Research & Teaching Interests:
environmental science, ecology, freshwater ecosystems, headwaters, wetlands, watershed systems, terrestrial-aquatic linkages, community-based watershed conservation, environmental education
- M.S. Ecology, University of Georgia, 2003
- Graduate Certificate in Conservation Ecology & Sustainable Development, University of Georgia, 2003
- B.S. Environmental Science & Ecology, North Carolina State University, 1998
- B.S. Multidisciplinary Studies: Art & Values in a Technological Society, North Carolina State University, 1998
SD 2610 Science for Sustainability, SD 3610 Issues in Environmental Sustainability, SD 3534 Watershed Protection, SD 3675 Outreach Skills for Sustainability
Laura joined the SD faculty in 2010 after working for seven years on issues of environment and sustainability in the non-profit sector. Most of this work was outreach and communications focused on the ecology and values of our wetlands, lakes, rivers and streams; threats to these waterbodies; and actions that can be taken on the individual, community, and societal levels to protect and restore watersheds. Laura has also been involved in the non-profit sector as a volunteer; she has served on seven non-profit boards, most of which are community-based watershed organizations.
As Outreach Programs Director for Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Laura developed and coordinated programs for diverse audiences, from scientists and professionals, to developers and builders, to school teachers and children. This work, which has been continued by her colleagues, was honored with the 2012 Wetland Conservation Award by the International Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for the organization's outstanding achievements in the area of wetland education. Wisconsin Wetlands Association is the first ever recipient of this award from the United States, joining previous laureates from Thailand, Australia, Japan, Kenya, China, Peru, and Canada.
Laura recently completed her NC Environmental Education Certification, and is a member of the North American Association of Environmental Educators (NAAEE). In her spare time, Laura enjoys soaking up this beautiful Appalachian setting with her husband and two children, and belting out bluesy tunes.
Current and Recent Projects
Climate Stories Collaborative: Laura founded and is co-facilitating this initiative, which is designed to grow the capacity of faculty and students across the university to use a variety of creative media to tell the stories of those who are already affected by, and/or taking action to address, climate change.
Emblems of the Anthropocene: Inspired by Elizabeth Kolbert's 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, Laura and her students are writing about the biodiversity crisis. Each of their narratives, like Kolbert's chapters, focuses on the story of an emblematic species--one that can help us understand the broader biodiversity crisis and our connections with it.
Watauga High School Rain Garden: Laura coordinated a community partnership to install and maintain a rain garden on the Watauga High School campus. Partners include representatives of Appalachian State University, Watauga High School, Watauga River Partners, NC Cooperative Extension, Watauga Soil & Water Conservation District and Mountain Alliance. See project website here.
Roots of Resilience Film Festival: Cultivating Sustainable Community in the High Country: In the spring of 2017, Laura's Outreach Skills for Sustainability class created mini-documentary films about local people and organizations that are contributing to different aspects of cultivating sustainable community in our region. The class planned and hosted the Roots of Resilience Film Festival in which they screened these films (click link to view the films).
Sustainability & Environmental Education Club: As Faculty Advisor for the Sustainability and Environmental Education Club (SEEC), Laura cultivates student leaders, and helps coordinate activities, including programs for community partners (e.g., Kiwanis Kids, Children’s Playhouse, Valle Crucis Extended Learning Center) and booths at large community events (e.g., BuildFest, ASU STEM Expo, RiverFest, ASU Trick or Treat for Tots).
Outreach & Engagement Subcommittee, Sustainability Council: Laura serves as Chair of the Outreach Subcommittee for ASU’s Sustainability Council, which involves coordinating the Council’s semi-annual Adopt-a-Stream events, hosting a biannual forum on faculty/staff outreach in sustainability, and leading the Subcommittee's efforts to develop a new grants program for sustainability outreach.
Professional Development Programming for Environmental Educators: Laura strives to increase the capacity for environmental education (EE) in the Southern Appalachian region through a series of EE professional development workshops. By training public school teachers and non-formal educators (park rangers, nature center staff, non-profit staff, scout leaders, etc.) in environmental curricula and teaching methods, these workshops expand the capacity of educators who will raise the environmental literacy of many school children and citizens of all ages. She has coordinated thirteen workshops and served as instructor for one of those workshops.
Hardin Creek Partnership: Several years ago, Laura helped found, the Hardin Creek Partnership. The Partnership includes representatives of Appalachian State University, Watauga High School, NC Cooperative Extension, New River Conservancy, Watauga Co. Planning & Inspections, Watauga Co. Soil & Water, Town of Boone Planning & Inspections, Town of Boone Public Works, Mountain Alliance, and Trout Unlimited. This community partnership has been working to secure the support of local elected bodies for a Hardin Creek restoration project.
Title: Senior Lecturer
Department: Sustainable Development
Email address: Email me
Phone: (828) 262-7237