Underlying many “wicked” ecological problems is a tug-of-war that pits the needs and values of some stakeholders against others who use natural resources in different ways. Many ecologists are deeply invested in research that informs scientific aspects of these issues. Beyond the science, however, addressing conservation challenges requires understanding how ecological processes exist in a social context, and being able to interact with diverse stakeholders. This paradigm is steadily infiltrating academic life and becoming more commonplace in graduate training programs. But why wait? Learning to bridge academic objectives with public interests can be transformative for undergraduates as well. We present a case study in which undergraduates from UW-Madison conducted community-focused independent research to evaluate a stream restoration project in southern Wisconsin. At each stage they interacted with state agency workers, a local watershed organization and Trout Unlimited to generate ideas, share data and increase awareness of restoration ecology. Based on this experience we suggest ways for mentors and students to facilitate community-engaged undergraduate research, and provide insights into challenges and benefits of interacting with community stakeholders during undergraduate training.


Cromwell, K. J., University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, kcromwell@wisc.edu

Osvatic, J. T., University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, osvatic@wisc.edu

Weinkauf, E. N., University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, eweinkauf@wisc.edu

Peckarsky, B. L., University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, peckarsky@wisc.edu


Poster presentation

Session #:078
Date: 5/20/2014
Time: 18:00 - 20:00
Location: Poster/Exhibit Hall

Presentation is given by student: Yes

PosterID: 253