Environmental Leadership Program

Providing the skills, confidence and inspiration to make a difference!  

Students in a huddle at outdoor work site

The Environmental Leadership Program is an interdisciplinary community-based learning program that matches student teams with non-profit organizations, government agencies and businesses to address community-defined environmental issues. With the overarching objective of developing reciprocal and mutually-beneficial partnerships between students and community organizations, our goals are to provide:

Our goals are to provide:

  1. Undergraduate students with unique and practical learning experiences that develop their professional, leadership, technical, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication experience and skills;
  2. Graduate students with project management, mentoring, and team-building experience and skills; and
  3. Organizations with high-quality services that further their missions.

Our projects take place primarily on the traditional homelands of the Kalapuya peoples. We recognize this land acknowledgement is just a starting place–an invitation for us to consider what our settler-colonial history means for our pedagogical practices and our community-based work, as well as inspiration to redouble our efforts to develop courses and community-based projects that promote environmental and social justice.



We develop our projects cooperatively with community partners. Depending on partners’ needs, projects can address environmental education and outreach, natural resource management, habitat restoration, species conservation, environmental monitoring, sustainable business practices, ecotourism, recreation management, environmental justice, and other topics. 

Currently, we have four primary focal areas. 

student measuring conifer seedling

In our Conservation Science in Action projects, students assist community partners by completing hands-on restoration projects, creating assessments and management plans, or acquiring and analyzing needed environmental data. 

Environmental Studies Humanties

In our Environmental Education projects, students develop, implement, and share transformative learning experiences for children in nature. Students create scientifically rigorous curricula, teach programs in classrooms and conduct field trip activities. 

Person making a video of the McKenzie River

In our Community Engagement and Justice projects, students work directly with communities to address our pressing environmental and social justice issues. Through methods such as oral histories, science communication, creative works and direct action, these projects seek to center and amplify voices that have often gone unheard and generate new approaches that build inclusive and resilient communities.

Students looking at control panel

In our Sustainable Practices projects, students implement solutions that address and integrate concerns regarding environmental health, social equity, and economic success. Example projects include renewable energy, waste prevention and recycling, alternative transportation, sustainable business, and organic agriculture. 

How to Apply 

If you would like to apply to the Fall 2024 Learning with Fire ELP Project, please email Peg Boulay (boulay [at] uoregon.edu).

The 2025 ELP project descriptions and application will be posted during late September 2025. The 2024-25 application deadline will be Monday, 11/4/24 at 9:00 am.

The Environmental Leadership Program is open to undergraduates with at least junior standing, although priority consideration will be given to Environmental Studies and Environmental Science majors.  

Please fill out the application form and email it to Katie Lynch (klynch [at] uoregon.edu) and Peg Boulay (boulay [at] uoregon.edu). Don’t forget to attach your resume. After receiving your application, Katie or Peg will email you to schedule an interview. 

Spring 2024 Projects 



Aves Compartidas 2024

Working in partnership with the Willamette-Laja Twinning Project and River Road Elementary School, this team will develop and implement activities that explore the amazing world of birds. We will focus on the migratory birds that connect us with our partner watershed in Laja, Mexico. We’ll explore how to integrate World Migratory Bird Day into our activities and how to raise awareness of the need for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. The team will facilitate five weeks of classroom lessons and lead three field trips – one each for the third, fourth and fifth grade – in spring term.  Previous experience birding and/or Spanish is useful, but not required. This project will build on the Aves Compartidas 2023 team’s work.

Climate Solutions

In partnership with UO’s Soil Plant Atmosphere Lab and the Eugene Water and Electric Board, this team will participate in research examining “enhanced natural climate solutions,” which are novel carbon mitigation and storage methods that leverage and maintain ecosystem processes. You will collect soil, water and vegetation data at a local field experiment on the artificial selection of plant and microbial communities with the goal of accelerating carbon stabilization in agricultural soils. A knowledge of soil science, microbial ecology, botany, ecological restoration or field/lab research is helpful but not required. This project will build upon the 2023 Climate Solutions team’s work.

Climate Science 2024

This team will engage middle-schoolers in learning about old-growth forests, climate science, and climate justice. Your mission will be to show science in action and engage students in an interdisciplinary exploration of climate issues. You’ll implement investigations that collect and examine data related to native flora, nature’s calendar, microclimates, and wildfires. The team will visit classrooms and lead full day field trips to the Andrews Forest in spring term.  You’ll be working in partnership with the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest and various local schools. A background in ecology, climate science and/or wildfire is helpful, but not required. This project will build on the Climate Science/Climate Justice’ 2023 team’s work.

Restoration and Research

With the overall goals of providing shade for Goose Creek and habitat for pollinators, ELP teams have been implementing and maintaining a riparian restoration project at an organic farm—Whitewater Ranch—since 2014. The plantings are thriving, so this team will begin transitioning the project to “free to grow” status by interplanting, removing weed mats, controlling non-native blackberry, and continuing our long-term monitoring of vegetation, pollinators and water temperature. In addition, in partnership with the UO Ponisio Lab, this team will also collect data in research plots that are examining ways to enhance pollinator populations after major disturbances such the September 2020 Holiday Farm Fire and post-fire timber harvest. A knowledge of botany, ecology, pollinators, or ecological restoration is helpful but not required. This project will build upon the 2023 Restoration & Research team’s work (as well as the 2014-2022 Sustainable Farms, Riparian Restoration, Promoting Pollinators teams’ work).

NEW! Wild Wanderers

Get out onto the trails at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum (MPA) with first and second graders to help them cultivate a personal connection to nature. This team’s mission is inspired by the work of 90by30, an organization dedicated to stopping child abuse, neglect and identity-based violence before they occur. The team will facilitate classroom pre-trip lessons on Tuesdays and all-day field trips on Thursdays in spring term. Activities will focus on cultivating joy and sensory awareness – including scavenger hunts and nature journaling – with the goal of providing a warm, cooperative social context for connecting with each other and nature. You’ll be working in partnership with MPA, various local elementary schools, and 90by30.

NEW! Wildlife & Parks

How can parks be managed to improve habitat for wildlife (especially birds and western pond turtles) and increase people’s enjoyment of wildlife and nature, yet minimize impacts of human activities on wildlife populations? In partnership with Friends of Buford Park, this team will conduct wildlife surveys (primarily birds but possibly other species) and evaluate potential impacts of trail management on bird behavior at Howard Buford Recreation Area. Also, in partnership with Willamalane Parks and Recreation District, this team will evaluate potential impacts and ecological restoration opportunities related to a proposed trail and viewing platform at Georgia Pacific Natural Area. A knowledge of bird ecology and identification, wildlife conservation, park management, trail management, or environmental planning is helpful but not required.

Past Projects (Student Websites)