Concurrent Session: Wetlands and people
1:30 PM - 2:50 PM Wed
CO-AUTHORS: Dan Collins, Land Restoration School (LRS); Chris Young, LRS
TITLE: The Land Restoration School: Preparing the next wave of ecological restoration practitioners
ABSTRACT: We face the challenge of needing many more ecological restorationists in a community of practitioners working to address ecosystem and wetland health. To help address this challenge, the Land Restoration School (LRS) formed in 2021 and launched an inaugural course in summer 2022 in northeastern Wisconsin. The LRS provides paid stipends and residency in support of a just and equitable program for up to twelve adult participants from diverse hometowns and experiences. We offered an immersive course on the principles, practice, and planning of ecological restoration for degraded lands and wetlands, awarding a badge upon completion. Every weekday for eight weeks together allowed us to connect natural sciences and theory with field methods and observation. The curriculum is designed to complement or, for some, modestly replace a degree program. The LRS featured expertise from guest faculty drawn from academic institutions and private practice who share a commitment to the school’s mission and are invested in its outcomes. With integrated topics in soils, hydrology, botany, community ecology, and human engagement, participants’ work culminated in developing ecological restoration plans for actual sites. In this talk, we review the structural framework—an investment in ‘big seeds’—including paid stipend, residency, learning landscapes, facilities, funding methods, affiliations, and followup community-building in 2022, and changes that we plan for 2023. This talk is the what-why-and-where of the LRS. (See our complementary poster for the who-and-how, which assesses the transformation of participants in the eight-week process.)
BIO: Nancy Aten (she/her) has Master’s degrees in Engineering and Landscape Architecture and is a licensed landscape architect and a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner. She is principal of Landscapes of Place, offering landscape restoration planning and design, ecological restoration, and land stewardship services.