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Education and Outreach

Education and Outreach at CIRA is designed to support the research performed at CIRA, improve the visibility of CIRA research and researchers to the University, within NOAA, and to the community, and to inspire the next generation of research scientists. To support these goals, programs administered by the Education and Outreach (E&O) program are organized along four tiers of involvement, all of which are targeted to a specific audience, and are directly related to the research performed at CIRA. Wherever possible, outreach activities are designed to facilitate evaluation and assessment of the activity to obtain quantitative feedback on the success of the activity. The CIRA E&O program is led by a committee composed of researchers and other CIRA personnel who have training and an interest in science education and outreach.

As mentioned previously, outreach activities at CIRA are organized through four tiers of involvement. The first, most basic, tiered activity encompasses public relations, media releases, and community involvement – increasing CIRA’s visibility in the public sphere to all audiences. The second tier of activities represent ‘pilot programs’ developed in-house at CIRA – short-term projects targeted at a specific audience with a focus on relevance to CIRA research or capabilities. Tier 2 projects are developed using in-house funding from CIRA with the intent of using preliminary results from the project to compete for and obtain external funding sources.

The third tier of projects at CIRA represent ongoing outreach projects that are externally supported, either as part of a funded research project or as a standalone education or outreach project, including Tier 2 projects that successfully competed for external funds. A fourth tier for CIRA education and outreach projects envisions leveraging unique CIRA capabilities to provide national-caliber education opportunities: providing complete education and public outreach capabilities for an earth science mission, for example, or hosting a nationally-known training and professional development program for emergency managers.

Development of the tiered system of outreach and education at CIRA was implemented in mid-2011, incorporating existing Tier 1 and Tier 2 activities; continued development of CIRA’s Tier 2 and Tier 3 activities is underway. Outreach and Education activities at CIRA operate under the auspices of the Education and Outreach committee who represent areas of research at CIRA and act as principal points-of-contact or principal investigators for CIRA activities. The committee is chaired by the education and outreach coordinator for CIRA, who operates with the oversight of the Directors of CIRA, and who reports to the CIRA Board and Fellows as required. The Education and Outreach Coordinator also acts on CIRA’s behalf for education and outreach activities between Cooperative Institutes and within NOAA at large.