In 1989 and 1990 the Department of State provided funding totaling $90,000 for exploratory activities on the following developments in the region: Yugoslavia (industrial management), German Democratic Republic (biosciences), Bulgaria (science education), Romania (natural resources), Czechoslovakia (agriculture), Poland (energy conservation), and Hungary (sustainable agriculture). Some of the workshops on these topics that were discussed in Chapter 3 provided the venues for these explorations. Department of State funds were combined with other available funds to support the workshops. At the outset, these activities did not focus on young investigators.
In 1991 the Department of State provided significantly greater financial resources ($225,000), which enabled the NRC to launch its Young Investigator Program. Funding continued for several years in support of cooperative activities with colleagues in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The Eastern European component of this new program is described below.
In 1991, 10 American and 14 Romanian ecologists spent 3 weeks exploring the Danube Delta. The Romanians represented the key environmental research institutions of the country. The American and Romanian investigators spent most of the program aboard a 70-foot barge equipped with sleeping quarters and a galley. A tugboat towed the barge through the Delta. This flotilla also included a research vessel that provided a laboratory base for sampling and observing representative portions of all three branches of the Danube River. The Romanian scientists, with participation by the Americans, collected water and soil samples for nutrient analysis, zooplankton measurements, and benthic invertebrate enumeration. A workshop on observations and findings completed the visit.
The following year, young Romanian specialists visited the Mississippi Delta. There the scientists from the two countries addressed environmental research activities and policies to preserve the ecology of deltas in both countries. They considered, for example, wetland protection, hydro-engineering, biodiversity, and sustainable development. Drawing on these experiences, several of the American participants subsequently became consultants on delta issues to the World Bank, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The Romanian scientists became very active promoting environmental policies through many venues in their home country.