Thursday, Apr. 3, 2014 6:40 pm

Grinnell, iowa - Grinnell College Senior Tayler Chicoine ’14 is one of 196 students from across the country—and only five in Iowa—to be recognized this year as a Newman Civic Fellow. She and the other Iowa recipients will be honored at a ceremony in Des Moines on June 6.

Chicoine is the first Grinnell student ever chosen for this award, which was established in 2011 to recognize student leaders who are finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

Chicoine was honored for her work in bringing people together to improve area watersheds.

A biology major from Des Moines, Iowa, Chicoine has been a leader at Grinnell in efforts to improve the environment, both through her academic work and out of the classroom.

As part of a Mentored Advanced Project with Doug Caulkins, professor emeritus of anthropology at Grinnell, Chicoine designed and conducted a community survey on watershed awareness. The survey showed that most members of the local community didn’t know where their water came from and were unaware of problems in their local water supply. Following the survey, Chicoine spoke about watersheds to children in elementary school classrooms, presented information about water quality issues to various civic organizations, and, with the support of IOWATER, founded and trained a group of students to regularly test and monitor various sites in local watersheds. The coalitions that Chicoine has built among different organizations—including the Boy Scouts, the local high school, community foundations, the city government and college students—will continue even after her graduation this year.

“I learned to translate my own biological background into common knowledge and to help people care about a watershed that, before they knew its name, was an unimportant landscape,” said Chicoine.

In addition to being a fulltime student, Chicoine currently works at IOWATER, Iowa’s citizen-volunteer water monitoring program, through Grinnell College’s Federal Community Service Work-Study Program.

Newman Civic Fellows are nominated by their college presidents. In nominating Chicoine, Grinnell College President Raynard Kington said, “Tayler is a natural change agent. [Her] multidisciplinary approach to problem solving, teaching, and mentoring is spectacular and, with a wisdom I have not often seen in students her age, she is going to be unstoppable.”

Presented by Campus Compact—a national coalition of 1,100 college and university presidents committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education—the Newman Civic Fellowships are designed to honor and support the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders.