Residents in cities and towns across Vermont will soon learn more about protecting the state’s water resources, thanks to a public education initiative led by Green Mountain Water Environment Association and Castleton University’s Content Lab.
Earlier this year, Daniel Hecht, executive director of Green Mountain Water Environment Association (GMWEA), reached out to representatives from each of Vermont’s colleges and universities requesting graphic design assistance to help bring his vision for the Vermont Water-wise Communities Initiative to life. The project – funded by a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program – includes four printed brochures to inform Vermonters about how to avoid polluting the natural waterways. The State of Vermont’s 109 municipal and community wastewater treatment facilities process more than 15 billion gallons of wastewater per year.
Hecht says he received dozens of responses to his request, but the most compelling came from Castleton’s Graphic Design Professor William DeForest, representing the Content Lab. Created in 2018, the Content Lab was designed to pair students with local businesses and non-profits to tell their stories and reach larger audiences for their products and services.
“We didn’t encounter anything that was parallel to that. Students in the Content Lab are emulating a professional organization, where the client comes to them and says ‘Here’s what I want and need,’” Hecht said. “They acted in a professional way, as if they are a for-hire professional service. This provides a good learning experience for students and can’t be taught in the insulation of a classroom.”
GMWEA provided Content Lab students with text and a general vision for the design for the first brochure, which focuses on materials that can clog pipes and wastewater systems. In return, Castleton Content Lab students produced a print-ready brochure that GMWEA will distribute to all 255 of Vermont’s municipalities so it can be shared with every household.
Hecht is looking forward to partnering with the Content Lab to produce the three additional brochures for the Vermont Water-wise Communities Initiative, each addressing different subsets of common water pollutants, including pharmaceutical and personal care products, household chemicals, and pesticides, insecticides and herbicides.
“My experience as a parent and educator allows me to say with confidence that the content lab is an exceptional program,” Hecht said. “It is unique in its ability to provide hands-on learning in a professional context while also giving society the benefits of its structure and the students’ talent, hard work, and idealism.”
About Green Mountain Water Environment Association Founded in 1993, Green Mountain Water Environment Association is a Montpelier, Vermont-based nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting awareness of drinking water, wastewater, and storm water issues and supporting the professionals who work to protect Vermont’s water resources.