Jessica E. Leahy

Program Leader, Family Forest Program

Research Interests
Family Forests
Social Capital and Trust
Information Effects

Media Expertise
Natural Resource Management and Planning
Small Woodlot Management
Recreation Access

Research Projects
People, Landscape and Communities (PLACE)

Graduate Student Opportunities:

Actively recruiting for Master of Science in Forest Resources students, as well as Master of Forestry students for our accredited forestry program.  Ph.D. opportunities are limited. Please inquire before applying.


  • University of Minnesota, Ph.D. (Natural Resources Science & Management)
  • Oregon State University, M.S. (Forest Resources)
  • Oregon State University, Honors B.S. (Forest Recreation Resources)


  • SFR 220: Environment & Society
  • SFR 222: Environmental Communication
  • SFR 452: Environmental Interpretation


Jessica Leahy is an Associate Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources at the University of Maine. Her research examines environmental attitudes and behaviors towards forests, forestry, and other natural resource management topics using a social psychology and communication approach. Her research program encompasses forest landowner decision-making processes; the role of social capital and trust in public involvement, participation, and citizen science; and the influence of media and educational campaigns on attitudes and behavior.

Leahy’s SSI research team is investigating the complex relationships between stewardship ethics, sense of place, and intentions to develop forested land. Findings from this research could impact the current and future actions of private landowners as they relate to forested land. 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 permanent loss of Maine’s forest resources.

In addition to her research activities, Leahy is a Blue Sky Faculty Fellow, and serves as the 2nd Vice President of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, member of the Woodlands Operating Committee of the American Forest Foundation, member of the Independent Standards Review Panel of the American Tree Farm System, vice-chair of the Maine Society of American Foresters, working group chair of Social and Related Sciences for the New England Society of American Foresters, and program chair of the 2015 Society of American Foresters National Convention.

Selected Publications

K. Hutchins, L. Lindenfeld, K. Bell, J. Leahy, and L. Silka, “Strengthening Knowledge Co-Production Capacity: Examining Interest in Community-University Partnerships,” Sustainability 5, no. 9 (2013): 3744-3770.

J. Smith, J. Leahy, D. Anderson, and M. Davenport, “Community/Agency Trust: A Measurement Instrument,” Society & Natural Resources 26, no. 4 (2013): 472-477.

M. Snell, K. Bell, and J. Leahy, “Local Institutions and Lake Management,” Lakes & Reservoirs: Research & Management 18, no. 1 (2013): 35-44.

K. Bell, L. Lindenfeld, A. Speers, M. Teisl, and J. Leahy, “Creating Opportunities for Improving Lake-Focused Stakeholder Engagement: Knowledge-Action Systems, Pro-Environment Behaviour and Sustainable Lake Management,” Lakes & Reservoirs: Research & Management 18, no. 1 (2013): 5-14.

J. Leahy and E. Gorczyca, “Agent-Based Modeling of Harvest Decisions by Small Scale Forest Landowners in Maine, USA,” International Journal of Forest Research 2, no. 1 (2013): 1-13.

Y. Manik, J. Leahy, and A. Halog, “Social Life Cycle Assessment of Palm Oil Biodiesel: A Case Study in Jambi Province of Indonesia,” International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 18 (2013): 1386-1392.

J. Jansujwicz, A. Calhoun, J. Leahy, and R. Lilieholm, “Using Mixed Methods to Develop a Frame-Based Private Landowner Typology,” Society & Natural Resources 26, no. 8 (2013): 945-961.

J. Smith, J. Leahy, D. Anderson, and M. Davenport, “Community/Agency Trust and Public Involvement in Resource Planning,” Society & Natural Resources 26, no. 4 (2013): 452-471.

E. Gorczyca, P. Lyons, J. Leahy, T. Johnson, and C. Straub, “Improving Family Forest Knowledge Transfer through Social Network Analysis,” Applied Environmental Education & Communication 11 (2012): 157-164.