Making Waves Initiative stays involved within campus community


GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Kylie Elwell

Almost a year and a half after its launch, the Making Waves Initiative (MWI) continues to work together with the campus community at Grand Valley State University. A lot has happened since Fall 2019 with MWI: accomplishments, challenges, future plans and more. Campus community members continue to look for and research new water-related topics that they can explore and offer their help and insights towards. 

The MWI was created to encourage collaboration between students and community members across campus. The goal of their initiative is to explore and work together on learning about water and how it affects our lives. 

The initiative has encountered numerous challenges in their first year involved on campus, they have been especially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many events and efforts were canceled due to rising COVID-19 cases and the initial shutdown. The MWI is now hosting and participating in many virtual events, on-campus photo exhibits and social media. 

“I am proud of the creativity and congeniality of the MWI staff,” said MWI co-leader Nancy O’Neill. “We are small but we very much enjoy working together, solving problems, solving problems, and envisioning interdisciplinary programs and activities that will bring students, faculty, staff, and the community together to appreciate water and understand water-related challenges and opportunities.” 

MWI co-leader Peter Wampler said that the programming over the span of the initiative has been varied, ranging from art to activities. However, some certainly takes the cake.

“I think one of the most fun events that we have done with the initiative was a kayaking event during Big Splash 2019 where we got over 100 students, faculty and staff out on the Grand River in kayaks, including President Mantella and Provost Cimitile,” said Wampler.

Reflecting on this positive experience, MWI plans to continue providing similar outdoor recreation opportunities for students.

“I am looking forward to a new collaboration we are working on called Community Recreation Experiences on the Water (CREW),” Wampler said. “We are working with Ottawa County Parks to acquire and manage a fleet of kayaks that will be located at Grand Ravines Park and will be available for class and group excursion on the Grand River. We are also working on a new annual event we are calling a Campus to Campus Float where we will float from the downtown GVSU campus to Allendale with an overnight stay in Grandville. We are hoping to have this event occur in September of this year if possible.” 

Significant events in the last year were the “Story of Stuff” film screening and panel discussion and the “Confluence Conversations: Rising Great Lakes Levels.” Each of these events had over 100 attendees. The “Rising Great Lakes Level” event had speakers from the US Army Corp of Engineers as well as someone from Ottawa County Parks. 

“I would just encourage any and all students or student groups with a passion for water to reach out to me if they are interested in planning any water-related events,” said Wampler.