Forests and Farms: The Systems that Sustain Us

Fall 2018
Winter 2019
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

Dylan Fisher square
forest and plant ecology
Steve Scheuerell
ecology, botany, plant pathology

Learn to get your hands dirty in two globally important types of landscapes: forests and farms. We will use a systems thinking approach to explore environmental issues related to both landscapes, such as climate change and carbon sequestration. We will split our focus between an introduction to forests and forest measurements in the Pacific Northwest and an introduction to agricultural systems and ecological agriculture. Management of forests and farms are of central importance in global carbon budgets, and we will explore how both play a role in climate change. We will learn about the many stakeholders throughout society who are involved in forestry and farming issues and how science can inform policy and management decisions. Students will gain an introduction to basic nutrient cycling and soils concepts that are foundational to both ecological forestry and agriculture systems. We will learn the basic tools and techniques needed to account for forest and farm carbon and students will learn how to build basic carbon budgets based on forest and soil measurements.

For the forestry component, students will learn to do basic forest measurements, inventory carbon sequestration in forests, understand ecological succession, and identify common trees. Students will learn how to use basic trigonometry and algebraic approaches to measuring forest dimensions and tree carbon storage. Weekly field labs will give students hands-on experience working with our local forests in Evergreen's forest reserve.

In the agricultural component, students will learn basic agronomic principles, including the structure and function of annual and perennial crop plants; and how plants respond to water, nutrients, light, and heat. Using field trips and case studies, a variety of agricultural systems will be introduced, and students will learn how management practices impact climate change via energy-use efficiency and the carbon sequestration potential of soils and crops. Ecological agroforestry systems will be emphasized to show how perennial crops can be utilized to optimize carbon uptake, efficiently utilize inputs, conserve soil, and maintain food production.

Both sections of the program will be integrated in a weekly lab where students will learn the basics of spreadsheet use to compile forest, soil, and farm data. Using data students collect themselves, we will build and explore carbon budgets in both forests and farms, and then apply data to our understanding of local eco- and agro-systems.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: agriculture, ecology, environmental studies, field studies, forestry, natural history, and sustainability studies.

Online learning:
  • Hybrid Online Learning - This offering delivers < 25% of its instruction online, rather than via face-to-face contact between you and your instructors.

Scheduled for: Day

Located in: Olympia

2018-03-28This program is now fall-winter.