Class at side of stream -  Ecosystem Management PSM Degree at The University of Northern Iowa

What is Ecosystem Management?

From J. Stan Rowe (1992):

Ecosystem management is "the application of the ecosystem approach in the conservation, management, and restoration of regional and local landscape ecosystems. It means that everyone attends to the conservation and sustainability of ecosystems, instead of sharply focusing on the productivity of individual or competing resources -- which has been our traditional mode of operation."

PSM-EM Team Projects

Unlike a conventional MS or MA degree, the Professional Science Master's degree does not include a scholarly research thesis or review paper.

Instead, students in the Ecosystem Management Program are assigned to a project for two semesters, working closely with faculty, natural resource professionals and community members on and off campus to carry out a significant, multidisciplinary project, usually involving multiple stakeholders.

Students practice communication skills, project management, and effective team process. They learn first-hand how to recognize and overcome obstacles to progress. There are many opportunities for students to present their work at local and regional meetings.

Examples of Student Team Projects

  • Natural Resource Inventory and Management Plan (2007-ongoing) for several county-owned natural areas in Black Hawk County. Students developed management plans, organized volunteer work days and conducted public presentations to share results, worked closely with County staff. Introduced the use of Geographic Information Systems for planning and record keeping.
  • Prairie Power Project (2007-2009). A wide-ranging project to assess the feasibility of using mixed native prairie for production of fuel as well as soil conservation and wildlife value. Ecosystem Management students worked closely with staff of the Tallgrass Prairie Center and USDA soil scientists to establish research plots, conduct publicize the project.
  • Hartman Reserve Raingarden Project (2007-2008). Watershed assessment of an urban nature preserve subject to impacts of stormwater flow from neighboring urban land uses. Worked with Soil and Water Conservation District, Natural Resources Conservation District, and citizens groups; carried out a neighborhood survey, and wrote a grant proposal (awarded) to install raingardens in the area.
  • UNI Campus Stormwater Project (2008-ongoing). Worked closely with Facilities Planning Department of the University, technical and scientific staff of the Soil and Water Conservation District, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, NRCS and other agencies to design and carry out stream restoration along a section of Dry Run Creek near the University Campus, and participate in establishment of other structures.
  • Prairie Roots Project (2009- ongoing). Designed and managed construction of a "big pots facility" to grow and preserve the roots of perennial prairie plants. Developed materials for nature centers and other educational venues to display root specimens and interpret the role of perennial native vegetation as providers of ecosystem services. Partners include Iowa Department of Transportation-Living Roadway Trust Fund, UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center and The Land Institute, Salina Kansas.