White Buffalo Land Trust
Biodiversity Monitoring on Regeneratively Farmed Land
Desired Background: Environmental Science and Ecology, Botany, Conservation Bioacoustics, Avian Population Studies, Community (Citizen) Science, Conservation Science, Communication, Education, Evolutionary Biology, Biodiversity, Automation, Agriculture
Primary Skills: Research and Field Work, Data Collection and Analysis, Program Development, Volunteer leadership and coordination
Secondary Skills: Communication/storytelling, Leadership Skills, Strong organizational skills.
Physical abilities: The terrain at JCR can be challenging, and the Fellow must be able to hike up and down hills.
Primary Desired Training: GIS familiarity (preferred but not required); species identification
Important Traits: Inquisitive mind, passion for subject matter, optimistic outlook, easy going nature, ability to be flexible with changing plans
Openings: 0 of 1
Education & Outreach
Goals & Needs
White Buffalo Land Trust (WBLT) practices, promotes, and develops systems of Regenerative Agriculture (RA) for local, regional, and global impact. Through land stewardship, education, research, and product development, we focus on the restoration of healthy soils, watersheds, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and the increased nutrition and resilience of plant and animal production. Our goal is to inspire the rapid adoption of RA locally, regionally, and globally. We accomplish this by modeling these principles and practices on our own land, facilitating programs focused on developing the next generation of land stewards, producing verifiable outcomes through field research, and by developing regeneratively-produced products that change the marketplace.
The Fellow will be responsible for developing new methodologies, creating education programs and testing existing monitoring protocols to track biodiversity at Jalama Canyon Ranch (JCR). The project's initial stage will involve a review of literature and interviews with researchers to identify the best metrics, methodology, and equipment for biodiversity monitoring at working lands such as JCR. Working with the education team, the Fellow will develop a community science program to assist with monitoring and attracting people to JCR. Alongside the WBLT team, the Fellow will utilize the protocols identified/developed in the initial project phase to monitor biodiversity at JCR.
Declining biodiversity has been linked to reduced ecosystem functioning (e.g., productivity, nutrient cycling) essential for sustaining the health of natural and human systems. We believe that by integrating natural processes in the production of food, RA can provide habitat for increased species diversity and richness, which in turn can increase resilience in agro-ecosystems. The Fellow will help develop and communicate biodiversity monitoring plans for JCR with clear research, education and applied outcomes. This framework will help inform monitoring not only at JCR, but will also be used to demonstrate the impacts of RA to other land stewards looking to transition to RA.
Our project aligns with the GrizzlyCorps’ goal of promoting regenerative food systems to improve the health and adaptability of farms, ecosystems and communities. We are practicing, promoting, and demonstrating RA to show that it is a viable means of growing food and teaching and encouraging other land stewards to adopt these practices; this work aligns with the GrizzlyCorps’ goal of incorporating RA practices, which can build resilience through improving biodiversity, soil, and watershed health. Our organization will document and share with other Fellows best practices on biodiversity monitoring and evaluation.
Capacity Building Projects
Declining biodiversity has been linked to a decrease in ecosystem functions such as nutrient cycling, productivity, and resilience to pests and disease. Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves watersheds, and enhances ecosystem services, while providing support and resilience for farmer livelihoods. The Fellow will implement a project in service of White Buffalo Land Trust’s mission of restoring our ecosystem through regenerative agriculture, specifically as it pertains to improving biodiversity. The objective of the project is to test existing biodiversity monitoring protocols, and develop new methodologies with clear research, education, and applied outcomes. This will be achieved through three phases of the project:
1. Research and Development: The Fellow will research existing protocols and literature,as well as interview leading researchers and organizations to identify the most relevant methodology, metrics, tools and equipment to monitor the impacts of regenerative agriculture on biodiversity. This will include exploring collaborations with organizations such as Wild Farm Alliance, Natural Resources Conservation Service and others to determine best practices for setting up biodiversity monitoring. This information will be used to further the biodiversity monitoring framework for JCR. The Fellow will also identify platforms and programs (iNaturalist, ArcGIS surveys etc.) to engage with the community in through Comunity Science efforts.
2. Protocol Implementation and Quality Control: The Fellow will test existing protocols and define new methodologies/technologies for biodiversity monitoring at JCR. This will be achieved through field research in conjunction with the WBLT team. Additionally, working in conjunction with the education arm of WBL, the Fellow will develop community science projects with the aim of educating the public about the significance of biodiversity loss and of WBLT’s broader mission.
3. Synthesis: The final phase of the project will include adding to our internal Biodiversity Monitoring Module detailing the methodology used for biodiversity monitoring and the results from baseline monitoring.
Organizational & Community Highlights
The Fellow will benefit from the large network of partners and contributors White Buffalo Land Trust has cultivated. We are committed to our regional work while also being part of a global network of positive change-makers shifting resources towards projects, people, and processes that value and benefit the ecosystem services that we all rely upon. We have been inspired by many and work closely with a select few to curate the collaborative network that will allow us the opportunity to do our best work and support others in theirs. These are some of the organizations that we are excited to be working with: The Nature Conservancy, Kiss the Ground, Community Environmental Council, The Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, Terra Genesis International, the Bionutrient Association, UC Santa Barbara, Caltech, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, The Soil Inventory Project, Savory Network, REGRARIANS, Santa Barbara Foundation, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, Open TEAM, and Regen Network.
The Fellow will have access to a variety of training opportunities WBLT offers, including but not limited to the following:
Savory Institute Hub - Holistic Management Intensive Training Course
Savory Institute Hub - Ecological Outcome Verification Course
White Buffalo Land Trust Programming, including "All Hands On" Wrrkshops, Speaker Series and Field Days.
As the Fellow enacts upon the project purpose of developing a monitoring protocol for exploring the linkage between regenerative agriculture and biodiversity, they will have the opportunity to interact with researchers, organizations, and farmers/ranchers/growers within our local and regional community, who have spearheaded biodiversity initiatives on working lands. The Fellow will develop community science projects and communication materials to share with others interested in tracking the biodiversity impacts of regenerative agriculture.
The Fellow will be placed within the Research and Monitoring team at White Buffalo Land Trust, and will have the opportunity to mold a hybrid work experience with remote work developing the monitoring protocol and training materials, and in-person field research and monitoring. The Fellow will interact and learn from different arms of our team–a diverse, passionate, committed group of individuals, including the Directors of the Land Stewardship and Communications and Marketing teams, to develop a more holistic understanding of the process of developing regeneratively grown products. This includes grapes from our 5-acre vineyard, and livestock regeneratively grazed on 400-acres of grasslands. JCR is an inclusive, welcoming environment, and is an inspirational “living laboratory” for all those who observe and respect all the land has to offer.
White Buffalo Land Trust will also be able to provide occasional housing when field work dictates the need (estimate one-two nights per month on average).