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Photo by Casey Stemler/USFWS

The Value of Reflection and Vision

At various times, a person reflects on their life, year, or simply day. Often, it’s as we reach the New Year that we contemplate our year. With the New Year around the corner, I hope each of you will have more positive reflections than negative about the year 2015. Not only do individuals reflect on their past, but so do organizations and partnerships. In doing so, they hope to recognize their foundation and gain wisdom from both successes and failures, allowing for thoughtful direction for the future.

The PPJV partners are working through the process of reflection and visioning as we revise our Implementation Plan. We will not neglect our foundation, yet we must become more aggressive in our efforts with grassland songbirds, integrating climate change factors into our conservation efforts, and understanding and implementing information derived from social science/human dimensions research.

At a recent PPJV Management Board meeting in Montana, the Board and Technical Committee engaged in a healthy discussion about people (e.g., human dimensions, social science). They recognized that actions, or lack thereof, of people impact everything we do in conservation. With that said, the question was asked, “how is the PPJV going to address this fact and expand its approach and thinking beyond strictly biological science?” The PPJV has provided funding support for some human dimensions research, and the Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperative has invested in several human dimensions studies in our region as well. Nevertheless, the PPJV can and should do more. A paper on the State of the Prairies, published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin a few years ago, recognized habitat conservation funding will always be a limiting factor, so understanding landowners, policy makers, and citizens will be imperative if we hope to achieve conservation goals.

The PPJV isn’t alone in reflecting and visioning. Included in this edition of the newsletter is an article regarding the vision of joint ventures in general. Joint venture coordinators recently gathered for their annual meeting where reflection and visioning was the primary focus. Resulting from the meeting is a succinct document that notes the “challenges,” “ongoing strengths,” and “future direction” for the JV community. This document is included in the article. I would like to highlight a bullet under the “future direction” heading that reads: “the JV community embraces incorporating social science/human dimensions more explicitly into the conservation design and habitat implementation business of the JV enterprise.” So, not only is the PPJV moving toward a stronger effort in human dimensions/social science, the entire joint venture community agreed it is imperative for our collective future successes.

The remaining three articles in this edition of the PPJV newsletter show the range of research and conservation activities underway in our joint venture – from waterfowl to grassland birds to endangered species. I suspect you can find a human dimension / social science aspect to each of the projects!

May you have a safe and memorable holiday season! Further, may good fortune find you in 2016 to create an even brighter future. As I reflect on the PPJV and appreciate its past, I feel excitement as I look toward the future. There is much work to be done in the world of wildlife conservation, and I look forward to working with you as we try to make a difference.

-Casey Stemler, PPJV Coordinator