By Rhonda Schwinabart, Host staff
The Chesapeake Watershed (CHWA) CESU is pleased to announce that we have been renewed for another five-years! The CHWA CESU is one of seventeen (17) regional CESUs in the national network, and like those other regional CESUs, it operates under a five-year cooperative joint venture agreement between federal and research partners. This CHWA CESU agreement, first signed in 2001 and renewed three times- in 2006, 2011 and 2016, came up for a fourth renewal in 2021.
The CESU five-year renewal process involves submission of a package comprised of a host-led self-assessment, a federal managers’ report, and external reviews. The CHWA CESU’s host institution, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science- Appalachian Laboratory, started the renewal process with a self-assessment conducted during the fall of 2020. This self-assessment included a review of project-related data from 2016 to the present and a survey of partners based on questions provided from the National CESU Network office’s official guidance related to student engagement and other issues. The results of the review and survey were used to draft a summary report of findings and submitted to the national office in early February. Of special note, while some CESU networks report struggling to get partner feedback, the CHWA CESU received responses from 100% of partners, which greatly assisted the completion of the self-assessment report. Thank you, CHWA CESU partners!
Once the self-assessment phase was completed, Dr. Dan Filer, CHWA CESU National Park Service Research Coordinator, facilitated the next two phases of the renewal process. He convened the CHWA CESU Federal Managers Committee, which is comprised of the technical and administrative representatives of the federal partner agencies in the CHWA CESU, to draft their assessment report of the CHWA CESU’s operations over the previous five years. Additionally, Dr. Filer identified two external reviewers unaffiliated with the host institution or the CHWA CESU to complete assessments of the network.
Upon completion of the Federal Managers Committee report and the external reviews, the full renewal package was submitted to the national office in early March 2021. From there, the National CESU Council, a committee comprised of representatives from the federal partner agencies that oversees the national CESU network, reviewed the reports in the package and agreed to renew the CHWA CESU agreement for another five years. Once the CHWA CESU receives a copy of the approved renewal package, we will post it to our renewal website.
In the coming months, a new joint venture agreement will be drafted and sent to partners for signature.