UW Stevens Point: GEM Awarded $40,000 USDA Forest Service Grant to Fund Community-Based Agroforestry Projects in Northern Wisconsin

The Global Environmental Management Education Center (GEM) at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point has received a $40,000 grant from the USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region-Region 9, to support and promote sustainable natural resources management in rural and underserved communities in Wisconsin through community-based agroforestry projects.

Senior Scientist Mai Phillips, the principal investigator on the grant, explained that this funding targets former Peace Corp volunteers with the ability to use the knowledge and skills developed during their overseas service to improve people’s lives in the United States. A former Peace Corp volunteer, Rhea Trotman, who had just spent two years working with indigenous communities in Paraguay, will spend her next two years working with rural and Native American communities in northern Wisconsin. The project will assist the Forest Service in important natural resource management activities on national forest system lands in the Eastern Region while enabling Trotman to earn a master’s degree in natural resources management from UWSP under the supervision of Phillips.

Through a grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), GEM had undergraduate student interns to work on organic and Native American traditional gardening methods at the Bad River and Red Cliff reservations in Ashland County this summer. Trotman will work closely with the two tribal communities and Green Thumb, an Ashland community garden organization, to continue GEM program’s mission to support local, community-based agriculture.

GEM, launched in 2000, serves to pioneer and apply practical learning methods and technology to solve natural resource problems. The center does this by linking faculty, students, and citizens worldwide. GEM has attracted nearly $10 million in funding to date. Major grants include awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Agency for International Development.

GEM has developed ongoing partnerships in China, Kenya, South Africa, Mexico and other countries. GEM also sponsors “Critical Issues,” an international seminar series held on the UWSP campus, which is free and open to the public.

For more information contact Mai Phillips, Senior Scientist, (715) 346-3786, [email protected] , or Ron Tschida, (715) 346-4266,

Additional information about GEM is available at the following Web site: www.uwsp.edu/cnr/GEM/gemintro.htm.