remanufacturing truck parts recycling Clean Air Act

September 25: Annotated Bibliography


Ally likes EasyBib.  It’s free.  It can usually find a journal article based on a title; you don’t have to type in citations.

Tyler uses RefWorks, which will automatically format your in-text citations and your bibliography at the end.

Word may provide some of these features now.  Let us know if you learn how.

Annotated bibliographies

The references you cite might not be the ones where you found the information.  Choose sources to cite with your audience in mind.

Sometimes it’s worth annotating bad sources if it will help you remember why not to use them.

Hillary has good info on TSS and methods and needs more on the policies.

Ally will still be researching options as part of her project.  What regulations will apply if Paige Trucking goes into this new area?  Ally’s proposal might give background to justify the need for a business plan.  Scope yet to be decided: should they consider shredding as well as dismantling?

Project updates

Hillary did her site walk.  Methods will involve going out with a probe, which will give results faster than rebar or tile.  She will also be testing measurements of flocculation.

Sept 30:  Resume, Cover Letter, Interviews

Weds Oct 9:  Draft Proposals

 Proposals will be distributed by Sunday night, Oct 6.

Meeting time 3 p.m., 4 if Ruth has Presidential Search meeting at 3.

Ally reviews Hillary reviews Tyler reviews Ally.

Oct 16: Writing

Hilary is waiting for it to rain. 

Tyler did a hot-spot analysis, delineating watersheds in GIS.  It turns out that they have been sampling at only one point in the upper part of the watershed, so it’s not possible to determine from those data where the problems are coming from.  He will focus on the lower part of the watershed where there are more data.

Ally looked into the Clean Air Act and how it applies to diesel engines.  Tyler is going to help with an analysis of net present value. 

Smith and Brown:  Paragraph breaks are good.  Shorter sentences.  Avoid unnecessary words and phrases. 

Oct 21:  Proposals

Hilary is waiting for it to rain.  It’s okay if she has to drive out there a few times before she gets a sample.  This week, she has a co-worker who is planning to be there anyway.  The flocculation testing is easier, just collecting a jar of water to bring back and play with.

Ally is hoping for input from Tyler on her Net Present Value analysis.

Tyler finished with Cornell Coop Extension, on emerald ash borer regulations, in time for them to put out their plan.

(How do we account for multiple projects in this course?)

Oct 28: Mid-Semester Feedback for Improvement

On Monday, we will have a session devoted to Course Planning and Improvement

Type your answers to the following questions and print them out.  On Monday, we will pass them around in class and your feedback will be read anonymously by another student.  You can write them by hand as long as we can read your handwriting.

  1. Below is a list of the activities in the course so far.  Please indicate which you found most useful, somewhat useful, or not useful.  Give specific suggestions for improvement if you have any.
  2. Assignments

Ten project ideas: useful, very useful, useful.  to refine ideas and determine what projects were feasible.

Introductions (presentations): useful, very useful.  get to know each other.

Three project ideas: somewhat useful, useful, further refine project ideas.

Bibliography (initial search): somewhat useful, useful.  used only a fraction of the sources, mainly for introduction and methods. 

Could focus sooner on fewer sources.  Depends on the topic!

Annotated bibliography: somewhat, somewhat useful.  Not entirely useful for the project.  I spent a lot of time reading articles that I ended up not using for my project.

Ten was a lot; focusing on fewer might be a better use of time.  3-5?

Draft proposal: useful, somewhat useful.  Nice to have a draft deadline before the proposal was due.

Reviews of draft proposals: useful, useful: good to see others, good to get feedback.

Revised (final) proposal: useful, revising, doesn’t need a class.  Not planning to share this with the client.  But helpful for preparing the final product.  Some of the project is already done!

Format could be more flexible than the grading rubric. 

In the real world, multiple proposals would be submitted to a client, who would pick one. This is different, because we’re developing it interactively with the client.  Maybe we should call it something other than a proposal.  A work plan?

  1. Skill sessions

How to write a proposal: somewhat useful, somewhat useful.  We could have gone through examples.  The most relevant are on the class google drive.

Resume and Interview: useful, useful.  Nice to get feedback on formats.

Writing: not useful, somewhat useful.  the materials and activity were helpful.

  1. Future activities: Please indicate which topics interest you of those we've had in the past, or suggest new topics.

Are there other topics you would like us to organize for a class session?

Organizational skills for the workplace.  Time management, meetings…

Memorization tricks?

Depends on personal preferences.

  1. Assignments

Do you have suggestions to improve any of the the following?

Draft Reports:  Upload in advance and exchange reviews

Reviews of Draft Reports:

Final Presentations.  Yes, invite anyone you like, clients, advisors, friends.

Final Reports

  1. Other

Do you have other suggestions for content or process that could improve the course, this year or in the future?

Feedback on Proposals


Some more writing issues

Send these to your clients and let us know how they are received

Nov 11

Project Reports

Hilary got some rain!  On Thursday.  She got out there in time for the start of the rain event, and got water from four settling ponds to test her flocculants.  Two ponds were not sampled; one had just been built, and one was by the landfill where the leachate pump wasn’t working.  As for Outfall 14, the tributary wasn’t flowing.  The conceptual site model will still be useful to them.  It could be better for the company if they get a contract to follow up later.

Tyler: starting to wrap things up at Soil and Water.  He delineated the subwatersheds for the sampling locations reported as polluted by the Onondaga Environmental Institute.  It’s not obvious that the problems are coming from agriculture; there are developments that could be contributing fertilizer or septic systems, and the previous sampling was in a low flow year.  The farms in the area are already maxed out on the aid they can get for pollution control.  The success of the country programs is based on the money spent, not on the water quality outcomes.  Farmers are sensitive because they don’t want to be more regulated.

Tyler is working in another class on improving communication and collaboration among these players.

Ally is working on the Net Present Value analysis, which requires cost estimates.  David Newman is consulting; the finance professor will also contribute.  What’s the hardest part?  Containing the scope of the project.  The client is making new suggestions. 

Organizational Skills for the Workplace

Hilary was given two books when she started her job.  One was Choosing Civility.  She brough us Life After School.  Explained.  It has cartoons!  The book is divided into seminars. 

  1. Dinner etiquette.
  2. Love your money.  Checking, savings, stocks and mutual funds.  Loans, repayment, credit cards.
  3. Getting your apartment.
  4. Day 1.  Work attire, health insurance, savings plans.
  5. Taxes.
  6. Moving, cars, engagement rings.

published by Cap and Compass.  A good gift for younger cousins.

Ally found articles at a website called careerealism.  She likes this website and follows them on LinkedIn.  Resumes, cover letters, things in the workplace.  Search resources for jobs.

7 time-wasters at work. 

  1. Social media: 24% waste an hour a day
  2. Email: easy to get distracted, minimize the time on the stuff you don’t need
  3. Office chit-chat. 
  4. Coffee breaks, smoking breaks. 
  5. Viral videos.
  6. Mobile phones.
  7. Reading pointless web articles.

Tyler:  The county blocks access to time wasters, but if they block access to news articles, this limits productivity.

5 effective work habits for fresh graduates

  1. Volunteer for assignments, without overcommitting and failing.  “underpromise and overdeliver”
  2. Be nice to people.  Get to know people in your workplace.
  3. Prioritize your work.
  4. Stay positive.  The new environment takes getting used to.  (office politics)
  5. Highlight a problem, but bring solutions (i.e. don’t complain).

Other tips:

Unplug the router.

Have a friend change your facebook password for the day.

Some people need quiet.  Some need noise. 

Use your best time of day. 

Very Rough Draft Reports

Hilary reviews Ally reviews Tyler reviews Hilary.

Distribute on Monday, meet on Wednesday.  Make notes and we’ll discuss in class (no written review delivered to me).

Nov 20 Rough Drafts

Should Hilary remove one of her objectives from her final report?

Should Tyler report on the problems in outcomes for the county?

How should Ally revise her objectives and methods to match her new products?

Hillary:  Finished floc testing!  TSS next.  Calculating how much they would have to purchase to actually use it might be smart; cost could be prohibitive.

Hillary (reviewed by Tyler)

Table of Contents

Flow.  Sentences, transitions.

Do tables and figures belong embedded in the text?  Don’t feel obligated if it’s difficult, but since this is your final product and it won’t be formatted by a publisher, anything you do to put materials in the right place will help your readers.

Ally realized that she can’t do the market analysis that the client needs to decide whether to go forward with the business.  This requires information for predicting the market size.  Census data might be used to identify truckers as potential customers, but these are are available only for 2007 (2012 will be available in February.  So she took out the part about forecasting whether they should go forward with this.  She is recommending that they get someone to do a feasibility study for them.

I didn’t write any notes about Tyler’s report; he’s in good shape!  Oh, he has to update his objectives because he generated products that he didn’t originally plan for (like everyone else).

Final Presentations

Plan on speaking for only 10-15 minutes, so we have time to ask you questions and give written feedback.