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WKU offering first 4-year degree in floodplain management in U.S.

Some of the nation’s top floodplain managers will meet next week at WKU, home of the United States’ first four-year degree in floodplain management.

Members of the Certification Board of Regents for the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Certified Floodplain Manager program will be in Bowling Green on March 2-4 for their spring meeting.

WKU students visited the International Hurricane Research Center and the Wall of Wind in Miami during Winter Term 2015. The Wall of Wind can produce Category 5 winds to allow structural studies.

During a Winter Term 2015 floodplain management course, WKU students visited the International Hurricane Research Center and the Wall of Wind in Miami. WKU has offered a minor in floodplain management since 2007 and has added the United States’ first four-year degree in floodplain management.

“I’m looking forward to having them here on campus,” said Warren Campbell, Hall Professor of Civil Engineering at WKU and co-chair of the ASFPM’s Higher Education Policy Committee. “It’s a really big deal to have them in Bowling Green.”

Since creation of the nation’s first minor in floodplain management in 2007, WKU has had 48 graduates earn their national certification as floodplain managers — that’s more than 11 states, Campbell noted.

In the United States, where 39 percent of the population lives in coastal areas, more than 22,000 communities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program but there are fewer than 9,000 Certified Floodplain Managers.

WKU’s Bachelor’s of Interdisciplinary Studies with a Concentration in Floodplain Management is part of a nationwide effort by ASFPM to expand educational opportunities in the field and to respond to a national and international need for certified floodplain managers.

“Before 1982, there were no Emergency Management & Planning degree programs in the United States,” Campbell said. “Today there are more than 200 associate, bachelor’s and graduate degree programs available in EM&P. We hope that floodplain management follows this same pattern and that our program at WKU will provide a template for other universities to follow. We feel these programs are filling a critical need since a recent study predicts that flood losses worldwide will reach $1 trillion annually by 2050.”

WKU hosted members of the Certification Board of Regents for the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Certified Floodplain Manager program on March 2-4 for their spring meeting.

WKU hosted members of the Certification Board of Regents for the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Certified Floodplain Manager program on March 2-4 for their spring meeting.

Other programs include a new master’s degree in planning with concentration in floodplain management at the University of Washington and an existing associate degree aimed at training USGS hydrologic technicians at Gateway Community College in Phoenix as well as floodplain management courses at the Emergency Management Institute.

“We have arrived at a watershed moment for floodplain management,” Campbell said. “With these programs, our profession is coming of age.”

The WKU bachelor’s degree program includes courses in floodplain management, technical courses (engineering, geography, geology, GIS, meteorology, surveying, mathematics), communication and political science.

In the past year, Campbell has made presentations at national and regional meetings about the ASFPM committee’s goal of encouraging and enabling the development of flood risk management degree programs and promoting the expansion of existing flood risk management curriculum.

“We need more prospective college students to realize that floodplain management is a viable career option,” Campbell said. “We’ve had really good support from ASFPM. This program goes a long way to making floodplain management a more recognized profession.”

The ASFPM’s 2015 national meeting will be held in Atlanta. At last year’s national meeting, Campbell received the John Ivey Certification Award, which recognizes exceptional efforts to promote the professional certification of floodplain managers. “I was surprised and pleased to receive the John Ivey Award,” Campbell said. “The award is named after one of the most knowledgeable and respected floodplain managers in the country.”

Contact: Warren Campbell, (270) 745-8988

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