Environment

Environmental Education

Connecting people with nature is one of my greatest joys in life. My interest in environmental education started at a very young age, however I did not have the opportunity to fully engage with environmental education until I moved to Montana for graduate school. I served as the Education Coordinator at the University of Montana Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology (UM FLAT). I created interpretive signs around the property, developed curriculum, coordinated workshops, and planned a site visit for local Montana elementary students.

Curious about the world of environmental education after my year at the UM FLAT, I applied for an AmeriCorps position at the Montana Natural History Center as an education intern. I concurrently enrolled in an environmental education course and was grateful for the chance to take the lessons from class and apply them in practice while at the Natural History Center. Delving into the world of place-based education was exciting and fun and inspired me to hone my naturalist skills by enrolling in a Master Naturalist course. Connecting kids with their local place and encouraging to explore their own curiosity profoundly impacted my own worldview.

I was hired by the Montana Natural History Center as a field guide near the end of my AmeriCorps year. I developed many robust skills such as curriculum development, volunteer management, outdoor program management, public speaking, blog writing, and programming for early learners. I deeply loved working outdoors with teachers, students, and parents.

Most recently I worked in the education department at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. I assisted with the BurkeMobile program developing curriculum, teaching, coordinating site visits, and building future capacity. Connecting Washington school kids with museum artifacts was an amazing opportunity and I hope to be able to contribute more to the world of environmental education.

Sustainability
Sustainability has been a priority in my life ever since I can remember. I grew up in a small town without recycling services and I vividly remember our garage full of paper bags that contained rinsed and sorted recycling materials. Once a month we would load up the back of our car, trek to the waste transfer station, unload our goods, and collect any money we earned. We had a big jar for the change we would collect that was our vacation fund. Once in high school I decided that our school needed a recycling program so I started a recycling club, aptly named the Ben and Jerry’s Club. We spray painted trash cans for our recycling bins and set them up around the school. Every Friday I would stay after school to sort through the bins to remove trash and rinse out the materials that could be recycled. By the end of the year we had collected enough change from the recycled material to donate a tree to our school.
 
I had the profound opportunity to live and work at the University of Montana Forum for Living with Appropriate Technology (UM FLAT). I lived and worked with three fellow graduate students and two highly motivated undergraduate students. We occupied a house, mother-in-law house, and small garage space a block from the U. of Montana campus. We maintained a permaculture garden and raised a flock of chickens in our backyard. Together we wrote grants, gathered donated materials, sought out local clay sources, and honed in a cob recipe in order to renovate a dilapidated garage. Over the course of the academic year we transformed the garage from a building in severe disrepair into a beautiful and energy efficient gathering space. We worked with Northwest Energy to acquire a solar array for our main house to off-set our energy use and coordinated solar training for 40 Montana Journeymen during the installation. Together we tinkered and brainstormed small energy efficient or sustainable projects that we could accomplish quickly and cheaply; we used these projects to demonstrate to the campus community, and Missoula community at large, that living sustainability is easy, fun and accessible to the average person!
  • UM FLAT Chickens

    UM FLAT Chickens

  • UM FLAT Garage Turned Community Space

    UM FLAT Garage Turned Community Space

  • Greens in the FLAT hotbed

    Greens in the FLAT hotbed

  • UM FLAT Garden and Back House

    UM FLAT Garden and Back House

  • UM FLAT Garden

    UM FLAT Garden

  • UM PEAS Farm

    UM PEAS Farm

Transboundary Issues

Natural resources are dynamic. Water, plants, animals, and people move across boundaries each and every day. What are the implications of natural resources that cross political boundaries such as water or migrating animals? How can we use scientific research to craft best practices and inform state and federal policies? How can we create opportunity for collaboration across boundaries? These questions excite and motivate me in the world of transboundary environmental issues.

As a graduate student at the University of Montana, I researched the impacts of coal bed methane development in the Flathead River Valley in northwestern Montana and southeastern British Columbia, Canada. I chose to study at the University of Montana specifically for their Transboundary Planning, Policy and Management Initiative. During my time in the program I became involved with the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent and saw firsthand the power of collaborative management between local, state, federal, tribal, non-governmental, business owners, landowners, ranchers, and academics.

I am deeply passionate about transboundary environmental issues and I hope to find new opportunities to explore the dynamics between natural resource management, international politics, and global development!

Graduate Thesis

TRADING OFF THE BENEFITS AND BURDENS: COAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE TRANSBOUNDARY FLATHEAD RIVER VALLEY

 

ABSTRACT

The potential for coal development in the transboundary Flathead River Valley threatened the ecological integrity of the Crown of the Continent for more than thirty years. Economic benefits from coal mining in British Columbia were pitted against the environmental concerns of poor water quality, endangered species protection, and connectivity issues were of particular interest in Montana. This paper examines the course of coal development proposals in the transboundary valley through government statements, reports, and news sources to track changes in policies or actions that led to a resolution. Tensions between the benefits and burdens of coal development were resolved in 2010 by a Memorandum of Understanding between British Columbia and Montana, which removed coal, oil and gas development in the transboundary valley. The desire to trade-off economic interests and environmental concerns emerged from government documents and statements throughout the dispute. The emergence of tourism in British Columbia led to the resolution of lost economic opportunities through compensation and assumption of the lost economic and development opportunities by the U.S. and Montana in the Flathead watershed. Further protection of the Montana Flathead Valley is pending U.S. Senate approval.