Two area URI students experience coastal learning

KINGSTON, R.I. — October 22, 1998 — Leland Mello of Carolina, R.I., and Deirdra Storti of Westerly, R.I., were recently appointed as Coastal Fellows for the University of Rhode Island’s Partnership for the Coastal Environment. Each is spending eight months as part of a team working with professors and other research staff on projects related to the coastal environment. The URI Partnership for the Coastal Environment combines a structured, prestigious undergraduate experience with the resources and talents of the public and private sectors. While gaining the skills as well as the contacts that will ensure their success, students build the confidence needed to perform on the job before they enter the job market. Fellows also received a stipend for their work over the summer. Here’s what Mellow and Storti have to say about their research experiences this summer: URI graduate helps keep the options open “There is a satisfaction that comes from knowing that my actions could be responsible for the preservation of open space,” says Leland Mello. The actions of which he speaks include research and comparison of various policies and strategies available for open space conservation. “I’m trying to discover all the possible resources and techniques that could assist towns or states with developing an optimal land preservation policy,” he says. One of the final outcomes of his examination will be a document that presents short descriptions of all conservation methods in existence and guidelines for the implementation of appropriate policies. “In general, it will be a list of pros and cons, where the policy has been instituted, incentives for using a policy, and problems that certain policies may have caused,” he says. Mello was also participating in writing a document that addresses the impact of a proposed amendment to the R.I. Farm, Forest, and Open Space Act. “Hopefully we’ll show that the impact will generally be small so that landowners will have the incentive to enroll more land, making it possible to preserve that much more open space,” says the recent wildlife biology and management graduate. Mello believes that the work that he is doing will help him to develop skills that will not only help him find a job now, but also be applicable to his future endeavors. “I’m learning to become more efficient at narrowing down large quantities of data,” says Mello. Hopefully, however, these efforts will support preservation of open space. He is working with Robert Johnston of Newport, R.I., a research assistant professor from the Department of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics in the College of the Environment and Life Sciences. URI grad student figures on the future Aquidneck Island is a microcosm of regional variations. From the touristy city of Newport that ballasts the southern rim with hotels, restaurants, and marinas; through the suburb of Middletown, mixed with shopping plazas and picturesque vistas; to the nearly rural town of Portsmouth with its salt-marshes and open fields; the Island boasts a variety of outlooks. With such divergence, the development of a harmonious vision for community planning is not an easy task. Deirdra Storti is helping to reconcile differences in long-term goals and facilitate the creation of a common, Island-wide, agenda for ecosystem management. “We provide assistance in Navy master planning efforts, transportation initiatives, and environmental and economic issues,” says the University of Rhode Island master’s candidate in Environmental Planning. “Studying from books is just not enough to secure a decent and rewarding career,” says Storti, who has worked as an intern at a planning office in Jamestown. “You can’t get this type of experience in a classroom-it’s more valuable than all of my four years as an undergrad combined,” she remarks. She is working with Jared Rhodes of Narragansett, R.I., a marine research specialist, and Jennifer McCann of Richmond, R.I., a coastal management specialist from the Coastal Resources Center at the Graduate School of Oceanography. She is also acting as a mentor to Coastal Fellow Kate McGraw, a junior from Endicott, N.Y. x-x-x For More Information: Jhodi Redlich (401) 874-2116