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Faculty Profile
Jill Weiss

Assistant Professor

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236 Marshall Hall


Dr. Jill Weiss - Research

Reviewing applications for MS and PhD students for future research opportunities. Our lab has multiple projects in recreation studying hiker intent and preparedness, alpine stewardship, conservation networks, and perception of permits and reservation systems.

Dr. Jill Weiss, Assistant Professor, Environmental Studies & Graduate Program in Environmental Science,

SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry

Weiss Lab:

ASANE Project:


I have been working in the environmental field for over 20 years. I am an interdisciplinary scholar seeking opportunities to collaborate in social science and conservation research especially related to stewardship, recreationist behavior and management, communication, and resilience in bioregions. I apply social science, communication, and organizational management tools to research and support large-scale and cross-boundary conservation initiatives.

Areas of study: Recreation and Public Open Space Governance, Socio-Ecological Systems, Landscape Ecology, Environmental Education, Communication, Assessment, and Psychology.

My Linked In profile:



Current Research Activities:

Current projects:

  • Alpine Stewardship Activities In the Northeast (ASANE 2009-2021+)
  • ASANE Manuscripts in progress including: Longitudinal Study of Alpine Stewardship in the Northeast, US Reveals Interpretive Insights for Managing Visitor Use and Alpine Allies Bolster Conservation Power through Community of Practice
  • Managing the New Hiker: Characteristics, Perceptions, and Behavior Trends among Alpine Trail Users in the Northeast (an off shoot of ASANE, funded by USDA NIFA McIntire Stennis Program). Please contact me if want to know more about this program.
  • AMR Recreational User Intent and Perspectives (sponsored by the NYS DEC)
  • 2022 Catskill Research Fellowship for Masters Student Garrett Boland: Informal Trail Monitoring in the Catskills with the NYS DEC and the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies
  • Pilot "360-view" Trail use and ecology analysis before and after trail relocation. This is part of the Adirondack Ecological Scorecard Project led by Stacy McNulty and Natasha Karniski, ESF Adirondack Ecological Center.
  • Dugongs and Seadragons, a partnership with EFB student Karina Lang and Dr. Josh Drew. Measuring educational impacts of a Marine Conservation Podcast. Manuscript in progress.
  • Various grant applications are pending including a study of knowledge sharing among trail maintainers in the Northeast.



We've made improvements to our lab communications. We have a new website! check it out!

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Recent Publications and Upcoming Manuscripts

Recently Published

Weiss, Jill; Elliott, Jordan; and Sullivan, Deanna (2022) "Snapshot of Recreational Users in the Adirondacks 2020," Adirondack Journal of Environmental Studies: Vol. 25: No. 1, Article 5.

  • Available at:
  • This research was an in-kind partnership between the Adirondack Council, ESF, and the Adirondack Mountain Club at the height of the pandemic.
  • Co-authors Jordan Elliot (EB MPS) worked in my lab in 2021-22; Deanna Sullivan (ES MS) is currently in my lab and a graduate student in Environmental Studies.
  • Delaney Demro (GPES MS '21) and Weiss Lab members Gabriela Wemple (SRM MS), Breath Hand (GPES PhD), and Jonas Eaton (EEI BS) also contributed to this project. 
  • Great work everybody!

With a marked increase in recreation in popular wilderness areas and user motivations diversifying, management practices can no longer be reactionary and based on narratives and so-called anecdotal evidence. The High Peaks Wilderness Area of the Adirondacks, considered a hot spot for hiking, is faced with heavy use that threatens trail and ecosystem health. For managers to effectively protect fragile ecosystems and provide positive recreational experiences to users, a baseline of empirical data is needed. This pilot study starts that process by characterizing recreational users of the High Peaks, exploring their intent and preparation, and gaining their perspective on management actions that address capacity issues but also raise access concerns. The study surveyed 592 recreationists at 12 trailheads in the summer of 2020. There were fewer first-time visitors than expected, and most respondents engaged in preparation for their visit, accessing authoritative material. Almost all reported familiarity with Leave No Trace principles and about 75% sought a wilderness experience. Management actions that address capacity through controlling access (e.g. shuttles, closures, permits) received lukewarm support, and the participants were not as polarized as expected, some feeling unsure. These data are essential for understanding and establishing Limits of Acceptable Change, as well as providing criteria for management goals, not only for the High Peaks region but also for other parks experiencing similar issues.


Weiss, J. L., Pettingill, P.  Longitudinal Study of Alpine Stewardship in Northeast, USA, Reveals Insights into Interpretation for Conservation (in review)

Alpine stewardship, the active and passive management of recreational trail users has been in practice for decades at popular hiking tourism destinations in the Northeast United States. The past decade has seen a marked increase in hikers, possessing varied and sometimes new motivations, resulting in eroding trails and non-compliant behaviors such as improper human waste disposal and camping on patches of endangered alpine plants. Alpine stewards have a unique practice that is a blend of field education and interpretation. This study has been collecting data on this practice from ten stewardship programs since 2010. The research characterizes alpine stewardship and the philosophies that drive it, the community of practice they formed, and how these actions promote knowledge transfer and institutional memory across the system. Our findings reveal that stewardship program response to hiking trends amounts to a form of co-adaptive management that have implications for interpretation, conservation, and hiking tourism.


A Community of Practice Looks Back and Ahead: The Alpine Stewardship Activities in the Northeast Project (ASANE) at 10 Years.(Manuscript)


J. Weiss. (2018) Contributor in Moran, Baptiste & Smardon Revitalizing Urban Waterways: Streams of Environmental Justice; Chapter 6: Restoring Streams and Restoring Relationships. Earthscan/Routledge.

J. Weiss. (2016) Collaboration in Conservation Networks: Regional Conservation Partnerships in New England. Antioch University New England. Dissertation in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Environmental Studies. (link updated 1/13/21)

Courses, Etc.


EST 353 Behavior Change and the Environment; SUS 496 Sustainability and Behavior Change
EST 550 Environmental Impact Analysis
EST 604 Social Research Methods: Surveys
new course for 2021: EST 496- Environmental Programming Assessment

EST 245 Foundations of Environmental Communication
EST 493 Environmental Communication Workshop
EST 645 Mass Media and Environmental Affairs
EST 496-06 SU18 Environmental Outreach Techniques
EST 606 Environmental Risk Perception: Implications for Communication and Policy (prepped for SP18)

Relevant Courses taught at previous institutions:
        Global Environmental Change (Environmental Science: ecology, policy, energy, toxicology)
        Environments of Central New England (Federal and State Env Policy, Natural and social history; land use ethics)
        Environmental Communication and Education
        Environmental Education: Theory and Practice (Graduate)
        Urban Environmental Education
        Ecology of a Changing Planet (Introduction to Ecology)
        Principles of Sustainability
        Introduction to Ecosystem and Wildlife Conservation
        Landscape Ecology (Graduate)




PhD Environmental Studies, Antioch University New England (AUNE), 2009-2016. Interdisciplinary course work in conservation policy and landscape ecology, environmental philosophy and history, social science methods, and research reading in collaboration, communication, critical theory, systems theory, common pool resources and social network analysis. Dissertation: Collaboration in Conservation Networks: Regional Conservation Partnerships in New England.

Columbia University, Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability
Conservation Biology Certificate; Consortium for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC)
2008 – 2009 Coursework in Ecology, Conservation, and Policy. Departed program to begin PhD at AUNE.

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Cert., Applied Environmental Education Program Evaluation
2006 Non-matriculated certification.

MA Environmental Conservation Education, New York University, 2001-2003. Interdisciplinary program in environmental policy, environmental history and philosophy; environmental education and outreach; ecology and conservation. Thesis project: Harlem/Hudson: A Community Ecology Outreach and Programming Project with the New York City Soil and Water Conservation District, NYS DEC Hudson River Estuary Grants Program.

BFA Communications Design, Pratt Institute, 1992. Additional coursework in the humanities and educational psychology.

Current Graduate Advisees

Mackenzie CaseMackenzie Case

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Weiss
  • Area of Study: Environmental Science

Antonio KasperAntonio Kasper

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Hirsch and Weiss
  • Area of Study: Environmental Studies

Elysia NelsonElysia Nelson

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Weiss
  • Area of Study: Environmental Science

Joshua SerpeJoshua Serpe

  • Degree Sought: MPS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Weiss
  • Area of Study: Environmental Studies