Dr. Lois Zook-Gerdau earns Conservation Educator of the Year award from Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District
The award was instituted in 1984 and aims to create an awareness and appreciation of the value of conservation education and to stimulate efforts by teachers to advance the wise use, protection and enhancement of the nation’s soil, water and related resources. Each year, one Muskingum County educator is honored.
Dr. Zook-Gerdau has been working with the District for more than 10 years in its monitoring program for the Salt Creek Watershed. Along with her students, Dr. Zook-Gerdau and the Muskingum Soil and Water Conservation District worked to establish a baseline for water quality in the Salt Creek Watershed, as well as to monitor changes to that quality. Water samples were gathered at multiple sites which were initially tested by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Through her efforts, Muskingum University then acquired the equipment necessary to do the testing to Ohio EPA standards at Muskingum University.
In 2013, Dr. Zook-Gerdau wrote a proposal for Muskingum’s Summer Fellows program to provide a Muskingum student as an intern to the District. That student, Amanda Preslicka, provided a wide range of services, including the development of additional water sampling sites. After her graduation from Muskingum last year, Preslicka went on to be accepted to graduate school with a full scholarship. In 2014, Dr. Zook-Gerdau made arrangements to provide two more student interns so the water sampling work could continue and be expanded.
Dr. Zook-Gerdau was nominated for the award by Nicole Hafer, the District’s Education/Wildlife Specialist. In her nomination letter Hafer said, “We are proud of the relationship we have with Muskingum University and recognize this partnership would not be possible without the help of Dr. Zook-Gerdau. She has helped the District continue the Salt Creek Watershed project, supplied us with wonderful student interns and provided advice and assistance to improve several programs.”
Dr. Zook-Gerdau joined the faculty at Muskingum in 2002 and currently is an advisor for the University’s Environmental Science program. Her scholarly interests include analytical chemistry, electrochemistry and environmental chemistry. She earned her doctoral degree from the University of Iowa and performed fuel cell research as a post-doctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory before becoming an educator.