Photo Credit: Steve Daniels leads an exercise. Photo by Mark Hummel/USFS

In the fall of 2014, Gloria Erickson, Dovetail Partners’ Local Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator, attended a Collaborative Learning Training Program (CLTP) workshop at Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Minnesota. The East Range Joint Powers Board (ERJPB) and the USDA Forest Service (USFS) sponsored the event. The ERJPB serves as an economic development organization for the towns of Hoyt Lakes, Aurora and the Town of White in northern Minnesota. The CLTP team is led by Steve Daniels, a professor in the Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology Department and Extension Director of Community Development Programs at Utah State University, and Gregg Walker, a professor of Communication and adjunct professor in the Environmental Sciences, Forest Ecosystems and Society, Marine Resources Management, and Water Resources Management programs at Oregon State University. Daniels and Walker have been applying collaborative learning ideas to natural resource management situations for over 20 years, including work with national forests, government agencies, non-profit organizations and communities.

The workshop, held in October 2014, served as a kickoff event for the larger CLTP. The ultimate goal is to gather folks interested in collaborating with the USFS to chart a course for sustainable forest management on public lands throughout the Iron Range area of northern Minnesota and empower them to make positive change through the use of collaborative learning and leadership skills. CLTP provides a variety of training, skills development and capacity building options, including modules focused on systems thinking, collaborative-potential assessment, stakeholder relationship building, conflict management, interest-based negotiation, public participation, collaborative leadership, and effective communication.

The results of a collaborative brainstorming session focused on the wildfire problem in Ely, MN. Photo credit: Mark Hummel/USFS

The results of a collaborative brainstorming session focused on the wildfire problem in Ely, MN. Photo credit: Mark Hummel/USFS

The two-day CLTP workshop involved skills training geared towards aiding USFS employees, partners and community members and enabling them to work collaboratively toward community improvement. Approximately 80 people attended, including employees from the USFS, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, county government, Minnesota Power, The Nature Conservancy, and the University of Minnesota County Extension as well as private parties, environmental groups, university researchers and elected officials. The workshop covered: an overview of what collaborative learning entails, how to effectively utilize it, and potential partnerships for collaboration amongst workshop participants. The CLTP workshop served to lay the groundwork for understanding how forest management is connected to many other issues and opportunities throughout the Iron Range.

Gloria obtained an array of high-quality learning tools at the workshop that will better enable her to work with diverse groups of folks moving forward with FAC Learning Network Hub efforts in the Upper Midwest. As Local Area Fire Adapted Communities Coordinator in Ely, MN, Gloria has been an integral on-the-ground force for positive change and collaboration amongst community members, fire chiefs, foresters and USFS personnel.

Additional collaborative learning, facilitation training, leadership and conflict/resolution resources can be found on Dovetail’s website. Collaborative learning tools, best practices and structural examples of collaborative processes can be found on the National Forest Foundation’s website. These resources may also serve as beneficial resources for FAC Learning Network participants.

 To view and download Dovetail resources, visit:

To view and download National Forest Foundation resources, visit:

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