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Ruckelshaus Institute|Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources

Collaboration Program in Natural Resources, Ruckelshaus Institute

Building Collaborative Capacity

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 earn academic credit through the University of Wyoming. More importantly, they 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.


Jessical Clement, Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources

Dr. Jessica Western, CPNR Director

(307) 766-5048  |  |  Website

A 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

The Collaboration Program is supported by the Spicer Family Foundation, with additional support from the Rocky Mountain Power Foundation to offset costs for students.

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