URI student finds outreach a key component of researc

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892


KINGSTON, R.I. — November 12, 2003 — University of Rhode Island junior Rosanna Lalli of East Longmeadow, Mass. has her hands full. She’s spent the last five months in an internship aimed at turning university research into information the public can use. She hopes to someday act as a liaison between research communities and the general public, and the Coastal Fellows internship has helped her do exactly that.

Under the supervision of Research Associate Marion Gold, she works with the URI Cooperative Extension, which helps people improve their lives and communities by extending University-based research for the benefit of families, farms and the environment.

Lalli’s internship with Cooperative Extension works three ways. First, she is responsible for posting short, reader-friendly gardening articles on the Internet outlining URI “Plant Pro” segments filmed for Channel 10 television.

“The segments emphasize the small things you can do as a homeowner to create beautiful yet environmentally-friendly gardens,” Lalli said. She has learned about everything from foliar sprays to drip irrigation systems, all while gaining valuable experience working with the World Wide Web.
Her second task involved helping coordinate URI’s GreenShare Field Day, an all day event involving dozens of gardening-related demonstrations, tours, and workshops. For this project, Lalli incorporated her event-planning experience gained from working as a URI Orientation Family Coordinator and Undergraduate Admissions Student Assistant into her internship.

Lalli’s last, and probably most formidable, task involves working with URI’s Healthy Landscapes Program, a three-year grant-sponsored water quality project designed to help southern Rhode Islanders create beautiful gardens without endangering local ecosystems. Lalli is responsible for creating a presentation aimed at helping North Kingstown residents reduce runoff and the use of pesticides in their own gardens. Her focus is environmentally friendly landscaping including water quality protection and water conservation.

“My goal,” Lalli said, “is to introduce small behavior changes to homeowners when taking care of their landscape. We are working towards protecting Narragansett Bay and reducing nonpoint source pollution.”

When she applied to be a Coastal Fellow, this marine affairs major knew that she wanted to work on her administrative and people skills, rather than her research skills. “I get so much of that already within my major,” she said. “I chose Cooperative Extension because it helped develop the skills necessary to convey research results to the community.”

Funding for Lalli’s internship was provided by the URI Coastal Fellows Program, a unique program designed to involve undergraduate students in addressing current environmental problems. Now in its eighth year, the Coastal Fellows Program teams students with faculty, research staff and graduate students to help them gain skills that will ensure their future success.

“My Coastal Fellows internship has been an amazing out-of-classroom experience. I’m taking with me an incredible amount of knowledge about water quality and sustainable landscapes,” Lalli said. “I’ve learned priceless skills that will help me function as someone who translates valuable research information to the public. I’m so happy to have had this opportunity. I recommend to any undergraduate to be involved with Coastal Fellows.”