Undergraduate Involvement with the Center for Collaborative Conservation
June 12, 2018
By: Andra Thaden
From the moment Tim Reader of the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) asked if I wanted to be part of a project involving the Center of Collaborative Conservation I was ecstatic! To be able to be part of a project that would be so beneficial to the biomass community is very exciting to me! Hello, my name is Andra Thaden, and I have been the college undergraduate from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado on the 2-3-2 Community Biomass Enterprise Development Team (2-3-2 CBD). My major is in Environmental Studies, and I am working towards my GIS Certificate. I believe that working with CSFS provides me the perfect platform to accelerate my academic career and prepare me for “the real world”.
If you did not have the chance to read our first blog post, the 2-3-2 CBD is a large collaborative group made up of a bunch of smaller local collaborative groups and stakeholders from northern NM and southern CO. It also includes state and local government agencies and non-profit organizations. The goal of the 2-3-2 CBD is to support collaborative outreach and assistance to the woody biomass industry businesses and communities within the 2-3-2 Cohesive Strategic Forest Partnership (2-3-2 Forest Partnership) boundary.
Experiences to Date
Working with the 2-3-2 CBD has be amazing so far. I have learned more about collaboration and the importance of involvement than ever before. I have participated in many great meetings that have yielded remarkable ideas and suggestions on how to help these biomass communities in this area. The first meeting that I attended was geared towards establishing what the 2-3-2 stood for and began organizing it into a series of subcommittees. That is where the 2-3-2 CBD was developed. Next came the funding piece. One of the most significant things that I have worked on so far has been the grant that would fund the 2-3-2 CBD’s projects. Personally, I consider this a major stepping-stone in both my academic as well as professional careers. The 2-3-2 CBD received $8,000 from the CCC to support collaborative outreach and assistance. I have also been continuously working on a map of the 2-3-2 CBD program. This map includes National Forest lands, Tribal lands, the 2-3-2 boundary, and biomass industries. This map will help members of the 2-3-2 CBD identify communities that have traditionally experienced high unemployment and low wages. The goal is to aid in increasing sustainable employment yielding business growth and investments.
Guidance to the Future
I look forward to the transition from my academic career into my professional career. By participating as a team member of the 2-3-2 CBD, I would like to acknowledge the amazing opportunities that I have had so far. My involvement in meetings has really helped me become more comfortable with public speaking and voicing my opinions. In addition, just by being affiliated with individuals of such knowledge inspires me to do research on my own time to fully understand everything that is discussed. Learning about collaboration and seeing first-hand what it can accomplish has shaped my ideas about group work and how multiple brains are sometimes more beneficial than just one. I have gained a lot of exposure into the real world by being a part of this project, and to think this is just the beginning is very exciting. By working with the 2-3-2 I look forward to what I will learn, who I will have the opportunity to collaborate with, and what benefits can be determined through the efforts of the 2-3-2 CBD.
So, What’s Next?
Many great things are on the horizon for the 2-3-2 CBD. I will be continuing to work on improving our 2-3-2 map, developing a report of my experiences gained, and providing any assistance that I can to the 2-3-2 CBD. Tim Reader is also working with three MBA students from CSU that are investigating biomass facility opportunities to prepare formal business plan/investment prospectus. As part of the requirements of our CCC grant, Tim has also proposed to host the other CCC project teams to Southwest Colorado in order to deliver a bit of “classroom” training on forest Collaboratives and expose them to some of our biomass businesses. These are not the only things that the 2-3-2 CBD has in mind moving forward. There are many good things coming!
On a more personal note, I am heading to Iceland in August for two weeks to fulfill an internship through Global Treks and Adventures. I will be working with a group of eight other students to map a series of trails and write trail descriptions for a region in Southern Iceland. The outcome of this internship will be a professional publication where I will be able to display my GIS skills that I have learned by working with CSFS. I am very excited to have this opportunity and will cherish every moment!