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Managing water resources is increasingly complex and dynamic. Sustaining freshwater ecosystem services in the face of increasing challenges and emerging threats is a supreme leadership challenge. Leadership development program designers should look to social science theories and methods to prepare leaders to catalyze the change necessary to meet future challenges. This paper provides evidence that a new generation of water leaders is needed; and correspondingly, there is a need for new leadership development programs. The Nebraska Water Leaders Academy and its evaluation is presented as a case study of a successful program training leaders in social science-based skills in order to produce catalysts of change. The Academy is theoretically grounded in transformational leadership, champions of innovation, civic capacity, and entrepreneurial leadership. The Academy employs a process-based curriculum with developmental experiences that includes key components of assessment, challenge, and support. Formative assessment provides constructive feedback from participants and guides the development of future sessions and curriculum. Summative assessment is used to gauge participants’ leadership knowledge, skills, and behaviors, and evaluate the instructional methods used in the Academy. Results of pre- and post-Academy assessments of participants from both the participants’ and raters’ perspectives indicate statistically significant increases in transformational leadership behaviors, champion of innovation behaviors, civic capacity, entrepreneurial leadership behavior, awareness of Nebraska water issues, and engagement with Nebraska water issues.
This paper describes a research project that collected information about the leadership characteristics of successful watershed coordinators in Ohio. We interviewed a total of twenty watershed coordinators who had successfully completed nonpoint source (NPS) management projects and asked them to discuss their perceptions of what made them and others like them successful. We organized the attributes identified into three themes (social, technical and administrative). Of these, social attributes like strong communication skills were considered to be the most critical for getting NPS projects completed, though technical and administrative attributes were also important. We discuss how these findings might be applied in evaluating and training watershed coordinators, and consider possible avenues for further research.
The purpose of this study was to explore and explain eco-leadership in practice, specifically among community groups in Virginia’s New River Valley. This paper describes relationships between community groups’ leadership style and other factors while also highlighting an intricate mixed method design that ultimately led to a deep, rich understanding of these relationships. There were five research objectives: (1) Characterize the community groups’ leadership culture; (2) Assess each group’s cohesiveness; (3) Assess the groups’ community project involvement; (4) Determine if relationships exist between the variables; and (5) Highlight the role of mixed methods in the emergence of findings. The study has implications for carrying forward the concept of eco-leadership in research and practice.
Sustainable management is a complex process that involves balancing the competing interests of the human, plant, and animal communities that depend on watershed resources. It involves developing and implementing plans, programs, and projects that sustain and enhance watershed functions while taking into account the natural, social, political, economic, and institutional factors operating within the watershed and other relevant regions. Examples of such factors include crosscutting mandates by different levels of government, conflicting objectives across sectors, and the constraints and uncertainty of the availability and accessibility of the resources within the watershed. One way to address these complexities is with public participation processes designed to share knowledge among disciplinary experts, policy-makers, and local stakeholders and provide outcomes, which inform the creation of sustainable watershed management plans. Serious games (i.e., games played for purposes other than pure entertainment) are an example of such processes. Here, we present a case study of how a serious game, called the multi-hazard tournament, was used to facilitate watershed management by promoting social learning, cross-sectoral dialogue, and stakeholder participation in the planning process.
Freshwater mussel populations in North America have been declining over the past two centuries due to a variety of land-use changes and anthropogenic water quality degradation. The Tippecanoe River, located in northcentral Indiana, was once home to the world’s largest population of clubshell mussels. Currently, the river supports six federally listed species. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) partnered with Purdue University to design and implement an outreach and education campaign to raise awareness about and promote protection of these imperiled species. This article details how researchers used the principles of community-based social marketing to create and evaluate the campaign. Lessons learned and recommendations for future campaigns are provided.
This paper presents the case of a voluntary watershed project that addressed the need for improving water quality by reducing agricultural nutrient loss. The Beargrass Creek Watershed Approach Project in Wabash County, Indiana aimed to demonstrate that it is possible to achieve ambitious water quality goals and maximize the effectiveness of conservation funding through locally-led efforts that bring together multiple stakeholders throughout the process. The project focused on implementing the “right practices” in the “right places” through a goal-oriented, science-based, and locally-adapted approach to voluntary conservation. We examine and evaluate all three phases of the project and discuss successes and lessons learned from the point of view of both agricultural producers and agency staff from the local Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
This paper describes how in-depth interviews and content analysis of water-related policies and plans were used to assess good governance principles (transparency, effectiveness, equity, accountability, and appropriate scale) for Lake Wausau in central Wisconsin. The purpose of the research was to support and inform development of a lake management plan. One of the key findings was that the existing system of water governance lacked transparency. In addition, responsibility for and benefits from potential improved lake conditions were distributed unevenly and inequitably among stakeholders. Local and county plans were vague and lacked strong language (e.g., “should” vs. “must” comply) to indicate which actions were required. Both barriers to and opportunities for creating a more effective system were identified. This paper offers suggestions for improving the governance system, discusses the limits of local watershed planning for overcoming watershed management issues, and provides suggestions for anyone wishing to undertake governance analyses to support water resources management.
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