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Development of a Strategy to Reach Farmers and Ranchers that are Historically Underserved by Conservation Programs in Texas and Oklahoma Grasslands

Research Location: Graslands of Texas and Oklahoma, USA
Conservation Partners: American Bird Conservancy and the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture

Student Researcher

Natalie Spage '23, Major: Geology

Project Description

Increasing conservation capacity on private lands is essential for habitat and species conservation in North America. A critical part of this includes engaging historically underserved farmers/ranchers and empowering them to participate in conservation. Filling this gap will require the integration of local knowledge and practices with conservation program practices, consideration of the goals of these communities and how conservation programs can help reach those goals, and review of how conservation programs and organizations can adjust to be more inclusive, diverse, and welcoming to these communities. Achieving this will require expertise and integration across disciplines such as human dimensions; communications and outreach; justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI); conservation programs and organizations; and habitat management for priority species.

Natalie worked with the Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture Program and partners to develop a strategy that can be used to guide engagement with historically underserved farmers and ranchers. This includes research on the motivations of partners to expand the diversity of partners, the barriers to participation in conservation programs and recommendations for overcoming them, identification of conservation/habitat programs that are targeted to historically underserved people and their requirements, and investigation of areas in which changes could be made that will improve justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) in the habitat delivery arena for the joint venture and its partners. This research and its corresponding strategic plan is being used to increase the OPJV's involvement with historically underserved communities, thus increasing these communities' access to conservation programs and resources and the conservation capacity of the OPJV. The ideal outcome of this project is the inclusion of new conservation programs directed towards the historically underserved in the "toolbox" of OPJV and partner biologists and the participation of the historically underserved in more conservation programs and projects across multiple agencies and organizations.

Faculty Mentors
Dr. Robert Rose and Dr. Mara Dicenta
Project ID - Format
22-022-21 - CRP Year-long