In my 20-some odd years, I have produced several works of which I feel particularly represent my experience and interests. Many are the product of a course assignment and others had different driving factors. My passions are intertwined in each of them.
In spring of 2011, I completed a thesis for Oregon State’s University Honors College. The abstract of my thesis, “Our Natural Family: A study of young children and how we connect with nature,” and a link to the full text are given below.
While humans are inextricably connected to nature, we live in a world whose anthropocentric fixation on progress begins severing that connection at birth. Through research with young children, their parents, and their care-providers, this project helped fill the research gap in early childhood ecological education by helping identify children’s ways of thinking about and interacting with nature and assessing their potential for developing a love of nature and all living things. A review of current literature focused on the general categories of environmental education, early childhood education, and the relationship between the two and how they influence a child’s understanding of and attitude towards the natural world. Case study findings revealed the potential for future research on young children’s environmental awareness and the many ways adults can help guide a young child’s growing positive relationship with nature.
Master’s Group Thesis Project
In spring of 2013, my master’s group project completed our thesis for the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. The Tejon Ranch Conservancy, our group’s client, approached the Bren School for help with its public access management plan for the Tejon Ranch. The abstract of our project, “Developing Public Access Resource Assessments and Plans at Tejon Ranch, California,” and a link to the full text are given below.
At 270,000 acres, Tejon Ranch is the largest private contiguous landholding in California. The Ranch spans four ecological regions—Mojave Desert, Coastal Range, Central Valley, and Sierra Nevada. It is habitat for the endangered California condor and is home to many other rare, threatened, and interesting flora and fauna. In 2008, the Tejon Ranch Company (TRC) and five environmental organizations signed the Tejon Ranch Conservation and Land Use Agreement, creating the Tejon Ranch Conservancy and conserving in perpetuity 240,000 acres of the Ranch. Enjoyment of the Ranch by the public is a high priority for TRC and the five environmental organizations. The Agreement mandates that a Public Access Plan be included in the Ranch-Wide Management Plan, which is due June 2013. While guided public access is currently implemented, the long-term goal of the Conservancy and TRC is to expand its program and activities, especially regarding community education and opportunities for underserved populations. No previous extensive analysis has examined current public access activities on the Ranch or opportunities for future expansion. Our research helps fill this gap by: 1) understanding the Ranch’s public access niche by looking at public access in surrounding areas; 2) gauging visitor experience through an online survey; and 3) evaluating resource opportunities and constraints for management using geospatial analysis and by developing a tool for the Conservancy to assess impacts. Our findings provide the basis for several recommendations for planning, management, and expansion of public access on Tejon Ranch.