This year’s graduates of SoHE’s applied master’s degree in human ecology present capstone projects reflecting their wide-ranging professional skills and the human ecological approach to advancing well-being in society. While they typically come together in a symposium to share their work, this year they did so virtually. View these students’ project abstracts and links to their presentations below.
While the past ten years have seen many changes in the field of environmental education, including drastic cuts to statewide programs, more and more people are recognizing—particularly in light of the pandemic—the importance of connecting to nature. Using this momentum and mentality, and working with key stakeholders from across the state, I co-created an evaluation plan to assess a decade-old state strategic plan. This evaluation will inform a revised strategic plan that recognizes the importance of human–nature connection and creates a meaningful message to share with policymakers. I conducted this work in partnership with the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education.
2020 was a complicated year. Nonprofit organizations had to pause, rethink, and adapt to constant challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Art$upport Fund initiated this project to focus on the learnings and experiences of three small arts organizations in Wisconsin as they journeyed through the pandemic. Through a series of interviews, we explored initial thoughts from the early shutdowns through to present-day obstacles. Our interviews covered many topics including technology innovations, event planning, the relationship between health and art, as well as reflections on what the future may hold. This project contributes to a larger goal of building connections and resiliency among arts organizations across Wisconsin.
The racial and economic health disparities outlined in the 2019 Dane County Needs Assessment are appalling. Be Well Madison, a local nonprofit organization, has the mission to increase equitable access to wellness services in the community, specifically for low-income and BIPOC community members. Be Well’s goal is to help narrow the equity gap by providing these services at low or no cost. Throughout this semester, I have been working with Be Well to promote its mission by helping to define the organization’s goals and priorities in developing strategic partnerships, apply for sustainable funding, and direct its organizational efforts to stay in line with its mission. This project’s outcomes will equitably enhance Madison’s community wellness.
Immigrant communities across the United States face many barriers to civic participation. Civic engagement includes involvement and connection with neighbors and communities. Understanding civic engagement among Wisconsin’s foreign-born communities is difficult due to barriers such as language, transportation, and digital literacy, as well as a lack of information on how they engage. To address this, a town hall was hosted through the Civic Health of Wisconsin Initiative with organizations that engage with foreign-born individuals. Themes from the event discussions included barriers, current support provided by organizations, and recommendations to implement in future strategic initiatives with Civic Health of Wisconsin and Wisconsin organizations serving these communities.
For my capstone project, I provided nonprofit leadership and organizational development to board members of Latinos Unidos (LU). The mission of LU is to serve, educate, empower, and connect the Latinx community to resources in Fond du Lac county. The goal of my project was for board members to have a good understanding of the bylaws and to develop more autonomy and leadership capacity to move the organization forward without a coordinator. It is important to note that LU is currently in its infancy stage, and many of the board members are non-English speakers. Therefore, working with a culturally competent graduate student was key to carrying out the project.