Ryan Roberts, who joined the PLJV staff as a social science specialist in mid-July, will spend much of his time for the first few years focused on a new NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant project that integrates social science and communications to inform brush management in six conservation districts in Kansas and Oklahoma.
Ryan will lead the social science portion of the project, aimed at understanding producer decision-making related to invasive woody plant encroachment, and work with communications staff to integrate that information into targeted communication messages and products that address those barriers and aim to increase participation in management actions.
“I am really excited to get into the data collection and analysis, and am also looking forward to meeting partners and forging strong relationships,” Ryan said.
Following a similar process used to understand landowner attitudes about playas and playa conservation, this project will help us learn about the barriers and motivations for brush management, which will inform the development and evaluation of communication messages to promote brush management. Throughout the project, we will be working with local partners to deliver these messages to producers through targeted marketing communications campaigns and producer-focused outreach events.
Receiving a PhD in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, Ryan’s dissertation fieldwork focused on assessing the role of scientific evidence in collaborative approaches to water and wildfire management throughout the Intermountain West. He believes that understanding stakeholder beliefs around phenomena occurring in the natural world is critical to ensuring successful conservation work.
“Having that human element can help us to better understand the issue holistically and ensure the success of these programs in the long run,” Ryan said.