CoPe Community Science and Engagement Programs

The CoPe Community Water Corps Program is dedicated to work with communities to find local water quality and environmental issues, as well as solutions against climate change. Together, we conduct community-based research that will help to understand water-related risks in Eastern North Carolina. Why? Because people living in coastal regions are constantly impacted by threats related to managing water quality and quantity.

The communities we currently serve in Eastern North Carolina include Greenville, Princeville, Nags Head, and Aurora. Each area has its own special projects, due to different needs and research approaches.

In Greenville, the city has experienced many flooding issues that has impacted its diverse communities. The community of Princeville knows all about resiliency, especially when it comes to environmental setbacks. As a tourist town on the beach, Nags Head faces challenges that come with a varying seasonal population. Aurora is home to one of the largest phosphate mining plants in the world which makes way for some amazing fossil finds.

Within those communities, CoPe Community Water Corps shares goals including four major program areas:

  • System Mapping: Collection of environmental, social and economic data to improve our understanding and models of the basic functioning of the Tar-Pamlico watershed and the environmental decision-making strategies of the people who live within it.
  • Vulnerability Assessment: Identification of areas where environmental, institutional, or economic disparities enhance risks from climate-driven hazards, such as droughts, hurricanes, and sea level rise.
  • Community Adaptation: Evaluation of opportunities for locally appropriate cooperative adaptation and mitigation strategies that build community and regional resilience.
  • Environmental Justice: Produce science needed by communities at risk through community-based research projects, embedded internships, and a regional forum to share local challenges and build collaborative solutions.

In order to be successful with our ambitions to address local threats of water quality and quantity issues, we offer different engagement opportunities for interested community members.

Community Water Corps!

What is the Community Water Corps about? This program is open to ECU students and community members older than 18 years old, who want to make a difference in their communities. During this program, community members work with the CoPe Project Team and CWC Facilitators to help community members from our partnering communities (Princeville, Greenville, Aurora, and Nags Head), ranging from town leaders to middle and high school students, to identify and investigate local environmental issues of concern related to climate change. These issues will be specific to the community, but could include things like:

  • Documenting resident perspectives and stories around environmental change
  • Understanding whether places of value to the community are at risk from sea level rise
  • Evaluating options for creating green infrastructure (like rain gardens) for reducing flood risks
  • Investigating what sources contribute to pollution in community water ways
  • And many more issues that may emerge while working within your community!

For more information about the program, please contact Tara van Niekerk at

Community Science Camp!

Our Community Science Camp is a free guided, hands-on group science program engaging students and residents in local community-based research. This camp is for middle and high school students.

Why should you join the program?

  • Develop your skills by using GIS tools, mobile devices, data, photos, and VR technology to build community maps.
  • Support your community by addressing water concerns through research and data collection.
  • Engage with your community through social media, websites, newsletters, videos, art projects, presentations and events.
  • Explore ENC and take part in field trips to museums, aquariums, universities, and more.
  • High school students can earn volunteer hours to boost their college resume.

For more information about the camp, please contact Tara van Niekerk at For questions regarding press opportunities and news coverage, please reach out to Kim Kassner at

Community Coffee Chats!

Do you care about equity, justice, and the environment in your community? If you answered yes, then come and join us for our monthly Community Coffee Chats.

The ECU Water Resources Center is excited to be partnering with the Coalition Against Racism (CAR) and the North of the River Association (NOTRA) to bring you another community coffee hour. The aim of this informal gathering is to create a space for fellowship and networking where we can talk about issues that concern us in our communities.

Each month, there will be a new discussion theme. Past topics have been Sharing InformationAir Quality, and Water Quality. Everyone is welcome and the event is free!

Save the date for the upcoming month:

Future dates to be announced. Visit the North Carolina Community Information Portal to stay up to date with our upcoming events.

For more information about the exact dates and locations of our Community Coffee Chats, please follow our Facebook or Instagram page!