Posted: September 9, 2022

The Center for Economic and Community Development invites you to join us for the Fall 2022 “Stories from the Field” conversation series. Join us to hear from and talk with speakers Lara Fowler, Maddy Nyblade, and Darren Marshall about their community engagement and applied research.

Each "Stories from the Field” session will be open and conversational. Speakers will share a bit about their work to springboard conversations with attendees about the practice of community engagement and applied research. We hope you’ll join us!  

September 22: “Bridging the valley of death: Finding creative ways to manage social & environmental challenges

Photo of Lara Fowler with a body of water in the backgroundJoin us for a conversation with Lara Fowler, senior lecturer at Penn State Law and Penn State Interim Chief Sustainability Officer and Interim Director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, about her approach to engaging communities in water dispute resolution, drawing on examples from her work on the West Coast, as well as recent work on water and agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay region and flood resilience for Pennsylvania communities. 

During this talk, Lara will discuss projects she's worked on, including who is entitled to store groundwater in the greater Los Angeles area and how combining both flood impact resilience and habitat restoration has helped community members in a Washington State river basin move forward. Closer to home, she'll also discuss work on water and agriculture in the Chesapeake Bay region and flood resilience for Pennsylvania communities. Finally, she'll share some ideas about what sustainability might mean for Penn State, Pennsylvania, and beyond. This interactive session is open to all and meant to provide plenty of time for discussion. 

Lara has a long background in environmental issues, particularly water and dispute resolution. Prior to joining Penn State in 2012, she worked on public policy issues for the Oregon Water Resources Department, attended the University of Washington School of Law, and practiced with Gordon Thomas Honeywell LLP from its Seattle, Washington office. As a private practitioner, she worked on a number of projects that brought stakeholders, science, and the law together with a focus on finding workable solutions. For example, she helped facilitate discussions on how to address chronic flooding issues in Washington State’s second largest river basin, mediated challenging water issues in California and Oregon, and counseled private clients on various regulatory matters, both water and energy related.  

She now wears multiple administrative hats at Penn State, where she also teaches water law; energy law; negotiation and dispute resolution design; and mediation of environmental and public conflicts. Her current research focuses on how water, energy, and ways of managing conflict play out in a region that includes the Chesapeake Bay, agriculture, flood-prone rivers, biofuels and other types of energy development. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022 from 12:00-1:00pm via ZoomRegister to join Lara’s session via Zoom 

October 12: “Community-Driven Science with Tribes in the Upper Great Lakes Region

Photo of Maddy Nyblade sitting in a canoe amongst wild riceJoin us for a conversation with UMN PhD Candidate and PSU alumna Maddy Nyblade about her experience conducting research through a collaborative, tribally-driven project about Wild Rice in the Great Lakes region. 

Research at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (UMN) has negatively impacted Indigenous Peoples around the upper Great Lakes. Within this context, a collaborative of UMN researchers, tribes, and inter-tribal organizations came together to center tribal priorities and approaches in researching Wild Rice, a sacred relative and central food to the Anishinaabe, Dakota, and many other Indigenous Peoples. This session will explore Maddy's experience as part of this collaborative, showcasing the tensions and transformations possible through Tribal-University partnership. 

Maddy Nyblade is a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Minnesota studying the hydrology of Manoomin (wild rice) ecosystems as part of a tribal-university partnership, Kawe Gidaa-naanaagadawendaamin Manoomin. She is interested in decolonizing, community-driven research in pursuit of understanding water, ways of knowing, and equitable collaboration to achieve water justice. Maddy is also a 2018 graduate of Penn State (BS Geoscience with honors in Community, Environment, and Development). 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022 from 12:00-1:00pm via Zoom - Register to join Maddy's session via Zoom. 

November 2022: Stories from the Field with Darren Marhsall 

Darren Marshall SFTF headshot.pngJoin us for a conversation with Darren Marhsall, Southern Queensland Landscape’s pest and community engagement specialist, about his work using community engagement as an essential strategy for feral pig management in Australia.  

Details of Darren’s talk are forthcoming – stay tuned! Darren is currently working to complete a PhD at the University of New England in collaboration with supervisors from Penn State University, and he’s planning a trip to University Park for November 2022. For now, learn a bit about Darren’s work with feral pigs and landscape management.  


With questions about the Stories from the Field series, please contact Alyssa Gurklis ( or 814-863-3536).