As officials with the Ottawa Conservation District began developing a management plan for the Pigeon River watershed southwest of Allendale, they turned to a Grand Valley sociologist to help collect crucial data.
Amanda Buday, assistant professor of sociology, specializes in community-based efforts to protect natural resources. How she describes her role: Addressing the human dimensions of natural resource management.
And as Ottawa Conservation District officials work on finalizing a watershed plan to submit to the state — which they hope will open the door to funds for managing that area — they are relying on insight from the work Buday led to understand what residents know about the watershed, how they use it and what they know about potential threats.
Buday has worked extensively with West Michigan community organizations to understand people's relationships with natural resources. She also includes students on the research teams, giving them critical experience.