In 2017, as the end of his original PEER project approached, the PI Dr. Castaño received a competitively awarded PEER Evidence to Action supplement to build on the results of his project and expand its impacts. The goal of the supplement was to improve their field site in the Quebrada Dalí to serve as a living lab for research and environmental education, serving not only scientists and university students but also schoolchildren, scout groups, and community organizations. The specific objectives focused on improving the study site infrastructure by equipping a meeting room and research office, improving walking trails at the site and adding educational signage at interesting view points, and designing teaching units on relevant environmental topics for use with various types of visitors.
Despite serious challenges and delays due to severe floods that hit the area in late 2018, by January 2019 Dr. Castaño reported that almost all the objectives have been achieved. He and his team have equipped a meeting room at the study site with desks, chairs, a projector and screen, and lockers for use by visiting researchers. A research office was also set up for use by scientists and students working at the site. Three walking trails have been cleaned up and equipped with specially designed signs at a total of 16 observation points, educating visitors on features of interest and their relevance to environmental themes:
- Trail 1 - Mirador de los humedales (Wetland Lookout), 5 observation points
- Trail 2 - El Duende (The Elf), 5 observation points
- Trail 3 - El Rio (The River), 6 observations points
The team also created educational units on the topics of risk management, biodiversity, water quality, wetlands conservation, and climate change. They shared them with schoolteachers for their initial feedback, and after improvements were made, the team held five workshops to introduce and evaluate the units. The PI and his group are promoting the Hacienda Lisbrán site through a Web page
, and a video and brochure are being prepared. They also plan at least two more workshops at the study site. One will be with the Faculty Council of the Environmental Sciences School of Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira. The PI expects that they will support the use of the study site for academic purposes and perhaps contribute funding to help sustain the site after the current PEER funding ends. Back to PEER Cycle 2 Grant Recipients