2015 Sustaining Our World Lecture: Molly Steinwald!

For our annual Sustaining Our World Lecture coming up on April 2, we are extremely pleased to welcome Molly Steinwald, the new executive director of the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach, Fla.: “Human[-]Nature: Care for Our World is Care for Ourselves.”

Molly SteinwaldMolly Steinwald is a science and environmental educator, writer, photographer and researcher, and before taking on her current role with the Environmental Learning Center she served as director of science education and research at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, Pa. Her research interests range from animal behavior and wildlife genetics to plant community composition and environmental psychology, and much of her recent work involves environmental education and empowerment for non-traditional audiences. Steinwald has more than 15 years of teaching experience at the undergraduate and graduate level to science and non-science majors and K-12 teachers, in formal and informal learning settings—and in topics ranging from physiology and ecology to molecular biology and plant-people interactions.

The lecture is open to the public and will be held on Thursday, April 2, from 6 to 7 p.m. in Kane Hall 210. Event registration is free, but please RSVP as soon as possible to make sure we have enough seating for everyone!

About the Talk
A growing body of work is showing that people are spending an overwhelming amount of time indoors, in front of screens, interacting less with other living creatures and less with each other. At the same time, the incidence of depression, child and adult obesity, ADHD and more is growing at an alarming rate. And still, many suffer the effects of socioeconomic hardship.

Environmental scientists and educators are beginning to recognize that traditional methods of outreach and education promoting conservation behaviors are not enough. Stepping back and recognizing the many facets of humanity that make up “the public”—focusing on their interests, needs and barriers to environmental behavior change—and partnering with individuals and organizations across disciplines is requisite. Similarly, research is increasingly pointing to contact with nature as therapy, and engagement in sustainability-focused programs can provide professional skills. So by re-envisioning environmental education and outreach programs so that human well-being and empowerment are considered as equally important to improving the state of the environment, we can work to overcome the human-nature divide—such that caring for the environment means also caring for self and loved ones.

We hope you can join us. Register today!

Emeritus Spotlight: Bruce Bare

“This isn’t something I ever thought I was going to do—I never thought about being a professor when I was growing up,” says Dean and Professor Emeritus Bruce Bare, who recently retired after more than 45 years as a faculty member with the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS). Yet even if Bare never planned on a life in academia, he certainly embraced the role and flourished in his nearly half a century as a professor.

Bruce Bare

Bruce Bare’s academic career with SEFS touched six decades, and he never slowed down from his first days on campus in 1969 to his final hours in the office.

In measuring his extensive career, the arithmetic looks simple yet encompasses so much more than an accumulation of years. Bare has been part of this school for more than 42 percent of its existence, serving on countless committees and holding leadership roles from director of the Center for Quantitative Science to eight years as dean of the college. He was an early adopter and innovator of computer technologies, and he taught everything from forest management, policy and planning, to operations research, statistics and calculus.

He is, almost without parallel, a massive storehouse of institutional memory, and a bridge to some of the earliest faculty and deans who helped shape this school. Take a look at the faculty photos on the bottom floor of Bloedel Hall, and you’ll notice there’s only one of an active professor who arrived before Bare did—Professor Graham Allen. The rest came in Bare’s wake, and he outlasted a great many of them, too.

With that kind of tenure, it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t already have at least a few stories to tell. So rather than rehash the most recent steps in Bare’s journey, we thought we’d focus on a few of his earlier memories and (possibly) lesser-known endeavors. In each, we hope, there’s something that helps capture the spirit of Bare’s thoroughly distinguished career.

Indiana Roots
“My mother, for some unknown reason, thought I should be an architect,” says Bare, who was born in South Bend, Ind., in 1942. “I don’t know where that came from. I had taken a drafting class in high school, but I had no talent for perspective drawings, and my handwriting was never good, so I knew that wasn’t going to fly.”

He didn’t have a lot of other clear ideas to run with, either, but he knew he enjoyed playing sports and spending time outdoors. Year-round, even in the worst of an Indiana winter, Bare would carve out a space to be active. “I’d shovel the snow off our basketball court and use a long extension cord to stick the floodlight out there and play until 10 at night,” he says. “Of course, the ball wouldn’t bounce because it was so damn cold, so it was a lot of pass and shoot.”

The tougher task was figuring out how to direct his interests after high school, but at least the results of a few aptitude tests were unanimous: He should do something that let him work outside.

“Where I come from, working outside means being a farmer,” says Bare, but since his family didn’t own any farm land, he was pretty sure his future wasn’t in agriculture. While paging through a Purdue University catalog, though, he noticed a forestry degree listed as part of the College of Agriculture’s offerings. “It described employment and working for the Forest Service and getting to manage national forests,” he says. “I thought, ‘I would like to do that,’ so I decided to go to Purdue to study forestry.”

Bruce Bare

Bare outside of Anderson Hall in the 1970s. He was initially hired with a joint appointment in the College of Fisheries, but he then joined the College of Forest Resources full-time in 1973 and was awarded tenure in 1976.

Oregon Trial
The forestry curriculum at Purdue was fairly regimented, allowing only two forestry courses toward Bare’s degree his first year. He found a more immersive experience that first summer, however, when he got a job with the Forest Service in southern Oregon. Bare remembers driving to Chicago, where he caught the Great Northern Railway’s Empire Builder to Portland, then switched to the Coast Starlight to Klamath Falls, and then finally caught a ride on the Red Ball Stage to the ranger station in Bly, Ore. (Bare was disappointed to discover it was not an actual stagecoach).

He was assigned to the helitack fire crew for the Fremont National Forest. The team consisted of four students and the pilot, and they relied on a tiny chopper with no doors. Luckily, they didn’t have too many fires that summer, but one night Bare recalls getting dropped by himself to tackle a small fire. Planes had already been through and doused most of the blaze, so Bare’s task was to stamp out the last smoke and embers. He was armed only with a small backpack, a shovel and a pulaski, a wildland firefighting tool with an axe and hoe on the same head (good for both chopping and digging a firebreak). “That was it,” he says. “No saw, no water, no reinforcements. So I spent the whole night trying to put out that little fire until they came back to pick me up the next day.”

Then, around Labor Day they got one final call to help with a fire. “We’re flying over this big valley,” says Bare, “and the engine quits in the chopper—just like it snapped. The pilot is just sitting there, and nobody said a word. There are no doors on this little bubble, and you could hear the wind whistling as you’re falling.”

It happened so fast that Bare says he never thought he was going to die. But he remembers when they were careening toward a boulder field, about 10 feet from the ground, when the pilot flared up the nose of the helicopter just before crashing. They hit the ground and spun around a few times, and when they finally came to a rest, the only thing the pilot said was, “Whoo. We’d better get away from here in case there’s a fire.”

Nobody was visibly hurt, and they all walked away from the wreck. Yet Bare did leave with a few misgivings about helicopters. “I’ve flown in choppers since, but I’m not a big fan of them,” he says. “They don’t look like they should be airborne.”

On the March
In those days, everybody at Purdue had to serve two years in the military, says Bare, and since he had been a drummer in high school, he opted to fulfill his service with the military band.

The marching band outfit was quite large, with some 250 members, and Bare signed on with the drum corps. During the fall, that meant playing at football games, and during the winter it meant performing at basketball games and other functions. They marched in a big military parade in the spring, and even got to play at the Indianapolis 500.

What Bare remembers most—aside from the famous “Golden Girl,” a sequined twirler who performed with the marching band—was the intense rehearsing and choreography. “Every autumn day, rain or shine, we marched out,” he says. They would get arrayed in a long column and then play their cadence while marching through town from the music hall to the practice grounds—and then back again. “This was a big operation,” he says. “By the time you strung it out, we were about a quarter-mile long. It was a lot of marching.”

Bruce Bare

Bare actually went to the same high school—and later college—as SEFS Professor Emeritus Dave Manuwal; they even took a biology class together.

Lesson Learned
During his second summer, Bare completed an internship at an old Civilian Conservation Corps camp in the northeast corner of Wisconsin, and then after his junior year he took a final internship with the Forest Service in the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. That summer, while living in a trailer at 9,600 feet of elevation, he worked on regeneration surveys, lodgepole pine timber sales, cruising and marking the road rights-of-way. But he says he picked up his most valuable lesson when he accompanied a friend, Floyd Wilson, to haul two donkeys back from Wyoming.

It was the Fourth of July weekend, and they hauled a horse trailer behind Floyd’s little Dodge Valiant. When they finally reached the town of Pavillion, Wy., Floyd labored to get his donkeys, named Jack and Jill, properly lined up in the trailer. The donkeys refused to stand parallel to each other, and the only way Floyd eventually succeeded was by shoving one of the donkeys in the opposite direction of where he wanted it to go—and then the donkey obliged by resisting him in the right direction.

“They’re so stubborn, you have to do the opposite of what you want them to do,” says Bare. “I never forgot that lesson, and I used it quite a few times in my career. Sometimes, when you want someone to do something they’re resisting, push them in the opposite direction and they often push back in the right direction.”

Numbers Game
In the spring of his senior year, Bare took a computer programming course using Fortran, which IBM had developed in the 1950s. The instructor was one of his favorite professors, Otis Hall, and Bare immediately connected with the technology. “That was my first introduction to analysis and programming,” he says, “and most of this was doing simple things—a table of interest rates and basal area factors, inventory analysis, that kind of stuff. It was an old computer, an IBM 1620 located in the Ag Experiment Station.”

Later, after earning his bachelor’s in 1964, Bare headed up to the University of Minnesota to begin his master’s program in statistics, biometry and forest inventory. The first thing they had him do was help sort through a pile of Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) plot records from the Cloquet Valley State Forest Forest. He had just spent the previous summer working with Cal Stott, the father of modern continuous forest inventory, and Bare again found himself working through inventory records, volume calculations and statistical analyses. He started reading books about powerful new machines and real-time computing, where you could get results almost immediately instead of waiting a few hours, or even overnight. And by the time he finished his degree in 1965, he was hooked on analytics and the rapidly evolving computer industry.

Bruce Bare

Bare, left, with Orin Soest, Jack Corkery and Dick Denman at the UW Foundation Gala during his time as dean.

Soon after that, Bare’s old advisor, Professor Hall, encouraged him to come back to Purdue to get his Ph.D. Hall had secured a National Defense Education Act fellowship that would pay him for two years, and Bare loved the opportunity to learn more about computers and operations research.

The core of his doctoral work, in fact, involved designing a computerized teaching tool to help with forest management training and experimentation. His creation, the Purdue Forest Management Game, allowed students to manage a simulated forest and to react to a variety of random events, such as forest fires, price changes and other triggers. The original program was designed to let students practice developing a one- to three-year plan that included operations like harvesting, regeneration and road building, and all with a specified annual budget and harvest quota (a later addition would incorporate longer-term planning). Within the game, there were three different forest districts, and teams of students competed to see who could do the best job managing their district.

Bare’s program proved so successful that several other universities used it in the 1970s, including the universities of Georgia, Iowa State, Michigan, Penn State and NC State.

A Taxing Diversion
Within five years of earning his bachelor’s, Bare had completed his Ph.D. in 1969, and not long afterward he had a job offer from Penn State—as well as an invitation to interview for a faculty position with the College of Forest Resources at UW. “If you’re going to make it in forestry, you might as well come where forestry is king,” says Bare. “That’s why I didn’t go to Penn State. The biggest challenge was out here.”

He was hired as an assistant professor to work in the Center for Quantitative Science (CQS) and arrived on campus in August 1969. Back then, CQS occupied its own building down by the hospital, and Bare initially had a joint appointment with the College of Fisheries. Not until 1973 did he move into Anderson Hall and become full-time with forestry, and by 1976 he had been promoted and awarded tenure. He would go on to teach dozens of courses, from operations research and computer programming to forest management and policy, quantitative methods for forest planning, statistics, financial management for foresters, computer-based modeling and many others.

Bruce Bare

Bare with Bill Gates, Sr., on Azalea Way in the Arboretum after a tree-planting ceremony in 2007.

He maintained an active research program, as well, and one of his more memorable projects involved researching how to tax timber in Washington and how to better manage large tracts of land for many uses on a sustainable basis. “The forest industry was moving from an extractive to a plantation-based industry,” he says, where “you have to manage resources entirely different. I was interested because it was a mixture of the analytics I knew well, with application to a real-world environment.”

Bare and his colleague, Professor Barney Dowdle, ended up having numerous serious discussions over the most appropriate way to tax forests under transition from an old-growth to a plantation basis. Eventually, they settled on a compromise wherein the basis of the plantation property tax should be the land value plus the reforestation investment required to initiate the next timber crop. The legislative debate that ensued extended for almost 15 years before the state settled on a permanent solution.

Managing large forested water basins for multiple uses also attracted Bare and Professors Bethel and Schreuder to develop a spatially oriented simulation model through the National Science Foundation. This multi-year effort was one of the first of its kind in this region and allowed agency and private land managers to experiment with alternative land use strategies over time, while viewing environmental as well as societal impacts of their proposed actions.

Barely Gone
From his first days on campus in 1969 to his final hours in the office last quarter, Bare never slowed down or stepped away from the action. He kept working on new research, including the 2013 Western Washington Hardwood Assessment, and served as director of the Institute of Forest Resources up until his final months. He showed up for pretty much every school event and served on numerous committees, and he continued—continues, rather—to awe everyone with his running regimen, routinely logging 40-plus miles a week.

As such a fixture for so long, with a career that touched six decades, Bare’s absence is already palpable. Sure, it’s only been a few weeks, but there’s no question—if you can excuse such an unpardonable pun—these halls are noticeably more bare without him.

Photos © Bruce Bare and SEFS.

Bruce Bare

Bare, far right, at the 2014 SEFS Graduation Ceremony.

Tell Us: What Was Your First Job After College?

In the last issue of Roots, our alumni e-newsletter, we asked our graduates to tell us about their first jobs out of college. Lindsay Malone (’03, B.A., journalism and political science; ’07, M.S., forest resources) now works for the Northwest Natural Resource Group, and here’s what she remembers about her first summer job after undergrad:

Lindsay Malone

“Getting paid to camp or stay in the Blue Top Motel in Coulee City, Wash., are highlights in my career and some of the most fun I’ve had while working,” says Malone.

“Three days after commencement in 2003, I was in the C10 parking lot outside Anderson Hall loading a UW Motorpool rig full of field equipment. That was a familiar ritual after a few years of wildlife science classes, but this was no field trip—it was the first day of my new job as a field assistant for the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit.

Bob Gitzen, who had earned his Ph.D. in wildlife science from SEFS, hired me to work on a small mammal sampling project, part of the wildlife study on Conservation Reserve Program lands in Eastern Washington. I’d been introduced to the shrub-steppe of the Columbia Plateau a handful of times, but this was this field season that instilled in me an admiration for the sagebrush and bunch grass ecosystems that span the West. Our work started in mid-June, just when heat waves begin to roll across the hills of basalt, sage and wheat. Long hot days had us finishing at dusk sweaty, dirty and sticky, our nitrile gloves coated in peanut butter, Sharpie marks and mouse droppings. We quickly adapted our schedule to avoid ill effects of heat on our specimens and shifted our days to start before sunrise. Often the first rays of sunlight would turn the fields aglow with pink and golden light as we left the rig, wearing planter bags loaded with peanut butter and oat-baited traps, clipboards and datasheets in tow. Those first steps into the field on cool mornings, stars fading, breathing deep of sagebrush, in search of Great Basin pocket mice are what I remember most.”


For the next issue of Roots, we’re asking alumni to tell us: What are your favorite memories of Anderson Hall? The building was completed in 1925 and has undergone several renovations—including some roof work right now—but it remains largely unchanged, from the exterior to the Forest Club Room. We’ll feature one or more response in the next issue of Roots, and also right here on the “Offshoots” blog. Please email submissions—of no more than 250 words—to sefsalum@uw.edu, and we’ll follow up to ask for a photo if your letter is accepted and published.

Photo © Lindsay Malone.

Special Lecture: Niall McCann

Coming up on Tuesday, March 10, Xi Sigma Pi, the forestry honor society at SEFS, is excited to welcome Niall McCann to campus for a special lecture! McCann is a conservationist and adventurer who hosts the television show Biggest and Baddest. He grew up in England and studied zoology at the University of Bristol, and he is currently completing his doctoral work in zoology on Baird’s tapir at Cardiff University.

Niall McCannHis lecture, “Life on the Conservation Front Line,” will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in Kane Hall 130. It’s free and open to the public, and no advance registration is required, so come join us after work!

About the Talk
In “Life on the Conservation Front Line,” McCann describes his adventures working in endangered species research in remote and challenging environments across the world, and how he has been able to bridge the gap between science and policy and have a direct impact on international conservation. With stories about capturing man-eating crocodiles in Uganda, and 18-foot-long anacondas in Guyana, to working with gun-wielding cowboys in wild-west Honduras, and exploring never-before-seen parts of the Amazon, “Life on the Conservation Front Line” is a rip-roaring tale of adventure; but it is also an homage to the importance of conservation, and a testament to how much a young scientist can achieve in terms of influencing government policy on the sustainability of our planet.

Photos © Niall McCann.

Niall McCann

Graduate Student Symposium: March 6!

The 12th annual Graduate Student Symposium (GSS) is set for Friday, March 6, and as always the schedule is packed with great presentations and a panel discussion!

Graduate Student SymposiumOrganized by and for SEFS graduate students, the day-long symposium—held from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Forest Club Room—highlights the research of our graduate students through presentations and a poster session. This year’s theme is “Clear as Mud: Interpreting a Changing Environment,” and presenters will grapple with complex challenges that cross scales, cross boundaries and cross ecosystems—and that cross into the political sphere, too. How do we, as scientists, make sense of it all?

In addition to several poster and presentation sessions, there will be a panel discussion featuring Dr. Dan Donato from the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Dr. Karen Bennett from the U.S. Forest Service, and John Squires from the Pinchot Partners collaborative. And as is tradition, the symposium will be immediately followed by a Dead Elk party, which is perfect for unwinding and rehashing the day’s presentations and posters over food and drinks!

The GSS is an excellent opportunity for students to present to their colleagues and professors, gain valuable experience and feedback, network with professional contacts and alumni, and also learn more about the work other students are doing at SEFS. You can present a preliminary proposal, your results from a completed project, or anything in-between. Presentations should last no more than 10 minutes, with 2-3 minutes for Q&A afterward. Undergraduate capstone students are encouraged to present a poster, too!

If you’d like to take part, abstracts must be submitted online by 5 p.m. on Friday, February 20, so get moving!

Check out the full day’s schedule, and email Caitlin Littlefield if you have any questions.

Guest Lecture: Michael Nelson

Coming up on Tuesday, February 17, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Anderson 22, you are invited to join a guest lecture with Professor Michael P. Nelson: “The Science and Philosophy of Isle Royale Wolves and Moose: Toward the Inevitable Fusion.”

Isle Royale MooseIsle Royale is a remote wilderness island in Lake Superior, North America, and home to the longest continuous study of a predator-prey system in the world. Currently in the 56th year of the project, ecologists are learning how wolves and moose interact in this single-predator, single-prey system. But this isn’t just about long-term ecological science. The Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project team also includes geneticists, social scientists, filmmakers and one bewildered philosopher, Michael Paul Nelson. The project has had important implications for and direct impact on our policies about wolves, and offers an example of efforts to understand something about the human relationship with nature that lies at the edges, or requiring fusions, of our academic disciplines.

About the Speaker
A professor of environmental ethics and philosophy, Michael Paul Nelson holds the Ruth H. Spaniol Chair of Renewable Resources and serves as the lead principal investigator for the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest Long-Term Ecological Research Program at Oregon State University. He also serves as a senior fellow with the Spring Creek Project for Nature, Ideas, and the Written Word; the philosopher in residence for the Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project; and the co-director of the Conservation Ethics Group.  His most recent book, with Kathleen Dean Moore, is entitled Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril. In his work he strives to combine the rigor of philosophical and ethical analysis with empirical insights gained from ecological and social science to begin to understand the answer to a single, simple question: What is an appropriate human relationship with the non-human world?

Photos © Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project.

Isle Royale Wolves

Environmental Justice in Guatemala: The Chico Mendes Reforestation Project

Next Tuesday, February 10, the College of the Environment is co-sponsoring a guest talk featuring Jorge Armando López Pocol, a Guatemalan community activist and founder of the Chico Mendes Reforestation Project.

Pocol’s talk will explore the environmental crisis in Central America created by civil war, international free trade agreements, and continued social repression. His presentation is part of a speaking tour that will serve to garner financial support for the project through donations and honorariums, and outreach to potential Spanish language school students and volunteers.

The talk is open to the public and begins at 4:30 p.m. in Thomson Hall, Room 101. To learn more about the event, email lacs@uw.edu or call 206.616.0998.

Chico Mendes Project

Chico Mendes Project

Two SEFS Researchers Awarded Wilburforce Fellowships

This January, Wilburforce Foundation and COMPASS announced the first group of 20 scientists awarded the newly established Wilburforce Fellowship in Conservation Science, and two SEFS researchers—Professor Jon Bakker and postdoc Lauren Urgenson—were among the honorees!

Jon Bakker and Lauren UrgensonThe year-long fellowship program provides skills development and sustained mentorship in science communication and leadership, and each Wilburforce Fellow will set a goal for individual or collective engagement on a specific conservation issue. Professor Bakker, for instance, plans to explore how to better link land managers with scientific research. He’s thinking particularly about how to share scientific findings with land managers, and how to encourage them to experimentally evaluate their actions and adapt their activities as appropriate. His research could also include other angles, such as how to enable land managers to communicate their research questions to the scientists who might be able to address them.

The 20 fellows will begin their initial training this April and then work throughout the year with a range of trainers, including a team from COMPASS that specializes in science communication, as well as a number of science and environmental journalists.

Congratulations, Jon and Lauren, and good luck!