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Mountain Studies Institute Strategic Plan 2021-2023

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<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong><br />

<strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong><br />

ADVANCE SCIENCE<br />

EMPOWER COMMUNITIES<br />

INNOVATE SOLUTIONS


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS<br />

A great deal of internal and external critical thinking was devoted to developing this extension of the<br />

original (2015-2020) plan. We would like to thank our board of directors, the Executive Director, Marcie<br />

Bidwell, and the MSI staff for assisting with this monumental task. Specifically, we would like to thank<br />

G. Sam Foster, Board President 2017-2018, Mark Stiles, and Rob Milofsky, current Board President, for<br />

leading the <strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong>ning Committee.<br />

We would also like to recognize Dr. Robert Blair (1943-2015) who inspired the formation of MSI and<br />

functioned as its creative muse, and whose passing reminds us of the contribution of many leaders in<br />

the San Juan Region who have devoted themselves to land stewardship and conservation.


CONTENTS<br />

HISTORY AND NICHE 1<br />

MISSION AND VISION 2<br />

OUR GOALS 3<br />

OUR CORE VALUES & RELATIONSHIPS 4<br />

ADVANCE MOUNTAIN SCIENCE 5<br />

EMPOWER COMMUNITIES 7<br />

INNOVATE SOLUTIONS 9<br />

CAPACITY GOALS 11<br />

NEXT STEPS 13<br />

APPENDIX 15


1<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

HISTORY AND NICHE<br />

MSI was first conceptualized in the late 1990’s as a “living classroom without walls” in the San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s<br />

through discussions with over 20 collaborators. Conversations brought together members from the Town of<br />

Silverton, San Juan County, Fort Lewis College, San Juan Public Lands Center (USDA Forest Service and Bureau of<br />

Land Management), and many others to develop the concept of a non-advocacy, mountain center of education<br />

and research in Silverton, Colorado. As the effort grew, the group hosted the State of the San Juan’s Conference<br />

at Purgatory Resort, proving the need for leadership and desire for mountain research in the region. MSI was<br />

granted legal status as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 2002. Two federal appropriations through the US<br />

Forest Service were sponsored by Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, which helped establish the <strong>Institute</strong>.<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong> (MSI) has partnered with San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong> communities to foster and enhance<br />

understanding and sustainable use of our valued natural resources since 2002. We have grown to embody<br />

a dynamic initiative to care for the San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s, one of Colorado’s most special places. Through<br />

applied research, education, and stewardship programs, we strive to go beyond scientific inquiry to the<br />

meaningful application of knowledge and information that makes a difference in the quality of life for mountain<br />

communities and for the environment in southwest Colorado. MSI was created to expand knowledge about<br />

mountain systems, their connections, and their environmental challenges; to ensure that such knowledge is<br />

readily available to decision-makers and leaders in mountain communities; and to contribute to the well-being of<br />

Silverton, Durango, Pagosa Springs, and Telluride as well as the San Juan mountain region in general by helping<br />

to improve the overall health of the mountain ecosystems, and specifically diversify Silverton’s economy.<br />

Our focus on mountain systems rather than the isolated components has made us unique since the beginning.<br />

We have always seen people as important elements within mountain systems and have actively pursued applied<br />

research that includes human actions in disturbed, modified, and non-pristine environments, such as our lands<br />

that have been mined, grazed or otherwise managed. The issues of our time, such as climate change and air<br />

quality, remind us that the world is intricately connected, and all actions have cascading effects that reach across<br />

time and space. While other organizations may focus on a particular aspect of a mountain environment such as<br />

water quality, we have pursued the creative tension at the intersections of disciplines, such as how air quality<br />

impacts high alpine lakes’ water quality through deposition of mercury and nutrients, as an example of a systems<br />

approach.<br />

In the last nineteen years, we have grown significantly, the scope of our work and expertise has expanded, and<br />

our partners have multiplied. Simultaneously, so have the types of challenges and opportunities facing our<br />

mountain communities.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 2<br />

OUR MISSION<br />

To empower communities, managers, and<br />

scientists to innovate solutions through advancing<br />

mountain research, promoting education, and<br />

improving best practices.<br />

OUR VISION<br />

We cultivate collaborations that enable resilient<br />

mountain communities to articulate issues, develop<br />

partnerships, and ignite initiatives that sustain the<br />

social, cultural, natural, and economic resources of the<br />

San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s and mountain systems worldwide.


3<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

OUR GOALS<br />

Advance<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> Science<br />

Empower<br />

Communities<br />

Innovate<br />

Solutions<br />

• Identify scientific<br />

information needs and<br />

knowledge gaps relevant to<br />

the resilience of people and<br />

mountain ecosystems.<br />

• Recruit and include diverse<br />

voices, perspectives, and<br />

under-represented people<br />

in our work, on our staff,<br />

and in our collaboratives.<br />

• Collaborate with community<br />

members and stakeholders<br />

to design and conduct<br />

research relevant to<br />

emerging issues.<br />

• Strengthen and increase<br />

our monitoring capacity<br />

and infrastructure to<br />

better understand shifting<br />

systems, including rapid<br />

and long-term changes and<br />

immediate, chronic, and<br />

episodic events.<br />

• Raise awareness,<br />

understanding, and a<br />

culture of stewardship<br />

through community<br />

engagement, collaboration,<br />

stewardship actions, and<br />

accomplishments.<br />

• Promote learning about<br />

mountain systems and<br />

scientific literacy in K-12 and<br />

higher education.<br />

• Develop future leaders<br />

in our communities with<br />

science skills, understanding<br />

and appreciation for<br />

natural resources, and<br />

tools through hands-on<br />

training and professional<br />

development.<br />

• Innovate solutions to<br />

address challenges relevant<br />

to mountain communities,<br />

now and in the future.<br />

• Facilitate new methods<br />

of collaboration and<br />

science-based initiatives to<br />

promote and sustain social,<br />

ecological, and economic<br />

resilience.<br />

• Promote innovative<br />

solutions at multiple scales,<br />

connecting place-based<br />

innovations to higher levels<br />

of decision-making and<br />

discussion to be inclusive,<br />

diverse, and representative.<br />

• Translate science into<br />

usable formats and useful<br />

knowledge for the public<br />

and decision makers.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 4<br />

OUR CORE VALUES & RELATIONSHIPS<br />

A set of interconnected values and principles guide our work. These values are demonstrated through a variety<br />

of research and educational approaches. MSI focuses on both the ecological concerns and community needs of<br />

the San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s region during a time of significant social, economic and environmental transition.<br />

1) Is Place-Based in the San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s<br />

MSI is an active part of the social, physical, and ecological landscape of the San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s region. We<br />

are consistently informed and driven by our sense of place. We seek to learn alongside our communities<br />

and serve as a connector to help disseminate information and knowledge to our partners and stakeholders<br />

here in the San Juans—and beyond to other communities around the world.<br />

2) Enhances Interactions between Natural Resources and Communities<br />

MSI builds capacity by emphasizing the interaction among natural resources, social and economic change,<br />

and needs for community understanding and/or adaptation.<br />

3) Seeks Useful and Meaningful Outcomes<br />

MSI stresses applied science and meaningful research that results in useful outcomes, pursuing<br />

opportunities that link science, community understanding, and knowledge.<br />

4) Leads by Example<br />

MSI leads by example, engaging in hands-on forest, watershed and river restoration work on the ground<br />

when it can be structured as a participatory action research, pilot testing, and/or education activities.<br />

5) Cultivates Collaborative Partnerships<br />

MSI works through collaborative partnerships in all phases of its research and education processes. We<br />

seek to enhance the strengths of our partners by building productive relationships and connections.<br />

6) Encourages Active Community Involvement<br />

MSI is committed to empowering communities through consistent inclusion and active involvement of<br />

community leaders in science-based initiatives, citizen science, and stewardship.<br />

7) Sponsors Community Dialog in Public Forums<br />

MSI fosters collaborative dialogue to enable people with the skills, information and opportunity to<br />

participate in and inform community decision making. We use innovative applications to connect people to<br />

address ecological and community concerns in the San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s.<br />

8) Seeks Resilient, Adaptive Solutions<br />

MSI tests new solutions to vexing problems, emphasizing resilient, adaptive solutions.


There is no power greater for change than a community


discovering what it cares about. Margaret Wheatley


7<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

ADVANCE MOUNTAIN SCIENCE<br />

ISSUE STATEMENT:<br />

The rapid environmental and societal changes that are taking place locally<br />

and globally pose considerable challenges to the fabric of natural and social<br />

systems. Coping with the challenges will require new discoveries, improved<br />

knowledge, robust and relevant information, and the ability to use these<br />

advances appropriately. While scientific advances and discoveries are<br />

constantly being made, there is often a significant disconnect between the<br />

scientists generating the information and the policy makers and managers<br />

who are trying to use that information.<br />

Priorities for Action<br />

• <strong>Mountain</strong> conditions are constantly changing. Research—and the policy and<br />

programming it should inform—also needs to be ongoing and adaptive.<br />

• We need to learn—and then apply that learning—at the same pace and with<br />

agility, unafraid of changing course or shifting our focus.<br />

• MSI will use a process to prioritize which research questions and initiatives we are<br />

addressing to ensure we are asking the right questions.<br />

• Collaboration across communities, expertise, and perspectives is key to breaking<br />

down barriers and realizing relevancy. We will intentionally include diverse voices,<br />

perspectives, and experiences in the process of identifying, conducting, and<br />

applying mountain science.<br />

• To overcome the disconnect between the scientists<br />

generating the information and the decision<br />

makers who need to use this information, we<br />

seek new pathways for mountain research<br />

to inform decision-making on policies,<br />

regulatory frameworks, and programming.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 8<br />

IF WE:<br />

Identify scientific information needs and knowledge gaps relevant to the<br />

resilience of people and mountain ecosystems;<br />

Recruit and include diverse voices, perspectives, and under-represented people<br />

in our work, on our staff, and in our collaboratives;<br />

Collaborate with community members and stakeholders to design and conduct<br />

research relevant to emerging issues;<br />

Strengthen and increase our monitoring capacity and infrastructure to better<br />

understand shifting systems, including rapid and long-term changes and<br />

immediate, chronic, and episodic events; and<br />

Translate science into usable formats and useful knowledge for the public and<br />

decision makers,<br />

THEN:<br />

Information gaps are filled and new knowledge improves strategies and actions<br />

that supports mountain ecosystem resilience;<br />

Decision makers are better informed with improved knowledge and have<br />

relevant data to plan, manage, and set policies for protecting ecosystems; and<br />

Communities and stakeholders will value the importance of mountain<br />

ecosystems to the survival of nature and people,<br />

AND THEREFORE:<br />

The San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong> ecosystems will become resilient,<br />

and the continued and healthy existence of this vital resource will be<br />

assured for future generations.


9<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

EMPOWER COMMUNITIES<br />

ISSUE STATEMENT:<br />

Everyday, the world is becoming more complex and interconnected. We are ever more<br />

dependent on the earth’s limited resources, a fragile climate, and fellow humankind.<br />

As a society, we are more global, technological, and mobile with each generation.<br />

Recent events in 2020 have highlighted the need to address environmental injustice<br />

and inequity in our society and community. Success in the 21st Century—our human<br />

and natural welfare—will depend on our awareness, understanding, collaboration,<br />

and capacity for action. We have a moral imperative to create a sustainable,<br />

equitable, and resilient community and environment that benefits all people.<br />

Achieving environmental integrity, social equity, environmental justice, and economic<br />

prosperity is not a lofty ideal, but a necessity for our planet and people to survive.<br />

Priorities for Action<br />

• Access to resources, information, education, participation, and influence is not equal. As<br />

MSI’s mission is to empower all within our communities, we work to raise awareness and<br />

end systemic racism and environmental injustice that affects Black, Indigenous, and People<br />

of Color. We renew our dedication to elevate all voices, identify and address barriers to<br />

participation, and promote equity and inclusion in our initiatives.<br />

• Knowledge alone does not lead to action. MSI embraces a holistic approach for transformative<br />

action through increasing awareness, connecting people with our unique mountain resources,<br />

building knowledge and skills, and increasing capacity to participate and act.<br />

• Complex problems require collaboration<br />

and connected action. Beyond science, MSI’s<br />

programs need to increase literacy in systems<br />

thinking, problem solving, and 21st century<br />

skills.<br />

• Critical scientific information is being<br />

lost in politicized debate, distrust or<br />

misunderstanding of science and the scientific<br />

process. MSI is uniquely poised to work<br />

toward rebuilding trust and understanding of<br />

the role of science and collaboration through<br />

our community-based initiatives.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 10<br />

IF WE:<br />

Raise awareness, understanding, and a culture of stewardship through<br />

community engagement, collaboration, stewardship actions, and<br />

accomplishments;<br />

Promote learning about mountain systems and scientific literacy in K-12 and<br />

higher education; and<br />

Develop future leaders in all our communities with science skills, understanding<br />

and appreciation for natural resources, and tools through hands-on training and<br />

professional development,<br />

THEN:<br />

People build connections, are better informed, and are equipped to support<br />

scientific endeavors through investing, funding, collaborating, and stewardship<br />

activity;<br />

More youth envision a path as future leaders in science, have opportunities to<br />

explore and practice leadership; and<br />

More people trust science, make informed decisions, and take action to protect<br />

and/or restore our environment,<br />

AND THEREFORE:<br />

A science-literate public will appreciate the value of our unique mountain<br />

systems, understand scientific principles and emerging issues, engage in<br />

stewardship and civic action, apply the knowledge gained to conserve and<br />

protect our natural resources, and inspire the behavior and beliefs of those<br />

around them.


11<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

INNOVATE SOLUTIONS<br />

ISSUE STATEMENT:<br />

The challenges of our time—environmental degradation, climate change, drought, social<br />

disruption—call us to find new solutions, methods of collaboration, and creativity to<br />

improve lives and the environment. To effect change requires asking questions, challenging<br />

the norms and practices of people and institutions, and thinking differently about our work,<br />

about the way we do our work, and about who is doing the work. It also requires creating a<br />

culture and support network that believes change will result in a better outcome.<br />

Priorities for Action<br />

• Invest in our capacity to facilitate the full cycle of understanding, thereby evolving and solving<br />

complex problems—investigate, define, prototype, test, adapt, and apply—to increase the pace<br />

and scale of developing and adopting solutions that meet community needs.<br />

• Strengthen our ability to facilitate and lead initiatives in design thinking that generates solutions<br />

that are local and generated in partnership with end-users and intended benefactors.<br />

• Enhance support for networks and collaborations which will yield benefits from continuous<br />

learning and emergent organizational practices to accelerate and institutionalize rapid learning.<br />

• Support the design process and new ideas at the peer and institutional levels. MSI models of<br />

collaboration will build networks, support leaders, and reduce risk in innovation.<br />

• Stress the urgency of local context in our<br />

work. There is often a lack of urgency among<br />

governmental and donor decision-makers to<br />

understand local problems and conditions. Instead,<br />

decisions are based on generalized viewpoints<br />

instead of contextualized, local data that carries<br />

significant downstream effects on broader<br />

ecosystems.<br />

• Guide innovation to be local, relevant, and beneficial<br />

for the users of the solutions.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 12<br />

IF WE:<br />

Innovate solutions to address challenges relevant to mountain communities,<br />

now and in the future;<br />

Facilitate new methods of collaboration and science-based initiatives to<br />

promote and sustain social, ecological, and economic resilience; and<br />

Promote innovative solutions at multiple scales, connecting place-based<br />

innovations to higher levels of decision-making and discussion to be<br />

inclusive, diverse, and representative,<br />

THEN:<br />

A network of practitioners with the knowledge, skills, experience, and<br />

confidence to advance the state of practice and policies is active;<br />

Market and donor demand for applied mountain science is increased and<br />

sustained; and<br />

More people and institutions contribute to, support, and activate science,<br />

AND THEREFORE:<br />

The resilience of the mountain ecosystem is strengthened through restorative<br />

and regenerative solutions that are derived from and supported by a<br />

myriad of community voices and institutions. This includes a local economic<br />

ecosystem that supports mountain science and its applications.


13<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

CAPACITY GOALS<br />

Our strategic goals require significant resources and capacity to accomplish. As part of the strategic<br />

planning process, we reviewed our internal capacity and resources. In response, we established a set of<br />

capacity goals to ensure that we have the people, resources, and policies necessary to attain our vision.<br />

1) SUPPORT OUR PEOPLE, ENHANCE OUR CULTURE<br />

Our talented staff and board are the strongest assets of the organization. Our goal is to<br />

maintain a high level of capacity by providing the necessary development and support for<br />

staff and board, as well as ensure our organizational culture fosters teamwork, collaboration,<br />

and positive outlook and growth. Staff professional development will receive greater<br />

attention. We will ensure our work environment is conducive to productive and satisfying<br />

work and reflects the technology needs of the day.<br />

3) DEVELOP A CULTURE OF CONTINUOUS AND ADAPTIVE LEARNING<br />

It is imperative that MSI staff are at the forefront of scientific advancements in mountain<br />

science and are versed, trained, and competent in leading-edge technologies. We must remain<br />

aware of how we impact, or are impacted by, our partners, the political and economic climate,<br />

and current issues that can influence our collective success. The rapidly changing world of<br />

information technology also presents challenges and opportunities. We will ensure resources<br />

are made available and effectively used and that MSI thoughtfully evaluates its work to<br />

understand our effectiveness, adapt as needed, and constantly improve our approaches.<br />

5) EMBRACE STORYTELLING TO SHARE “SCIENCE PEOPLE CAN USE”<br />

MSI strives to fill information needs and knowledge gaps that enhances knowledge and<br />

informs better decisions to sustain our communities and mountain systems. Yet, our<br />

audience—as varied as it gets—has different interests and information needs, as well<br />

as preferred modes of engagement. We will develop and implement a communication<br />

strategy that leverages our work into engaging and relatable stories (Science People Can<br />

Use), enhances our social media presence, and connects to the values and interests of our<br />

communities, policy and decision-makers, and funders.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 14<br />

2) BE A HIGH-LEVEL NONPROFIT INSTITUTION AND TRUSTED PARTNER<br />

We seek to serve a wide geography of the San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s region which spans many<br />

thousands of square miles, is separated by mountain passes, and includes diverse cultures<br />

and values. We receive funding from a variety of sources, and develop and participate in<br />

numerous collaborative partnerships. Our donors, partners, board, and staff deserve nothing<br />

less than absolute transparency, accountability, and fiduciary responsibility, and our growth<br />

depends on it. Therefore, MSI will deliver those attributes.<br />

4) BUILD FINANCIAL RESOURCES THAT UNDERGIRD SHORT AND<br />

LONG-TERM STABILITY<br />

We need to ensure that our people and programs have the resources they need to succeed.<br />

To achieve long-term stability, we require a diverse funding portfolio, productive relations<br />

with funders, and strong partnerships. We will strengthen our rainy-day reserve fund and<br />

carve out base-operational funds to support targeted innovative research activities. This<br />

will enhance staff opportunities to contribute directly to the body of mountain science<br />

research and/or its application. We will embark on a comprehensive fundraising strategy that<br />

advances MSI into new markets and revamps its donor giving platform.


15<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

NEXT STEPS<br />

MSI’s <strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> sets forth the organization’s vision, three strategic goals, and<br />

internal organizational capacity goals. Each strategic goal is supported by a defining issue<br />

statement, priorities for action, a theory of change, and concrete objectives and initiatives<br />

designed to meet the goal. A set of capacity goals completes the <strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong>, communicating<br />

the strengths MSI will build on and the gaps it will address to realize the plan. MSI’s <strong>Strategic</strong><br />

<strong>Plan</strong> is co-created by MSI’s Board of Directors and all staff every three years. It is approved by the<br />

Board of Directors and enacted by MSI’s senior<br />

leadership through annual workplans, with highlevel<br />

results reported quarterly to the Board.<br />

Staff’s individual contributions to goal attainment<br />

will be inscribed in annual workplans and<br />

measured in annual performance reviews.<br />

Our goal is to attain our vision by working<br />

collectively toward our strategic and capacity<br />

goals to ensure MSI contributes effectively<br />

to advancing mountain science that provides<br />

solutions for strengthening the resilience of the<br />

San Juan <strong>Mountain</strong>s, as well as demonstrates<br />

best practices and models that can be replicated<br />

further afield. MSI’s work is indeed place-based<br />

and local—but it carries global impact on the<br />

world’s resources.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 16<br />

<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong>, Work <strong>Plan</strong>ning, and Evaluation Process<br />

MSI Executive Team<br />

measures progress and<br />

reports to staff and the<br />

Board; adapts and adjusts<br />

plan goals and objectives<br />

as needed<br />

Board and staff<br />

co-develop <strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong><br />

in participatory process<br />

Quarterly &<br />

Annual<br />

Reporting<br />

3-Year<br />

<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong><br />

Adopted<br />

MSI supervisors work<br />

with direct reports on<br />

staff workplans aligned<br />

to annual organizational<br />

workplan; hold regular<br />

check-ins on progress<br />

and issues<br />

Annual Staff<br />

Workplans<br />

Implemented<br />

Annual<br />

Organizational<br />

Workplan<br />

Enacted<br />

MSI Leadership Team<br />

develops annual plan<br />

aligned to <strong>Strategic</strong><br />

<strong>Plan</strong> with clear roles,<br />

responsibilities, and<br />

accountability


17<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

APPENDIX<br />

GOAL 1: ADVANCE MOUNTAIN SCIENCE<br />

Objectives<br />

Objective 1: Identify scientific<br />

information needs and<br />

knowledge gaps relevant to<br />

the resilience of people and<br />

mountain ecosystems<br />

Objective 2: Recruit and include<br />

diverse voices, perspectives, and<br />

under-represented people in our<br />

work, on our staff, and in our<br />

collaboratives<br />

Objective 3: Collaborate with<br />

community members and<br />

stakeholders to design and<br />

conduct research relevant to<br />

emerging issues<br />

Objective 4: Strengthen and<br />

increase our monitoring capacity<br />

and infrastructure to better<br />

understand shifting systems,<br />

including rapid and long-term<br />

changes and immediate, chronic,<br />

and episodic events<br />

Initiatives<br />

• Establish a system to prioritize research initiatives and<br />

investments; ensure the entire mountain system, from high<br />

alpine elevation to downstream gradients, is addressed.<br />

• Grow MSI’s ability to lead research and monitoring efforts, as<br />

well as data management, through strengthening expertise, both<br />

internally and externally, to support research initiatives.<br />

• Re-establish the San Juan Collaboratory to advance and formalize<br />

research partnerships, especially with local and regional-based<br />

educational institutions.<br />

• Increase efforts to recruit and hire diverse staff, board members,<br />

interns, and researchers.<br />

• Analyze and improve efforts for our collaborations to be more<br />

inclusive and representative of the communities in which we<br />

work.<br />

• Provide appropriate inclusiveness training to all staff and make it<br />

available to collaborators.<br />

• Demonstrate thought leadership such as through development<br />

of science communications, papers, and journal articles that<br />

represent our place and build integrated perspectives in our<br />

ecologies and communities.<br />

• Connect science to decision-makers and the public through<br />

workshops, forums, media, and MSI communication initiatives.<br />

• Develop strategy with partners to harness diverse perspectives<br />

and enhance collaborative research design and implementation.<br />

• Assess monitoring infrastructure needs to support emerging and<br />

prioritized research initiatives.<br />

• Prepare and train for planned and unplanned monitoring events<br />

in order to respond during disturbance and rapid changes.<br />

• Obtain funding, tools, and methods for relevant monitoring that<br />

are cost effective, robust, and sustainable, such as automation,<br />

citizen science, and remote sensing.<br />

Objective 5: Translate science<br />

into usable formats and useful<br />

knowledge for the public and<br />

decision makers<br />

• Develop communication and marketing tools to better<br />

disseminate scientific activity and findings.<br />

• Offer science-based forums presenting best available science<br />

and lead debate on the research questions.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 18<br />

GOAL 2: EMPOWER COMMUNITIES<br />

Objectives<br />

Objective 1: Raise awareness,<br />

understanding, and a culture of<br />

stewardship through community<br />

engagement, collaboration,<br />

stewardship actions, and<br />

accomplishments.<br />

Objective 2: Promote learning<br />

about mountain systems and<br />

scientific literacy in K-12 and<br />

higher education.<br />

Objective 3: Develop<br />

future leaders in all our<br />

communities with science skills,<br />

understanding and appreciation<br />

for natural resources, and tools<br />

through hands-on training and<br />

professional development.<br />

Initiatives<br />

• Develop curriculum for the public and students combining<br />

science, collaboration, and systems thinking, and take it to scale.<br />

• Provide opportunities to build environmental and scientific<br />

literacy through developing digital and dispersed offerings,<br />

including virtual and online options, citizen science, and<br />

trainings, including summer work-learn programs.<br />

• Develop partnerships with local businesses and organizations<br />

to promote mountain science, stewardship and conservation<br />

through co-creation and sponsorship.<br />

• Build trust and reduce polarization of information through<br />

programs that is are relevant to people’s interests and locales.<br />

• Advance our facilitative skills in supporting dialogue, diverse<br />

perspectives, and representation.<br />

• Strengthen existing and develop new partnerships with schools<br />

and other environmental organizations with participatory action<br />

goals in order to reach broader audiences, as well as enhance<br />

our work and that of our partners.<br />

• Communicate the outcomes- transformative experiences, media,<br />

videos, and testimonials; identify key contacts and partners<br />

within communities and partner organizations who will have a<br />

multiplier effect on our activities and messaging by encouraging<br />

others in their circle to act and spread the word.<br />

• Identify and engage underrepresented people and voices<br />

in science learning, career development, and community<br />

conversation opportunities.<br />

• Partner with social science experts to improve the outcomes and<br />

beneficial impacts of community discussions and participatory<br />

science for all.<br />

• Work with local (Four Corner states) higher education institutions<br />

to facilitate professional development in the natural science and<br />

natural resource management fields.<br />

• Share success stories from champions and interns on how MSI<br />

programs impacted their professional development.


19<br />

<strong>Mountain</strong> <strong>Studies</strong> <strong>Institute</strong><br />

GOAL 3: INNOVATE SOLUTIONS<br />

Objectives<br />

Objective 1: Innovate solutions<br />

to address challenges relevant to<br />

mountain communities, now and<br />

in the future.<br />

Objective 2: Facilitate new<br />

methods of collaboration and<br />

science-based initiatives to<br />

promote and sustain social,<br />

ecological, and economic<br />

resilience.<br />

Objective 3: Promote innovative<br />

solutions at multiple scales,<br />

connecting place-based<br />

innovations to higher levels of<br />

decision-making and discussion<br />

to be inclusive, diverse, and<br />

representative.<br />

Initiatives<br />

• Deploy cutting edge design thinking/methods to elicit innovative<br />

solutions, including using tried and true approaches in new<br />

contexts or with new partnerships.<br />

• Test and prototype new ideas and technologies through pilot<br />

projects, partnerships, incubators, adaptive management, and<br />

resource generation.<br />

• Continuously monitor and evaluate programs to improve<br />

program delivery for transformative experiences and innovative<br />

best practices.<br />

• Build diverse and inclusive networks of leaders and scientists<br />

who initiate and promote innovative approaches to sciencebased<br />

problem-solving through MSI’s Science & Innovation<br />

Center.<br />

• Position MSI in science-based coalitions and formal networks as<br />

the science advisor, fluent in design techniques.<br />

• Explore creative market approaches to conservation finance<br />

and partnerships with corporate/business partners whose<br />

actions and values align with and support MSI’s mission and<br />

organizational goals.<br />

• Document the impact of learning and adaptation, then<br />

disseminate the results and impacts widely; identify avenues for<br />

putting results in the hands of decision-makers at all levels.<br />

• Elevate new or underserved voices in MSI work through inclusive<br />

recruiting practices for partners, staff, and internships in order to<br />

generate new perspectives and experiences.<br />

• Develop long-term relationships with interns, volunteers, and<br />

young professionals for mutual learning and generation of new<br />

ideas which will advance through their careers.


<strong>Strategic</strong> <strong>Plan</strong> <strong>2021</strong>-<strong>2023</strong> 20<br />

Students get hands-on experience in monitoring their local watershed as part of MSI’s Silverton Ecology Camp.


970-387-5161<br />

info@mountainstudies.org<br />

P.O. Box 426 Silverton, CO 81433<br />

679 E 2nd Ave #8 Durango, CO 81301

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