Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Resource Conservation

Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Jill Belsky

Commitee Members

James Burchfield, Steve Siebert


participatory research


University of Montana


As the community forestry movement matures, a question remains regarding what kind of educational experience nurtures and inspires people in community forestry? This thesis seeks to contribute to a better understanding of community forestry education by examining a field educational program known as “Landscape and Livelihood” (LL) offered by Northwest Connections, a small community-based conservation organization in the upper Swan Valley of western Montana. Based on extensive interviews, observation and the author’s own personal experience as a former LL student, the thesis documents the program’s use of field ecological studies involving both scientific and local knowledge integrated with journaling, homestays, and involvement in Swan community activities such as fuelwood gathering and citizen science projects. Analysis of interview data was informed by key concepts and concerns from popular, place-based and process educational theories. The results suggest that the LL program contributed to students gaining a more nuanced understanding of and appreciation for rural people and their forest-based connections, knowledge and livelihoods, and a greater sense of joy, hope, and inspiration for participating in conservation related activities in the future. Swan residents who participated as homestay families gained validation of their local knowledge and role as community forestry educators and also experienced joy, hope and inspiration for the future as a result of their interaction with students and the LL field semester. The thesis concludes on the possibilities generated by LL for community forestry and lessons for community forestry education more generally.



© Copyright 2007 Joanna Elizabeth Seibert