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Thesis Defense Presentations


Please join us for the following public thesis defense presentations from ENR graduate degree candidates:

Providing Access to Residential Environmental Education Programs for Multicultural Urban Youth

Kate Bodey
MS in Natural Science Education and ENR
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 8:00am - 10:00am
Wyoming Hall 445
Current research in the environmental education and science fields, and environmental movement focus on barriers to and strategies for increasing diversity and cultural competency, but none specifically address this topic in residential environmental education (REE) programs. This research aims to address this gap in the literature by answering the following research question: what are the strategies, barriers, vision, and resources needed for providing access to REE programs for multicultural urban youth (MUY)? This study utilizes a qualitative research approach based on grounded theory methods and analysis. Interviews were conducted with 17 REE participants, from executive directors to registrars, representing 16 REE organizations located in 13 different states. Three major categories emerged from the interviews including: 1) the importance of REE programs for MUY; 2) the impacts of REE programs on MUY; and 3) the strategies, barriers, vision, and resources needed for providing access to REE programs for MUY. The main research question was addressed in the third emerging category, in which the following eight themes were identified: a) REE organizations’ mission and vision; b) recruitment and retention of a diverse board and staff; c) funding; d) partnerships and collaboration; e) programming; f) cultural competency; g) marketing; and h) accessibility. This research provides REE organizations with best practices for providing access to their programs for MUY. By focusing specifically on REE programs, this study adds to the current research in the EE field on increasing diversity, inclusiveness and cultural competency

Secondary Biogenic Natural Gas Production: A Discussion of the Current Regulatory Framework, or Lack Thereof

Joseph M. Evers
Candidate for the JD/MA in Law and Environment and Natural Resources
Friday, April 26, 2013, 1:30pm
College of Law, Room 186
Background/Objectives. Legislators and policy makers have a tendency to force new energy technologies and developments into existing legal regimes and established regulatory frameworks. More often than not however, new energy technologies do not fit neatly into the existing legal regime, making the implementation of new technologies difficult. This paper examines the regulatory uncertainty that faced Luca Technologies, Inc. (Luca) from 2006-2012 regarding its proposed “methane farming” development in the Powder River Basin (PRB) of Wyoming. Further, this paper discusses potential improvements that may be made to existing regulatory regimes that may serve to encourage future growth and expansion of secondary biogenic natural gas development across the United States.

Luca uses its proprietary technology and processes to stimulate native microorganisms within the coal seam to produce coalbed methane (CBM). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Luca have been odds over how the owner of the coal estate should be compensated for the use of its coal in the production of biogenic CBM. This paper discusses the existing legal regime that guides CBM development, the differences between Luca’s process and traditional CBM development, how the BLM will regulate Luca, concerns of the BLM in managing the coal estate for the benefit of the public, the possible legal arguments for classifying secondary biogenic CBM as pertinent to the oil and gas estate or coal estate, and the potential need for improving the legal/regulatory regime for secondary biogenic coal bed natural gas development on a national scale.

Approach. The remaining regulatory uncertainty surrounding allocating rights to the coal estate or oil and gas estate may hamper the future growth of secondary biogenic CBM development on a national scale. This paper considers the economic, environmental, and regulatory efficiency of existing and potential regulatory schemes based on case law and policy analysis through Lasswell’s seven decision functions: planning, promotion, prescription, invocation, application, appraisal, and termination. 

Results. This paper presents possible recommendations for the improvement of the existing legal regime surrounding the development of secondary biogenic coal bed natural gas.
[1] Clark, T. W. The policy process, a practical guide for natural resource professionals. Yale Univ Pr, 2002.

An Evaluation of the Lasting Impacts of CRM in the Classroom: A Community-Based Collaboration

Shaleas L. Harrison
Master of Science in Natural Science – Natural Science Education (NED) & Environment and Natural Resources
Monday, April 22, 2013, 9:00am-11:00am
Wyoming Hall 445
Community-based Collaboration (CBC) of natural resources management bridges the gap between community involvement, stakeholders, and agencies in decision-making, which serves a purpose in Wyoming with nearly half of its total lands under federal management.  CRM in the Classroom was a CBC that ran programs throughout Wyoming from 1996 to 2006.  This research looked to evaluate the program through the following questions: (1)  Was there a change in management practices? (2) What are the perceptions involving students, teachers and community members in the CBC process?  The findings of this research conclude that involvement of students and teachers is vital in CBCs, CRM in the Classroom built community, and in some cases, changed the way people viewed and managed their resource in holistic ways.  Through building a sense of community, CRM in the classroom has the capacity to increase community involvement in natural resource management.  CRM in the Classroom successfully bridged the gap between citizens and natural resource management by connecting them in meaningful ways to people and places in their community. 

The Implications of Invasive Species Policies on the Regional Economy of the Great Lakes: A Computable General Equilibrium

Jenny L. Johnson
MS in Economics and ENR
Wednesday, May 29, 2013, 1:00pm
College of Buisness Building, Room 230 East

Strengthening the Curriculum Design and Enhancing the Educational Practices of the Resources Education Curriculum in Yellowstone Youth Conservation Corps

Kristen A. Schulte
Master of Science in Natural Science - Natural Science Education & Environment and Natural Resources
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013, 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Wyoming Hall 445

Our country’s first National Park is home to the Yellowstone’s Youth Conservation Corps (Yello-YCC); the Yello-YCC is a residential youth employment program that is founded on service learning concepts implemented through stewardship projects. Since 1989, this program has served as a pipeline for career opportunities in that National Park Service. Education is an integrative part of all work and recreational activities, connecting overall work project goals to ecosystem concepts. Five hours each week is dedicated to formal educational lessons known as the Resource Education Curriculum (REC). Prior to 2010, Yello-YCC ran a single eight-week session each summer. In 2011, a two-session four and a half-week model was implemented. At the time, the original eight-week REC model was transferred to the 2011 Yello-YCC. This transfer resulted in a piecemeal curriculum as previous lessons were shuffled and scrapped to fit the two-session model. Therefore the 2011 REC was lacking clear participant understandings, knowledge, skills and essential questions and a diversity of instructional strategies.
This research aims to replace the REC by developing 17, one-hour educational lessons by answering the following research questions: What are the understandings, knowledge, essential questions, and skills that define the conceptual foundations that are central to the Yello-YCC REC? And how do place-based, experiential, and collaborative instructional strategies support the teaching of the Yello-YCC REC? This study utilized a literature review and interviews with a sample of four expert environmental educators. Five major bodies of knowledge emerged from this study: leadership, cultural heritage, stewardship, ecological relationships, and sustainability. They acted as a springboard for the development of clear participant outcomes and a diversity of instructional strategies in the REC. This research provided the Yello-YCC with a strengthened curriculum design and enhanced REC, which achieves overarching goals of educational programming. By focusing specially on educational development, this study will inform Youth Corps research in the area of participant educational outcomes and diversity of instructional strategies.

Cowtown, Mountain Town, Boomtown: Collusion, Collision, and Fluidity in Community Identity Narratives of Pinedale, Wyoming

Julia Stuble
American Studies and Environment & Natural Resources
Friday, May 3, 2013, 11:00am to 1:00pm
American Studies Cooper House
Characterizing the North American West is an attempt to hit a moving target. Ranching, aridity, mountains, New Western growth, and industrial resource extraction have all been named as defining features of Western communities. How community identities are constructed and represented is especially interesting when contextualized within the West, whose geography is ambiguous but territorialized, whose character is mythic, and whose narratives are multiple and contradictory. The rural town of Pinedale, Wyoming serves as a case study for the fluidity of community identity in the West as it negotiates three narratives: cowtown, mountain town, and boomtown. While rooted in the history and myth of the Old West the community responds to New Western changes, all the while being the epicenter for two of the largest natural gas fields in the nation. This study examines the discourse of a community confronting social changes and the signifiers on the landscape of three different but simultaneous identities.

Impacts of a Field Experience: A Social Cognitive Career Theory Perspective

Sarah Walker
Master of Science in Natural Science - Natural Science Education and Environment & Natural Resources
Friday, May 10, 2013, 10:30am to 12:30pm
Wyoming Hall 445
An increasing demand for qualified science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professionals, coupled with a decreasing proportion of graduating STEM majors, has become cause for national concern. A recent governmental report calls for undergraduate science curriculum that relates abstract scientific concepts to real-life context and provides opportunities for authentic research experiences. This study examined the impacts of a field research project in which Wildlife Ecology Management (WEM) students gain hands-on field experience, use relevant data to learn population analysis and modeling, and contribute to a longitudinal research project.
This mixed-method study utilized pre-post surveys and focus group interviews to determine if, and how, a classroom-integrated field experience can affect students' career goals. The majority of WEM students planned to pursue STEM careers, and reported both professional and education benefits of the field research project. Interpreting student responses in the framework of Social Cognitive Career Theory illustrated how the field experience impacted students' science efficacy and career outcome expectations, which in turn effects how individuals address proximal career barriers. Both qualitative and quantitative findings demonstrated the importance of students' increased understanding of the "nature of science" and interest in the scientific research process. Implications of these results extend beyond career impact and highlight the importance of authentic research experiences in undergraduate science curriculum.

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