Researchers - Jessica Leahy
Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources
School of Forest Resources
University of Maine
What problem/s are you working to solve?
My SSI Ph.D. student, Mike Quartuch, seeks to better understand factors influencing landowner behavior. He will be investigating the complex relationships between stewardship ethics, sense of place, and intention to develop forest land. New and innovative solutions are necessary to address the development pressure that continues to increase throughout the United States and in Maine.
What progress are you making toward solutions?
Currently, Mike is the process of analyzing a Kennebec County landowner survey. Two primary sections in the survey focused on landowner stewardship, stewardship ethics, and development. Findings from the survey will help to inform researchers and professionals about why landowners make the decisions that they do and what factors influence their stewardship ethic. In turn, this information will be used to inform policy makers and the Maine Forest Service about how to better serve Maine’s private landowners while conserving vital forest resources.
How could your findings contribute to a more sustainable future in Maine and beyond?
As the majority of Maine’s forests are privately owned it is imperative that we understand how and why these individuals behave the way they do. Private landowners have the potential to alter Maine’s forested landscape both now and into the future. If policy makers or state and federal agencies are made aware of the issues that private landowners face, as well as potential trends in development, more thorough engagement efforts and policies could be designed to prevent the loss of Maine’s forest resources.
Why did you decide to join SSI?
I joined SSI in order to work with interesting faculty across the entire campus. I have solidified wonderful working relationships with collaborating faculty as a result of SSI.
What’s the best part about collaborating on SSI research projects?
I love all the meetings we have where there is mutual learning.
Where’s your favorite place in Maine?
As an avid angler, I am sworn to secrecy about the location of my favorite fishing hole. But, I will let you sneak a peek at it:
What’s your ultimate Maine experience?
Here’s a You Tube link to my ultimate Maine experience:
Whitewater canoeing exemplifies the best of Maine’s natural resources and people. I have seen the most beautiful and remote places in Maine from the unique vantage point of a canoe in the middle of a river. This IS the outside. And like most Mainers, the paddling community is friendly, open, encouraging, and adventurous. They ENJOY being outside.
Mud season survival strategy?
- Studying Delorme’s Maine Atlas & Gazetteer to plot out the next 6 months of outdoor adventures.
- Organizing my fishing tackle box by target species, color, hook size, and soft, hard, or metal.
- Wrapping up games with my two recreational ice hockey leagues (co-ed with the Dover-Foxcroft Old Timers and women’s with the Bangor Brutes) before the ice arenas shut down for the year.
What sustains you?
Family, friends, food, and….forests!
Additional information about Jessica and her SSI team
- Faculty Profile – Sustaining Maine’s Family Forests
- Jessica’s SSI Research Project
- Forest Resources Faculty Page