Colorado State University’s Collaborative Conservation Fellows Named

The Center for Collaborative Conservation (CCC) and the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University awarded 18 fellowships to form the third cohort of CCC fellows. These fellows include eight graduate students, five faculty members and five conservation practitioners. In addition, several undergraduate CCC interns will be selected to work with the new CCC fellows.

The purpose of the CCC Fellows Program is to strengthen engagement among students, faculty, conservation practitioners and other stakeholders by promoting collaborative research, education and action on critical issues concerning conservation and livelihoods on landscapes around the globe. The CCC fellows are part of the Collaborative Conservation Learning Network where principles and practice of collaborative conservation are developed, exchanged, tested and adapted.

The third cohort of CCC fellows will be working in eight countries including Colombia, Estonia, Kenya, Nicaragua, Panama, Tanzania, Tibet and the United States. Of the 11 fellows who will be working in the United States, eight will be working in communities across Colorado from the Front Range to the Western Slope, one will be working in Washington, one in Wyoming, and one will be working to develop a strategy tool that potentially could be applied in many locations in the U.S. and around the world.

The new fellows will be working on problems as diverse as studying:

  • Environmental governability practices of marginalized ethnic populations in Colombia;
  • Stakeholder perceptions of conservation and creating collaborative partnerships between people and national parks in Colorado and Tanzania;
  • Home gardens and cross-border exchanges of knowledge and resources as a way to promote food sovereignty while mitigating impacts of climate change in northern Nicaragua; and
  • Ways to spread culturally relevant knowledge of predicted climate changes in rural Tibet to inform local resource conservation and livelihood strategies.

David Bartecchi is the executive director of Village Earth, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Fort Collins. Through this fellowship, Bartecchi will research and develop a practical model for supporting local community-based natural resource conservation organizations. The goal is to implement many key findings in literature on best practices for supporting local organizational capacity building. The outcome of this fellowship will be a practical and adaptive model for supporting local community-based organizations that could be used by the CCC itself or in partnership with Village Earth.

Karie Boone is a master’s student in the Department of Sociology at CSU and works with Pete Taylor, associate professor of sociology at CSU. In collaboration with Nicaraguan community leaders, NGOs and U.S. academics, Boone will explore ways in which mutually beneficial relationships across borders may be structured to develop sustainable networks of collaborative conservation. She will focus on home gardens to analyze and promote greater food sovereignty while mitigating the impacts of climate change in the Segovias region of Nicaragua. Through case studies of local farms, she will produce a manual for locals to enhance food security through bio-diverse gardening practices.

Gillian Bowser is a research scientist with the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory in the Warner College of Natural Resources at CSU. By using participant generated imagery, Bowser and a pair of CCC graduate fellows, Kate Wilkins and Gloria Sumay, will explore perceptions of conflict over wildlife, tourism and sustainable development between communities and protected areas for two different national parks: Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado and Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. Bowser’s primary role in the joint project will be to engage park management and community leaders in a conversation exchange about conflict and bridging the community/park gap, both within and between locations. The project will end with a joint workshop at Tarangire between senior managers and community leaders.

Jessica Clement is a social scientist and forest ecologist who co-directs the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute (CFRI) within CSU’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship. With Michael Schrotz, who is planning and lands staff officer of Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming, and Tony Cheng, who is director of CFRI, Clement will explore methods to effectively integrate social science to benefit collaborative, large landscape-scale planning and conservation processes. She will describe methods for using various types of social science data to enhance long-term collaborative planning and conservation to benefit cultural, economic and ecological components of landscape conservation on the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Stuart Cottrell is associate professor in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at CSU. He will work with Vilsandi National Park and other protected-area stakeholders on Saaremaa Island, Estonia, to facilitate development of a collaborative conservation plan coupled with visitor management and sustainable tourism development strategies for Vilsandi National Park to meet criteria to become a European Protected Area Network Park. The goal of the fellowship is to enhance Vilsandi National Park and stakeholder capacity to manage conservation collaboratively, to enhance sustainable livelihoods among tour operators, and to enhance the wilderness experience of visitors.

Emily Eddins is a doctoral candidate in CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources who works with Stuart Cottrell. Eddins will conduct an integrated assessment of the impacts of volunteer tourism on local communities’ sustainable livelihoods and cross-cultural collaboration in an area that has a current, long-standing partnership of volunteer tourism through CSU’s Alternative Break program in Achiote, Panama. She aims to better understand the role that volunteer tourism can play in collaborative conservation efforts and to promote and enhance collaboration among volunteer tourism stakeholders to better identify, implement and manage projects that maximize benefits for the daily lives of people in host communities and their surrounding ecological systems.

Lindsay Ex is an environmental planner with the city of Fort Collins and is the research coordinator for the Conservation Development Global Challenges Research Team at CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability. She will develop an outreach network for conservation development that will engage conservation practitioners and enable communication across a broader range of stakeholders, including planners, developers, homeowners associations and advocacy groups such as local land trusts. Through this fellowship, Ex and the Conservation Development Global Challenges Research Team will pilot a website to serve as the portal for conservation development practice in Colorado, eventually launching this portal and network to a national level.

Rachel Gibson is a master’s student working with Jennifer Cross in CSU’s Department of Sociology. She will examine what has motivated Fort Collins residents to get involved in FortZED, a community initiative to reduce city-wide energy use through conservation practices and the use of renewable energy sources. She will also examine the success of strategies aimed at getting people to curb their energy use. Through a collaborative project involving CSU, the CCC, The Atmosphere Conservancy, and other community members, she will be able to examine this very unique community initiative that will help reduce energy use and provide for a better, more environmentally friendly future.

Sarah Hamman is a restoration ecologist with The Nature Conservancy in Washington and CSU alumna. She will work with CSU affiliates and multiple stakeholders to launch a Prescribed Fire Council in the state of Washington. The fellowship will support the planning and implementation of a two-day facilitated workshop that will bring together diverse participants from government fire management agencies, non-profit conservation organizations and private landowners to address the social and ecological challenges to prescribed burning. This project will encourage fire suppression organizations to consider more prescribed burning, collaborative wildfire management and building ecosystem resilience to altered fire regimes.

Kelly Hopping is a doctoral student in CSU’s Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and is advised by Julia Klein. She will work in a Tibetan pastoralist community, where she will integrate local knowledge about climate change with satellite imagery of vegetation health and data from newly developed climate models. With increased understanding of how environmental knowledge is held and shared within the community, she will be able to work with village leaders to spread predictions about climate change and its consequences for this social-ecosystem system more effectively.

David Jessup is co-owner of Sylvan Dale Ranch, a 3,500-acre working dude ranch west of Loveland that raises grass-fed beef for local sale. Jessup’s fellowship will allow him to test two soil restoration strategies, mob grazing and compost tea application on an irrigated hay field where decades of hay removal has depleted the soil. Working with university and government collaborators, he will measure changes in soil quality indices and analyze the potential value of these improvements for a ranchland ecosystem services market for Colorado and the Western United States. His report will be applicable to soil restoration, conservation and grazing land management for private and public lands.

Clement Lenachuru is a doctoral student in CSU’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship advised by Maria Fernandez-Gimenez. His project in Marigat district in Kenya will bring together governmental departments, NGOs, county administrative officers, local community-based organizations and local farmers to restore pastures and farmlands that have been invaded by an exotic weed – prosopis juliflora. He will work closely with collaborative partners and farmers to increase the land’s productivity and suitability for raising livestock and crops to improve food security in this arid part of Kenya and will build and use existing local social networks and climatic knowledge to conserve the environment and its productivity.

Katie Lyon is a doctoral student in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at CSU, working with Jerry Vaske, professor in the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. Lyon’s research will focus on identifying practical steps for reducing the social and cognitive barriers to implementing firewise defensible space behaviors in Colorado. For her fellowship, she will conduct a series of participatory workshops with fire managers and individual and community stakeholders to obtain feedback on communication strategies for promoting firewise behaviors at an individual and neighborhood level.

Sarah Reed is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at CSU. She will collaborate with the Wildlife Conservation Society to develop a citizen science protocol for monitoring mammal habitat use and movement patterns on private lands. A CSU student research assistant will help test and refine this protocol in a pilot-field comparison study of snow tracking and remote camera surveys in a local mountain subdivision. The resulting protocol will be leveraged for application to the pilot study area and to Wildlife Conservation Society conservation priority landscapes in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and Adirondack Park.

Karen Snider is director of the Sustainable Development Garden, CSU’s organic, student-run garden. Her fellowship will highlight local resource conservation and individual empowerment through urban community building. Projects such as a tool co-op and lending library, free store and community garden will encourage participants to create more self-reliant and sustainable lifestyles within their cities. She will provide a localized model for urban conservation through sustainable community development as well as document a budding grassroots movement occurring within multiple cities that she will share with the global conservation community via a documentary film on collaborative living in urban spaces.

Gloria Sumay is a master’s student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU working with Gillian Bowser, NREL research scientist. Her project addresses the cross-cultural perspectives of local communities neighboring national parks. Sumay will work with three villages to the east of Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, where there is a long history of conflict between the park and local communities. She will use household interviews, Photovoice (a method of incorporating cameras in the hands of local people whose perceptions are being studied) and global information systems to identify and locate conflicts. Through her fellowship, she will produce maps and will hold meetings between communities and park management.

Marcela Velasco is on the faculty of the Department of Political Science at CSU. She will research the environmental governability practices of marginalized ethnic populations in Colombia and will encourage training and field exchanges between an indigenous group recovering 1,300 hectares of deforested land in Cristianía and a riparian Afro-Colombian community trying to protect its river in Anchicayá. Her fellowship project will support Jenzera, an inter-ethnic and multidisciplinary organization developing training activities aimed at increasing ethno-territorial governance by addressing issues of conflict over land and natural resources.

Kate Wilkins is a master’s student working with Gillian Bowser in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at CSU. Her fellowship project involves using interviews and Photovoice to understand local community attitudes toward Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. Wilkins will collaborate with Gloria Sumay to compare Crestone’s perceptions of the park with those of communities near Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. Together with their advisor, faculty fellow Bowser, Wilkins and Sumay will organize a meeting for Great Sand Dunes participants to share pictures and stories with park management and produce a Photovoice exhibit at CSU.

For more information on the CCC’s third cohort of Collaborative Conservation Fellows and the Fellowship Program in general, visit