By Published On: September 3, 2019

Changing the Conservation Conversation

What happens when landowners come to a workshop where they talk and conservation professionals listen? A recent study by researchers from Virginia Tech and University of Montana finds that engaging landowners in the conservation conversation through participatory research can be beneficial in bridging the gap between professionals and landowners.

The study, which was published in Society and Natural Resources, evaluated a unique type of participatory process, landowner-listening workshops. The approach was first put forth by Partners for Conservation and focuses on bringing together landowners and conservation professionals with the emphasis on hearing from the landowners while the professionals listen.

As collaborative efforts gain traction both within conservation practice and research, landowner-listening workshops offer promise for gaining insight into landowner perceptions of private lands conservation. By empowering landowners and building relationships, landowner-listening workshops promote more effective, locally-grounded conservation efforts on private lands – a benefit for all. Such participatory efforts are important for informing policy and programs for landowners.

We would like to thank numerous partners, funders, and collaborators in this project including the Intermountain West Joint Venture, Partners for Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Mountain-Prairie Region), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (Oregon State Office), and many state and local partners in Wyoming, Colorado, California, and Oregon. We would also like to thank the landowners and conservation professionals who attended and participated in our workshops. 

The first 50 visitors to Society and Natural Resources can read and download the article for free. You are also welcome to contact author, Mary Sketch (, for a copy of the article.