Denise Moreno Ramírez, Community Outreach Coordinator for the University of Arizona Superfund Research Program (UA SRP) and Dean Carter Binational Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and Sarah Wilkinson, UA SRP Research Translation Coordinator, recently attended the “2011 Community Involvement Training Conference” hosted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The July conference was held in Arlington, VA, with the theme "Community Involvement in the 21st Century: Embracing Diversity, Expanding Engagement, Utilizing Technology.” The purpose of the conference was to bring together EPA and its federal, state, tribal, and local partners with an interest in environmental community involvement.
Ms. Moreno Ramírez was selected as a speaker for the “Superfund Monday” agenda. She and two coordinators from other National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)-sponsored SRPs spoke on “Community Engagement Opportunities within the NIEHS Superfund Research Program.” Ms. Moreno Ramírez provided an overview of the community engagement activities performed by the UA SRP. She led a lively group discussion to identify barriers to collaborations between US EPA Community Involvement Coordinators and SRPs, and to brainstorm strategies for overcoming such barriers and engaging in successful collaborations that benefit communities affected by environmental issues.
A highlight of the conference was a canoeing field trip on the Anacostia River, guided by the Anacostia Watershed Society, who provided information on native plants and wildlife and clean-up efforts in the area. Ms. Moreno Ramírez and Dr. Wilkinson also participated in a variety of other sessions related to improving the effectiveness of community engagement.