SFFI is thrilled to welcome the newest member of our team, Cassidy Dellorto-Blackwell. Cassidy is a postgraduate fellow coming to us from the University of Michigan, where she recently received her Master of Science in Natural Resources and Environment. Before getting her master’s, she worked on a farm, in community development, and for the Peace Corps in China.
Cassidy will be working on our new partnership with the Women Owning Woodlands Collaborative. I was able to sit down with Cassidy this week and ask her some questions about her new position and what she will be working on.
What drew you to working with SFFI?
I studied environmental psychology and conservation ecology while I was at Michigan—I was looking at how our perceptions of and relationships with our environments affect conservation behavior as well as the inverse of that—how our environments shape our behaviors and mental states. I felt really lucky to find a position like this that utilizes behavioral research to leverage conservation outcomes.
What is Women Owning Woodlands?
Women Owning Woodlands (WOW) is a collaborative project of the National Woodland Owners Association and US Forest Service that aims to help women forest owners build their skills, understanding, and connection to their land—thereby helping women increase their confidence and ability to make informed forest management decisions. Often, women are left with making the final decisions for their land’s management and legacy—and it’s not uncommon that these women have been left out of management decisions in the past. This knowledge gap can cause these women to feel vulnerable or ill-equipped in working with foresters or loggers to take action for the future of their forests. WOW networks and programs can bridge those gaps and help women build confidence in their knowledge and skills—so they feel that they have all the information they need to make decisions that work for them and their land.
Right now, WOW exists in several forms throughout the country and as an online resource for women landowners. A large part of my position has been doing a lot of backend research for the development of a workshop to bring together natural resource professionals from across the country who do this work or want to start integrating women-focused landowner engagement and programming into their work. After the workshop, we plan to develop a suite of resources and support tools to help build capacity and sustainability around women landowner engagement and programming.
What are you most excited about in the next few weeks?
I’m pretty busy with the WOW workshop that will happen in early October; and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be great. I’m also excited to see the result of that work—how the workshop experience directly helps the folks who attend implement or improve women landowner programming.
Where are you headed next?
We’re headed to Nevada to host a TELE workshop, and then we’ll be in New York for the WOW workshop the following week.
Finally, what do you do in your free time?
I’m new to New Haven so I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring the city on my bike. There’s a lot of interesting architecture, with old and new buildings mixed together—and lots of great parks!