In recognition of their extraordinary community outreach initiatives, four APLU member institutions have been selected as regional recipients of the 2018 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award. As regional winners, Ball State University, University of Florida, Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech will represent and compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award – which will be announced Sunday, November 11 during the APLU Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. In this second of a four-part series, APLU spotlights the University of Florida’s Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities initiative.
The University of Florida’s Healthy Gulf, Healthy Communities (HGHC) project worked to address human health effects resulting from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in Gulf Coast communities throughout Alabama and Florida. Active from 2010 to 2017, the project combined community-based research, laboratory research, and community outreach efforts. The project helped ameliorate the psychological impacts of the oil spill, build community resiliency, and address contamination of local seafood.
Heavily dependent on tourism and fishing, the oil spill threatened to wreak havoc on affected communities – which were among the region’s poorest before the spill. Partnering with community stakeholders, the university determined unmet community needs and developed research initiatives that led to useful programs for residents.
Researchers also followed 260 residents for five years, tracking the psychological effects of the oil spill and publishing recommendations for future relief efforts – focusing on financial literacy and strengthening of community-based programs to address substance abuse. Another set of researchers examined the role of social networks in disaster recovery with the aim of improving post-disaster recovery programs.
Learn more about the other 2018 C. Peter Magrath Award Winner finalists.