A successful course is one that trains students to think critically and gives them opportunities to apply concepts to real world scenarios. For students to understand ecological theory, they must connect abstract concepts with processes that occur in natural ecosystems. To encourage such synthesis, I place a strong emphasis on experiential, interactive learning. Class discussions, small group activities, and labs are the foundation of my courses, with lectures and readings designed to support these active learning experiences. Many of my courses include a field component, allowing students to learn on the land and link concepts to reality. My curricula and semester plan are, however, working documents that are constantly adapted to incorporate new ideas and eliminate unsuccessful activities. I strive to train students to think critically and conceptually by: 1) incorporating multiple activities into lectures, 2) engaging students in experiential learning and the scientific process, and 3) integrating science communication into course activities.
At Cal Poly, I teach the following forestry and ecology courses:
NR141 Intro to Forest Ecosystems (Syllabus): This course introduces students to all aspects of multiple-use forest ecosystem management. Students learn the terminology and concepts associated with forest ecosystems and leave the course with an improved understanding of forest conservation and management. The aim of the course is to provide students will an opportunity to explore the many aspects of and opportunities within this field of study.
NR306 Natural Resource Ecology & Habitat Management (Syllabus): Ecologists study the distribution and abundance of organisms and how organisms interact with each other and with their environment. In this course, students will have the opportunity to learn about ecological patterns and the processes generating these patterns. Course material will demonstrate how basic ecological principles may be applied to the study of practical ecological problems. The lab section will familiarize students with hypothesis testing and instruct them in methods used to address ecological questions.
NR365 Silviculture (Syllabus): Silviculture is the art and science of caring for and cultivating forests to meet our diverse needs and values. This course covers the principles, concepts, and, issues associated with silviculture and vegetation management. Students gain a greater respect for the complexity of achieving ecosystem management objectives through the implementation of silvicultural prescriptions. Students also learn that management is associated with balancing local ecological, economic, and social values. The course covers common techniques but focuses on the importance of understanding the local species and forest ecosystems when making management decisions. Overnight and weekend field trips.
NR465 Ecosystem Management: This course is designed to provide a capstone experience for ENVM and FNR majors. Ecosystem management serves this purpose since it is, by its very nature, an integrative approach to management. The course integrates various natural resource and human systems as well as the disciplines of experts needed to guide the management process.
NR470 Sierra Nevada Forest Ecology (Syllabus): Advanced ecological, biogeographical, and silvicultural exploration of Sierra Nevada forests. Designed to support critical thinking skills for application to forest management/conservation. Includes review and interpretation of scientific literature, interaction with managers/researchers, development of observational/field skills, and scientific writing. This course trains students in foundational concepts in forest ecology and management of Sierra Nevada forests and includes a 10-day field study. Students will visit forest ecosystems from the southern Sierra Nevada to Yosemite National Park and visit a wide range of forest types along the way (e.g. Yucca breifolia, Pinus balfouriana, Pinus albicaulis, and Sierra mixed-conifer). Camping required.
NR478 Current Topics in Environmental Science & Management (Syllabus): This course is designed to train students in critical evaluation and formal presentation of current topics in environmental science and management. Students are tasked with identifying, evaluating, and presenting key issues related to conservation and management activities, such as water and soil conservation, sustainable fisheries, fuel reduction activities, assisted migration, and climate change mitigation. A variety of individual and group assignments prepare students to critically evaluate controversial topics, analyze the reliability of source information, identify strong supporting evidence, synthesize knowledge, and produce professional, thorough presentations of material.
NR534 Ecosystem Modeling (Graduate Level): This course trains students in methods and modeling approaches used in quantifying ecological processes and conditions, such as species distributions, community structure, fire behavior, wildland hydrology, and terrestrial and aquatic habitat condition. The course requires an understanding of statistics but will focus on the application of statistical and modeling techniques to address ecological and environmental questions using various programs, including R, MaxEnt, ArcGIS, and OpenLCA. Course topics and programs will vary by quarter and instructor. The goal of this course is to provide tools and working time for the completion of quantitative graduate thesis tasks.