Human Dimensions of Natural Resources Ph.D. candidate Megan Jones recently won an award for the Best Speed Presentation at the North American Congress for Conservation Biology in Toronto Canada. Jones applied to be considered in January, and was shortlisted in March to present this July. Out of the numerous applications only six total students won, representing each of the following categories: best full length talk, best full length talk with application, best speed talk, best speed talk with application, best poster, and best poster with conservation application.

Jones’ talk was only 4 minutes long, a feat in and of itself, and was centered around the research she conducted on “wildscape” gardening on the Colorado Front Range as a case study on conservation behavior change. This project was done in partnership with Audubon Rockies, and describes the process of creating native habitat for wildlife on private properties in urban areas.

For her research, Jones used a combination of semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and document analysis to study people who had participated in two wildscape gardening programs called Wildscape Ambassadors and Habitat Heroes. Further, she sought to understand how these participants began and sustained their wildscaping gardening while also becoming advocates for wildscaping in their community.

Jones found that participants engaged in a multi-step transformation process, with two critical components that advance conservation behavior change theory: (1) feedback loops, by which participants’ satisfaction and enjoyment of their initial wildscaping behaviors inspires them to attempt new behaviors, and (2) diffusion of innovation, by which participants seek to inspire others to adopt these behaviors as well.

Further findings and discussion will be released soon in a report for the Audubon Rockies and their partners. Jones is an alumnae of our award winning M.S. in Conservation Leadership Through Learning.

Megan Jones Award