More great coverage for the new ParentingMontana.org website! In case you missed our recent article, MSU News has published an in-depth feature story on the toolkit of resources developed by the Center for Health and Safety Culture. Read more here.
Fernanda Abra, a Brazilian Ph.D. student who has conducted wildlife research with a leading WTI road ecologist for nearly a decade, is one of only three scientists worldwide to be selected for the 2019 Future For Nature Award, announced on February 19.
A few months ago, eight young conservationists from around the world were nominated for the Future For Nature Award. The nominees came from Brazil, India, Nepal, The Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Rwanda, and the United Kingdom. Today, the three award winners were announced: Fernanda Abra (Brazil), Divya Karnad (India), and Olivier Nsengimana (Rwanda). Fernanda Abra has a long-term connection with Montana and is currently working in Missoula with one of her PhD advisors, Dr. Marcel Huijser.
The Future For Nature Foundation (FFN) is a Dutch organization that supports young, talented and ambitious conservationists, committed to protecting wild animals and wild plant species. FFN states that “The commitment of these individuals is what will make the difference for the future of nature. Through their leadership they inspire and mobilize communities, organizations, governments, investors and the public at large.”
Every year, three awards are available to young conservationists from all over the world. The Award offers the winners international recognition, financial support of 50,000 Euros to carry out their work, and the opportunity to work with an international network of conservationists.
Ms. Abra is a PhD student in the Applied Ecology program at “Luiz de Queiroz” College of Agriculture, University of São Paulo (ESALQ/USP). Her advisors are Dr. Kátia Ferraz (professor at ESALQ/USP, Department of Forest Science, LEMaC Wildlife Ecology, Management and Conservation Lab) and Dr. Marcel Huijser (research ecologist at the Western Transportation Institute, Montana State University).
“As a researcher, Fernanda has already made a positive impact on species conservation in Brazil. For her PhD she is generating knowledge on the number of road-killed mammals, understanding their spatial and temporal patterns, and developing tools to reduce the huge impact of roads and traffic on Brazil’s biodiversity. The combination of hard work and determination will result in reduced unnatural mortality of mammals and reduced habitat fragmentation caused by transportation infrastructure,” Said Dr. Katia Ferraz.
Interested in Road Ecology since 2009, Ms. Abra is now in the final stages of her PhD research. Her work focuses on animal-vehicle collisions along highways in São Paulo State and implications for biological conservation, human safety, and the economy. Dr. Marcel Huijser of the Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University has worked with Ms. Abra for nearly nine years, overseeing her 2010 internship on the wildlife mitigation study along US Hwy 93 on the Flathead Indian Reservation, as well as advising on both her Masters research and her PhD in Brazil. Through her work with Dr. Huijser she has been fortunate to be able to study and apply some of the lessons learned from Montana’s investment in wildlife crossing structures along highways and animal detection systems in the region.
As Dr. Huijser explains:“Fernanda has long term vision, concrete goals, and the political savvy to get things done. When I first met her in 2010, she realized that local expertise in road ecology was needed to manage the environmental impacts associated with Brazil’s quickly expanding transportation network. And she made this happen by securing funding for me to teach two graduate level road ecology courses and for two national conferences on transportation ecology. Thanks to her vision, hundreds of Brazilian students, researchers, and policy makers have been introduced to road ecology concepts. As a result, an increasing number of wildlife mitigation measures are being effectively implemented on the ground in Brazil.”
In addition to her academic research and work as a consultant, Ms. Abra volunteers as a road ecologist for several conservation projects including the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative and the Anteaters and Highways Project. She is also responsible for the road-ecology data in the National Action Plans for threatened canids, felids and ungulates, including iconic species such as the maned wolf, hoary fox, jaguar, puma, and lowland tapir.
Dr. Patricia Medici, coordinator of Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative in Brazil, Chair of Tapir Specialist Group of IUCN and Winner of the FFN Award in 2008 has worked with Ms. Abra for several years. She explains that: “Fernanda plays a key role in the conservation of Brazilian mammal species because she knows how to measure the extent of the road-kill impact, the barrier effect of transportation infrastructure, and, most importantly, she knows how to mitigate the problems. I find it very interesting how Fernanda feels confident and comfortable both doing fieldwork under tough conditions along highways and participating in technical and political meetings with professionals and authorities from environmental and transportation agencies. She is extremely versatile and knows how to keep that link between the world out there and the meeting rooms.”
FFN winners are truly inspiring young individuals, who are bringing creative and innovative solutions to pressing environmental problems. Ms. Abra’s win shines a light on the global impact of roads on wildlife and the leadership role that both Montana and Brazil are taking to mitigate these impacts for the benefit of people and wildlife.
In response to winning the award, Ms. Abra said: “I feel so fortunate to work with incredible species such as tapirs, giant anteaters, maned wolf, jaguar, and other Brazilian canids and felids, and to be advised and supported by respected researchers and conservationists! I´m honored to receive the Future For Nature Award – this will help upscale my efforts to work with stakeholders, implement on-the-ground projects, and help protect Brazil’s amazing biodiversity.”
More information about Future for Nature: https://futurefornature.org/
More information about ESALQ/USP, Department of Forest Science, LEMaC Wildlife Ecology, Management and Conservation Lab: https://www.esalqlemac.com/
Winter Bike to Work Day and new campus shuttle promote transportation options
Snow is falling and so are the temperatures, but hearty Bozeman residents never shy away from going outside in the winter. With that in mind, the Bozeman Commuter Project is sponsoring Winter Bike to Work Day on March 8, 2019 to encourage local commuters to continue (or even start!) cycling to work through the winter months. Participants who register at bozemancommute.org can earn reward coupons for local coffee shops and breweries. The project also provides cyclists with tips for cycling safely in winter conditions. WTI is a partner in the Bozeman Commuter project and is helping to promote this event. “We always get a great response to our commuter challenges in the summer months,” said project coordinator Dani Hess; “we want to keep that momentum going and keep encouraging the folks who choose to get around by bike in the winter months as well.”
In other commuter news, the Associated Students of Montana State University have launched a campus shuttle that makes loops around the perimeter of campus every 20 minutes on weekdays from 7:40 a.m. until 5:40 p.m. The service is free to students, staff, faculty and visitors, so check out the route map and additional information here. WTI has also provided support to this pilot effort through the Bozeman Transportation Demand Management project. “We’re excited to see the growing interest in transportation options at MSU from student leadership and are happy to be a part of piloting and evaluating new services like the campus shuttle,” said Hess.
WTI Program Manager Ahmed Al-Kaisy is the lead author of “Motorists’ voluntary yielding of right of way at uncontrolled midblock crosswalks with rectangular rapid flashing beacons,” recently published in the Journal of Transportation Safety and Security. This article presents an investigation into the motorists’ voluntary yielding behavior to bicycles and pedestrians. Two study sites in the state of Montana with light emitting diode (LED) rectangular rapid ﬂashing beacons (RRFB) warning devices were used in this investigation.
Citation: Ahmed Al-Kaisy, Guilherme T. Miyake, Joey Staszcuk & Danielle Scharf (2018) Motorists’ voluntary yielding of right of way at uncontrolled midblock crosswalks with rectangular rapid flashing beacons, Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, 10:4, 303-317, DOI: 10.1080/19439962.2016.1267827
Northwest Science has published the journal article “Swimming Capabilities of Artic Grayling.” The article, authored by Joel Cahoon, Audrey Jones, and Kathryn Plymesser of MSU’s Civil Engineering Department; Kevin Kappenman and Erin Ryan of the US Fish and Wildlife Service; and Matt Blank of WTI highlights research to study the swimming ability of arctic grayling and to examine the effect of repeated trials using the same fish. The research is a collaboration among WTI, the MSU Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and one of several projects the partners have conducted together at the Bozeman Fish Technology Center. More information about the sturgeon project is available on the WTI website, and more information about the collaborative research program is available on the MSU Fish Passage webpage.
Citation: Joel Cahoon, Kevin Kappenman, Erin Ryan, Audrey Jones, Kathryn Plymesser and Matt Blank. “Swimming Capabilities of Arctic Grayling,” Northwest Science 92(3), (1 October 2018). https://doi.org/10.3955/046.092.0309
Traffic safety citizenship is an emerging approach to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on our roadways. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies recently published “The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship” by Kari Finley, Jay Otto, and Nic Ward of the Center for Health and Safety Culture. The journal article describes their study to develop a model to identify beliefs and values associated with intention to engage in traffic safety citizenship behaviors with strangers and to explore the role of an individual’s perception of social capital in this model. This study focused on two safety citizenship behaviors: intervening as a driver to ask a passenger to wear a seat belt and intervening as a passenger to ask a driver to stop reading or typing on a cell phone while driving.
Citation: Finley, Kari, Jay Otto, and Nicholas Ward. 2018. “The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship.” The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies 13 (2): 29-41. doi:10.18848/2327-0071/CGP/v13i02/29-41.
The National Center for Rural Road Safety (Safety Center) is hosting a FREE, 1.5-hour online webinar on February 28, entitled “Bridging the Gap: Recap of Safety Summit #2”. This webinar will provide a recap of the 2nd National Summit on Rural Road Safety: Bridging the Gap. If you were not able to join us in Savannah, GA in December 2018, then this webinar is for you! Come hear an overview of the most important takeaways from this action-oriented event with interactive sessions to assist attendees on their Road to Zero. More details and registration information are available here.
Attention Montana parents! The Center for Health and Safety Culture (CHSC), in partnership with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, has created ParentingMontana.org – a new website packed with informative tools on guiding children and teens toward safe and healthy behaviors.
On January 23, Montana Governor Steve Bullock officially launched the website with a news conference, stating “In Montana, we want what’s best for our kids and we all want to be the best parent possible. Now, there’s a new resource available to tackle the wide variety of challenges youth deal with and to support the success of each child in Montana.”
The website features practical tools for parents with kids ranging from age five to age nineteen, covering challenging topics such as anger, bullying, chores, confidence, conflict, discipline, friends, homework, listening, lying, peer pressure, reading, routines, stress, and underage drinking. It is the product of months of thorough and detailed work by the entire staff at CHSC.
Principal Investigators Annmarie McMahill and Jay Otto had the opportunity to participate in the news conference to celebrate the website going live. “It is exciting to see all these great tools come together in one easy-to-use location,” said Annmarie, “and so gratifying to work on a project that will be immediately helpful to parents, teachers, and caregivers in our communities.”
CHSC has posted the Governor’s full news release on its website.
Several news stories also feature photos, video clips and quotes by CHSC staff:
KXLH Channel 9 (Helena); KRTV Channel 3 (Great Falls); and KPAX (Missoula) News: https://kxlh.com/news/montana-and-regional-news/2019/01/24/state-announces-new-program-for-montana-parents/
Montana Public Radio: http://www.mtpr.org/post/state-launches-website-help-parents-raise-their-kids
Natalie Villwock-Witte traveled to San Augustine, Texas in January to report on a rural transit pilot program to the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG). DETCOG and the Area Agency on Aging launched a pilot program in 2018 to provide monthly vouchers to seniors in five counties to pay for rides to medical appointments, shopping trips, and social events. WTI, in partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation and the USDA, provided technical assistance for the program. Natalie reported that more than 50 area residents aged 60 and older signed up and used the program during the pilot period. “Thanks to the support of the Area Agency on Aging, the program will continue to provide rides to seniors,” said Natalie; “if DETCOG and other partners are able to secure additional funding sources, there may be opportunities to expand the program to serve other populations with transportation needs.”
DETCOG recently highlighted the project presentation on its website. Additional information about WTI’s other NADO technical assistance projects in rural communities is available on the WTI website. The pilot project final report is also available on the SURTCOM/WTI website.
When the Citizen Times in North Carolina wants to know about wildlife crossings, its reporters call on WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser. Columnist Bill McGoun interviewed Marcel about the installation costs of wildlife crossings and fencing for an opinion piece last week, entitled “In rural WNC, human must progress in harmony with wildlife.” As part of an ongoing series in the Times about wildlife corridors, Marcel’s expertise has already been included in three articles since the start of 2019! Read about the previous articles on the WTI News page.