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Collaboration Program in Natural Resources

Building Collaborative Capacity in Wyoming and Beyond

2016 CPNR Cohort

Natural resource management is highly complex, affecting not only biological values, but also social, cultural, economic, and other values in nearby communities. To address these factors, policies directing natural resource management often mandate public involvement. The idea is to bring the people who will be affected to the table and give them an opportunity to weigh in on decisions.

Stakeholders want to be involved. Decision-makers desire meaningful public input. But creating processes that can gather and use stakeholder input in a meaningful way requires specialized skills.

The Ruckelshaus Institute’s Collaboration Program in Natural Resources, or CPNR, is building collaborative capacity for natural resource decision-making in Wyoming.

Every spring we welcome a cohort of 12–16 mid- and upper-level professionals into this year-long training program. Participants attend five hands-on learning sessions where they receive professional training in negotiation, facilitation, leadership, and collaborative processes. They also design and map out a practicum, a real-world collaborative process that could be applied in their own communities.

Graduates of the program have the option to earn academic credit through the University of Wyoming Outreach School. Our graduates go on to lead collaborative problem solving processes throughout Wyoming and across the West, ensuring that natural resource management decisions are more inclusive, consider more community and stakeholder needs, and will be more robust and longer-lasting than they could ever be without collaboration.

Application deadline extended!

We'll continue accepting applications for the 2019 Collaboration Program in Natural Resources until Friday, May 17, 2019.

Read the recruitment flier or view the 2019 CPNR prospectus and application form.

Jessica walking through sagebrush on Platte Valley Habitat Partnership field trip.

2019 Schedule

CPNR participants attend five rigorous, hands-on sessions to develop collaborative problem-solving skills for natural resource issues. They also complete a skills practicum. Sessions for the 2019 class run from noon Wednesdays to noon Fridays as follows:

Self Discovery and Intro to Concepts

July 17–19, Lander

Negotiation, Facilitation, and Leadership

Aug 14–16, Lander

Situation Assessments and Collaborative Process Planning

Sept 25–27, Casper

Designing and Facilitating a Collaborative Process

Oct 30–Nov 1, Laramie

Collaborative Design and Communication

Dec 4–6, Laramie

Practicum Presentation and Graduation

April 2020, Date and location TBD

Graduation and final presentations for the 2018 cohort will take place in Saratoga Springs, Wyoming, April 10–12, 2019.

Program Materials

In CPNR, natural resource professionals will:

  1. Acquire the participative leadership skills necessary to effectively participate in natural resource multi-party collaborative processes.
  2. Acquire the facilitative leadership skills necessary to convene, facilitate, and sustain progressive collaborative problem-solving processes.

Participants are required to:

  • Commit to all six sessions
  • Have supervisor’s full approval
  • Complete the Myers-Briggs Test
  • Initiate a project that applies a collaborative problem solving process

Scroll through below to see some of the course materials.

Thanks to generous support from the Walton Family Foundation and Rocky Mountain Power, we are offering scholarships to help cover tuition costs for participants who might not be able to otherwise participate. Please indicate your interest in financial assistance on the application form.

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Application Form

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CPNR Prospectus cover

CPNR Prospectus

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UNCG Guide cover thumbnail

UNCG Guide

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Screen shot of Meyers-Briggs website

Meyers-Briggs Test

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Jessical Clement, Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources

Dr. Jessica Western, CPNR Director

(307) 766-5048  |  jessica.western@uwyo.eduWebsite

A senior research scientist in human dimensions of natural resources at the Ruckelshaus Institute, Dr. Western brings expertise in collaborative governance and collaborative learning related to forests, wildlife, recreation, public lands, and other resources. She previously co-directed the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute at Colorado State University. She has created and facilitated collaborative processes related to natural resource issues for more than 15 years in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

Steve Smutko, Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Dr. Steve Smutko, Spicer Chair in Collaborative Practice

(307) 766-2703  |  |  Website

Professor and Spicer Chair in Collaborative Practice, also at the Ruckelshaus Institute, Dr. Smutko co-teaches the CPNR training sessions. He has designed, convened, and facilitated numerous public policy decision processes on natural resources issues in the Rocky Mountain West and the southeast United States. Dr. Smutko also conducts research in collaborative decision-making and teaches courses to University of Wyoming students and to natural resource stakeholders in environmental decision making and negotiation analysis.

Program Sponsors

Rocky Mountain Power logo

The Collaboration Program is supported by the Spicer Family Foundation, with additional support from the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation.


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Contact Us

Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Bim Kendall House

804 E Fremont St

Laramie, WY 82072

Phone: (307) 766-5080

Fax: (307) 766-5099


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