Research, education, and community collaboration are the tools of our trade. Our work ranges from researching the outcomes of a national law on rural communities, to educating youth in natural resources to encourage stewardship of our ecosystems, to facilitating assessments and bilingual dialogues about healthcare, to testifying in the halls of Congress.
The Sierra Institute uses research methods that bring communities into the process or that bring researchers into the community’s quest for knowledge. Involving communities in research helps improve our understanding of issues and can empower communities to participate in decisions that affect them. The Sierra Institute pursues research that contributes to improving community wellbeing and ecosystem health.
The Sierra Institute uses participatory research to help rural communities and workers investigate and identify ways to address issues they identify as important. Examples of past projects include:
Proyecto Salud: a project focused on improving health and healthcare access among rural, Latino immigrants
Assisting low-income, culturally-diverse mushroom harvesters to monitor gathering and land management activities that affect their harvest
Partnering with Native American communities in their efforts to document, sustain and practice Traditional Ecological Knowledge
The Sierra Institute views education as any process that creates useable knowledge or facilitates an opening of the mind to new ideas, knowledge, and experiences. The Sierra Institute pursues education by creating forums and networking groups of similar focus and linking communities with each other, policy discussions, and resources. Some examples include:
Working with teachers to integrate natural resource management principles across the curriculum
Tours of innovative forest and watershed restoration projects through the Center of Forestry
Establishing dialogues and learning circles among community groups and policy makers regarding natural resource management (including the Lead Partnership Group, the Pacific Community Forestry Center)
Producing outreach information on maintaining healthy forests and watershed at the local level
The Sierra Institute advances community and ecosystem health by facilitating dialogues, public involvement in policy development, and community capacity building. We work to build the capacity and resilience of rural communities to participate in decisions that affect them. Some examples include:
Leading public involvement processes for major science and policy efforts, such as the Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project
Educating policy makers on issues important to rural communities through one-on one meetings, agency briefings, and congressional testimony
Coordinating the Lake Almanor Watershed Group to advise on sustainable management of the Almanor Basin watershed
Facilitating workshops to build trust and capacity for collaboration between Latino community members and health and human service providers