Environmental Leadership Program

 

Providing the skills, confidence and inspiration to make a difference!  

Students in a huddle at outdoor work site

The Environmental Leadership Program is a collaborative, interdisciplinary service-learning program housed in Environmental Studies. We match student teams with non-profit organizations, government agencies and businesses to address local environmental needs. Our students gain leadership, communication, and professional skills by engaging directly in applied problem-resolution while providing valuable assistance to our community partners. 

Our goals are to provide: 

  1. Undergraduate students with unique and practical learning experiences that develop field-based research, writing and presentation skills; 
  2. Graduate students with project management and team-building experience and skills; and 
  3. Organizations with cost-effective and high-quality services. 

 


Projects 

We develop our projects cooperatively with community partners. Depending on partners’ needs, projects can address environmental education and outreach, natural resource management, habitat restoration, species conservation, environmental monitoring, sustainable business practices, ecotourism, recreation management, environmental justice, and other topics. 

Currently, we have four primary focal areas. 

student measuring conifer seedling

In our Conservation Science in Action projects, students assist community partners by completing hands-on restoration projects, creating assessments and management plans, or acquiring and analyzing needed environmental data. 

Environmental Studies Humanties

In our Environmental Education projects, students develop, implement, and share transformative learning experiences for children in nature. Students create scientifically rigorous curricula, teach programs in classrooms and conduct field trip activities. 

Person making a video of the McKenzie River

In our Community Engagement projects, students collect and share information with different audiences using creative methods, such as interpretive signs and museum displays, social media campaigns, and oral histories. For example, in our MyMcKenzie projects, students have promoted conservation of the beautiful and ecologically important McKenzie River through photography, creative writing and conversations with community members. 

Students looking at control panel

In our Sustainable Practices projects, students implement solutions that address and integrate concerns regarding environmental health, social equity, and economic success. Example projects include renewable energy, waste prevention and recycling, alternative transportation, sustainable business, and organic agriculture. 


How to Apply 

All 2021-22 projects are full. The 2022-23 project descriptions and application will be available October 2022. 

Download the Environmental Leadership Program Application

The Environmental Leadership Program is competitive and is open to undergraduates with at least junior standing, although priority consideration will be given to Environmental Studies and Environmental Science majors.  

Please fill out the application form and email it to Katie Lynch (klynch@uoregon.edu) and Peg Boulay (boulay@uoregon.edu). Don’t forget to attach your resume. After receiving your application, Katie or Peg will email you to schedule an interview. 


Spring 2022 Projects 

All projects are full. The 2022-23 project descriptions and application will be available October 2022. 

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PROJECTS 

All EE projects require you to complete a district background check and submit proof of Covid vaccination. Project details subject to change due to changes in state, county, district and/or UO Covid rules. 

CONSERVATION SCIENCE PROJECTS 

Aves Compartidas 2022 

This team will work in partnership with the Willamette-Laja Twinning Project and River Road Elementary School to bring students together from Mexico and the US to learn about the migratory birds we share. Using birds as our focal point, we will explore our ecological and cultural connections.  Your mission will be to: “unite youth, educators, habitat restoration practitioners and the birding community for deep cultural connections and sustained conservation of our shared migratory species and habitats.” Previous experience birding and/or Spanish is useful, but not required. In winter you will enroll in ENVS 425: Environmental Education: Theory & Practice (4 credits), and in Spring ENVS 429: ELP (4 credits). 

Birds and Blooms 

Only 1% of the Willamette Valley’s historical wet prairie habitats remain. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Long Tom Watershed Council are in the process of restoring wet prairie and vernal pool habitat at Coyote Creek South to benefit at-risk species such as Streaked Horned Lark and Red-legged Frog. This project will monitor plant and animal occurrence following restoration and will include the use of iNaturalist, a community science platform. You will learn about prairie restoration techniques and challenges, grassland bird conservation and a variety of monitoring methods. A knowledge of conservation biology, avian conservation, ecological restoration, or botany is preferred but not required. In winter, you will enroll in ENVS 427: Environmental and Ecological Monitoring (4 credits), and in Spring ENVS 429: ELP (4 credits). 

Climate Science, Climate Justice 2022 

This team will engage middle-schoolers in learning about old-growth forests, climate science, and climate justice. Your mission will be to show science in action and engage students in an interdisciplinary exploration of climate issues.  You’ll implement new lessons developed at HJA as well as develop one of your own.  The team will visit classrooms and lead full day field trips to the Andrews Forest in spring term (if Covid guidelines allow).  You’ll be working in partnership with the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. A background in ecology, climate science and/or climate justice is helpful, but not required. In winter you will enroll in ENVS 425: Environmental Ed: Theory & Practice (4 credits), and in Spring ENVS 429: ELP (4 credits). 

Promoting Pollinators 2022 

With the overall goals of providing shade for Goose Creek and habitat for pollinators within the context of an organic farm (Whitewater Ranch), this team will continue maintaining and monitoring a riparian restoration project as well as monitor a new pollinator planting intended to help the farm’s pollinator populations recover from the September 2020 Holiday Farm Fire. This is a continuation of our long-term “Riparian Restoration” project with a greater emphasis on pollinators. This project will build upon the 2014-2021 teams’ work. You will learn about riparian restoration techniques and challenges, pollinator conservation and a variety of monitoring methods. A background in botany, pollination biology, sustainable agriculture or ecological restoration is useful but not required. In winter, you will enroll in ENVS 427: Environmental and Ecological Monitoring (4 credits), and in Spring ENVS 429: ELP (4 credits). 

Restoring Connections 2022 

Get out onto the trails at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum with elementary school children to help them cultivate a lasting, personal connection to nature, based on reciprocity and respect. This year we’ll be working with K-3rd grade and focused on plants and people. Activities will focus on Coyote Mentoring methods such as journaling, with a focus on native flora, fauna, and natural history. You will gain experience in the development and implementation of hands-on learning experiences. You’ll be working in partnership with MPA and Adams Elementary School. In winter you will enroll in ENVS 425: Environmental Education: Theory & Practice (4 credits), and in Spring ENVS 429: ELP (4 credits). 

Fire and Fuels 

Burning by the Kalapuya peoples maintained a mosaic of oak and prairie habitats in the Willamette Valley. Since colonization by European settlers, fire suppression has led to habitat loss and degradation, as well as fuel buildup rendering forests more prone to catastrophic wildfires. However, restoration of oak communities can improve wildlife habitat and serve as a firebreak in the wildland-urban interface. This project will monitor and assess fuel loads, vegetative response to ecological burns and/or oak habitats. You will learn about the benefits and challenges of fire and oak management, as well as vegetation/fuels monitoring methods. A knowledge of forest biology or botany is preferred but not required. In winter, you will enroll in ENVS 427: Environmental and Ecological Monitoring (4 credits), and in Spring ENVS 429: ELP (4 credits). 

Past Projects (Student Websites)