The purpose of the CAWS (Collaboration through Appalachian Watershed Studies) project is to enhance ecology education at several small Appalachian colleges and universities by collaborative study of ecosystems using the small watershed approach. Each of the participating schools maintains and monitors a small watershed for research and teaching purposes. These watersheds serve as the focus of ecological, geochemical, and botanical research projects conducted by faculty and students. Students gain valuable experience and acquire technical skills by studying the watershed in class and in summer internships. Information collected by researchers at each site are shared online so that students at any of the participating institutions can access data from any of the other institutions.
The CAWS project began as a spinoff of the ROCA project. ROCA involved three schools (Ferrum College, University of the South, and WV Wesleyan College) in collaboration with the University of Maryland's Appalachian Laboratory. In 2001, with the aid of a grant from the Mellon Foundation and the Appalachian College Association, three other institutions were added to the network (Lindsey Wilson, Montreat, and Davis and Elkins Colleges). King College joined the consortium in 2002. Recently, Ohio Valley University, Emory and Henry College, Alderson-Broaddus College and Mt. St. Mary's University have been added to the collaborative group
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