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Class Notes 2011

Schedule of Events

FOR 692, Fall 2011



Assignments Due


(before registering for the class)

10 project ideas

Aug 29

Course Planning


Aug 31

Project Development; Time Accounting

3 project ideas (with clients)

Sept 5

(no class, Labor Day)


Sept 7

10-minute Background Presentations

Feedback for presenters

Sept 12

How to write a proposal

Example of a proposal

Sept 14

Research Skills: Information seeking

3 questions

Sep 19

Proposal review (mainly for Sam)

drafts or outlines of proposals

Sept 21

Bibliography due

20-30 references

Sept 26

Annotated Bibliography

~10 reviews of sources

Sept 28

First Drafts of Selected Proposals: Kate, Sam

Proposals, reviews

Oct 3

First Drafts: Corrie, Joanna, Tejal

Proposals, reviews

Oct 5

No Class

(Ruth at IES, HB)

Oct 10

Final drafts of early proposals; Tejal’s First Draft

Written proposals

Oct 12

Progress Reports

Progress Reports

Oct 17

John Turbeville, Resume and Interview

Your resume, cover letter?

Oct 19

No Class


Oct 24

Course Planning and Improvement

Anonymous feedback

Oct 26

 No class


Oct 31

Writing Skills

Samples from your projects

Nov 2

Progress Reports

Progress Reports

Nov 7

Resume and cover letter


Nov 9

Professional presentation


Nov 14

Professional communication


Nov 16

Reflective Listening (Ruth at EMEP)


Nov 21-23

(no class, Thanksgiving break)

Drafts reports are due 2 days before the presentation

Nov 28

Review draft final reports (Kate, Joanna)

Reports, reviews

Nov 30

Review draft final reports (Sam, Tejal)

Reports, reviews

Dec 5

Final presentations 2:15-5?

Feedback for presenters

Dec 7

No class


Dec 15

Project Reports due

Final Reports

Grading scheme

The majority of your grade will be based on your projects:  25% for oral presentations and 40% for written reports or other products.  The project proposals are 15% and the remaining 20% is for other assignments such as time and effort accounting, feedback for presenters, and preparing for skill sessions if needed. 

Late assignments will be discounted at the rate of 10%/day.  Assignments required for class participation will be worth 0% after the day we needed them.

Monday, August 29


Joanna: from Brazil, second semester, recreation (Diane Kuehn)

Kate: from Manoa (near Syracuse), approx third semester, habitat restoration, riparian (John Stella).  AmeriCorps in Seattle doing restoration for salmon.

Corrie: from Genesseo, undergrad at ESF, summer internship with DEC on emerald ash borer and Asian longhorn beetle outreach.   Interested in land trusts and fisheries (Malmsheimer).

Sam: from Westchester County, undergrad at SUNY New Paltz, second semester, one to go.  Conservation and NGO management.  Internship this summer for biomass thermal energy council (David Newman)

Tejal:  from New Jersey, undergrad in Environmental Studies at Seton Hall, policy focus.  Thinking about switching from MPS to MS, with a climate change project in India.

10 Project Ideas

Joanna:  Something with the Council of Park Friends.  Gordon Heisler and Diane Kuehn are members.

Kate:  Riparian restoration project with Cortland County SWCD.  Could involve local schools, good PR for the SWCD.  In the process of selecting a site.    They want guidance on what to plant for habitat restoration.

Corrie: Doesn’t have her favorites selected yet.

Sam:   The client is “Heating the Midwest” and the project is a document describe the benefits and consequences of increasing the amount of biomass for heat and energy in the Midwest region.

Tejal:  Two possible directions.  She interned with the NYC Transit, which is a ready client.           The other idea is a project in India planted for carbon sequestration.

Selection criteria:  Your client has to be available enough to allow your project to succeed.  You also want to make new contacts that could help you in your next job search.

Time sheet template

Lead a discussion of selected readings

Skill sessions

Course Planning

Time sheet template (try this by Wednesday)

Skill sessions:  Librarian (Corrie); Conflict Resolution (Tejal); Resume and Interview (Joanna)

Lead a discussion of selected readings (this was an idea for additional sessions)

Wednesday, August 31  Time sheets

Does anyone know a smart way to create the dates without typing each one?  If so, let us know.

Does Joanna count her hours from her summer internship, which was with the same client?  We weren’t sure, but we know that she should aim for something significant (about 100 hours) during the current semester.  She can think about how to report the data in her final report to her client.

Adding time:  Make sure it works for you!

Something funny happens when they get translated into Google docs.

Guidelines for Time Sheets

Time entries are in rows, with the most recent at the bottom.

Columns are for categories of tasks, grouped into more general categories.  Examples include: communications, background reading, field work, writing the proposal.  Overhead (not directly related to your project) would include class work like reviewing each other’s proposals or preparing your background presentation.

Show gridlines (if printed), freeze header panes, color optional (especially if printed).

The week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday.

Add a table with weekly project totals.

Time sheets will be due on Monday for the preceding week.


What belongs in the presentation?  For your final presentation, your audience is the client (and the class).  For your introductory presentation, it’s just us.

Three Project Ideas

Joanna has been in communication with the Park Manager at Clark Reservation and learning important things that are going to affect her development of a project idea.

Kate will be going tomorrow to look at potential sites.  She will do the top two ideas for sure and the third is possible.  For that third aspect, Ryan Cunningham might be helpful.  We advised her against putting it in her proposal if she’s not sure she’ll have time for it.

Corrie is waiting, but maybe it’s worth moving on her first choice if she’s pretty sure they’ll say yes.

 Sam knows what his project will be and he’s ready to write his proposal.  We’ll review it on Sept 12!

Sept 7:  Introductory Presentations 

Sept 12: What’s in a Proposal?

We looked at examples of proposals to see which elements might be relevant to your proposals.  There are some differences.  You're lucky, you have a good chance of your proposals being accepted!  The funding rate at NSF is about 15%.

Parts of a proposal

Title and Cover Page


            Rationale and Significance:  What's important about your problem.


Materials and Methods

            Site description (if relevant)


            Schedule or Timetable


            Anticipated problems and likely solutions



Sections we saw that you probably don't need

Table of Contents

Suggestion for focusing your Intro (and directing your bibliographic search):  Write your Objectives first.  What needs to be in your Introduction to lead the reader to your Objectives?  Ask the questions that your project will answer. 

The Introduction should start with the broadest description of the problem, and funnel us into your specific project.

Bibliography assignments

By tomorrow at 2:15, you should have tried some searches.  Send Corrie your questions for the session on Wednesday.

By Wednesday, tell us:  Where did you look, what search terms did you try, what worked and what didn't?

20-30 references (we don't expect that all will be useful).  We changed this date to get Sam moving on his proposal (he forgot that we were going to review it today).

For the following Monday, Annotated bibliography:  For the references that you think will help you with your proposal, tell us what you're going to be able to use.

September 19: Proposals

By Monday, be prepared to tell us where you stand so we can make a plan about the proposal schedule.  Most of you should bring outlines of what you think will be in your proposal.  Sam will have his first draft ready for discussion.

Feedback on Presentations

I brought this to class but forgot to hand them out!  Please help me remember next Monday.  I checked to see whether you all have mailboxes down the hall in Bray, and I think you don't.  Maybe I'll ask about getting them updated.

Draft Proposals

Reviewers:  Corrie reviews Joanna, Joanna reviews Corrie.  Tejal reviews Kate reviews Sam reviews Tejal.

Oct 24: Mid-Semester Feedback for Improvement

Type your answers to the following questions and print them out.  On Monday, we will pass them around in class and your feedback will be read anonymously by another student.  You can write them by hand as long as we can read your handwriting.

  1.  Below is a list of the activities in the course so far.  Please indicate which you found most useful, somewhat useful, or not useful.  Give specific suggestions for improvement if you have any.
  2.  Assignments

Ten project ideas:  Most useful, important to get started in advance.  Helps to get focused before the semester begins.  Need to identify a client (e.g. potential employers).  Focus them on what you want to have in your portfolio.  How to make them feasible for the class.  In the future, we’ll have your examples.

Introductions (presentations):  Good for learning about fellow classmates early, but too early for feedback on presentation style.  Introduced the grading scheme.  Not useful.  Fun.  Somewhat useful.  Practicing makes us better.

Three project ideas:  Useful.  No problem.  Most useful.  Should have been there by mid-August.  Most useful.

Consider introducing Refworks before the Bibliography assignments.

Bibliography (initial search): Useful.  Good, should have been earlier.  Somewhat useful.  Long list, some of which were useful.  Somewhat useful.  Gets us started. 

Annotated bibliography: Useful.   Most useful.  Somewhat useful.  Gets us organized.

Draft proposal: Most useful. Late but sound process.  Useful.  Good to revise.  Most useful.  Scope the project.

Reviews of draft proposals:  Most useful, useful feedback. Helpful to get feedback from all, drawn out.  Useful.  Critical but helpful.  Most useful.  Reviewing each other’s drafts.  Test of audience comprehension.  People point out things that we missed.

Revised (final) proposal:  Should have been faster.  Useful.  Good to have a chance to revise.  Most useful.  Improved product.  Most useful.

  1.  Skill sessions

How to write a proposal:  Useful.  Sample proposals were not all relevant.  Most useful.  Very helpful.

Research Skills: Information seeking (Jo Anne Ellis:  Useful.  Jo Anne was great.  Could have done without the urban legends.  Most useful.  Somewhat useful, some new stuff, including RefWorks.  Helped with bibliography.

Resume and Interview (John Turbeville):  Useful.  Waste of time, vague.  Resume was good.  Somewhat useful.  Most useful.  Somewhat depressing.  What about the networking thing.  Favorite class! 

Tell him that we want web sites for job listings.  Steps for applying to jobs.  Timeline would be helpful.  Send questions ahead of time, like we did for Jo Anne.  He didn’t realize we were graduate students.

  1. Future activities:  We won't cancel the CRC session, but we could add more sessions with them or in other areas that you have interest.  Please indicate which topics interest you of those we've had in the past, or suggest new topics. 
  2.  Skill Sessions

Reflective Listening (Conflict Resolution Center)

Interest-based problem solving (Conflict Resolution Center):  1

Writing skills (Ruth Yanai):  3

Professional Communications (Jim Hassett): 5  networking Sam (Jim Hassett), Joanna (find out who does communications in ES—could be a writing opportunity): next, Parker. 

Presentations (Benette Whitmore):  3 Kate (McGrath), followed by Whitmore, Joanna (Folta)

Resume and Cover Letter (class): 3.5

Are there other topics you would like us to organize for a class session?

Time management:

Grant writing:


  1.  Assignments

We will look over the calendar for the class.  We have one week devoted to drafts of final reports and another for final presentations.  In the past, we exchanged reviews of draft reports.  The final report will be due on the day scheduled for the Final Exam for this class period.  

Do you have suggestions to improve any of the following?

Draft Reports: 

Reviews of Draft Reports: 

Final Presentations: 

Final Reports:

  1.  Other

It would be best to have the projects ready to go before classes start.  Communicating with clients in advance would help take the pressure off. 


Good tone, helpful students.

Oct 31, Writing

Inventory of Student Interest


  1. correct sentence structure
  2. how to communicate ideas clearly 
  3. when to use/and not use the first person speech 

Sam: I am interested in how to write from an outline and how to organize a really long paper (like mine). I have been writing sections, but I am a little intimidated by the length. This paper will be twice as long as the longest paper I have written. I am fairly confident in the "micro" approach to writing - such as sentence structure and grammer. I am more concerned with the "macro" elements to writing - such as designing the structure of the document as a whole.

Tejal: organization, including section divisions.

Joanna: English

Kate: Outline writing

Smith and Brown

Paragraph breaks are good.  Sentences are shorter.  Sentences are more direct and to the point.

Nov 2: Project Reports

Kate:  Yesterday was the big day.  She had to leave here at 6:45.  The BOCES teacher brought two groups of kids:12 in the morning, 2 (of 3) in the afternoon.  It went faster than expected.  Kate had to do some quality control on the planting.  The willow planting is tough because you pound in rebar to make a hole for the willow cutting to go in.  They planted 500 willow stakes and about 60 potted plants.  They watered all the plants.  It was hard to predict where the stream would be; the farmer will be contacting the contractor about the remaining work.  If it happens in time, Kate will include this in her final project report.

Kate’s other idea was to write a guide for riparian restoration.  Now she wonders whether this will help them, when they don’t have the budget to select plants; they’ll be lucky to plant what they can get for free.  They could use advice about how to plant, using rain barrels, how to evaluate the success of projects.  (Ruth can connect Kate to Ryan Cunningham, who did a related project last year.) 

Corrie:  Done in the woods.   She is working on 9 maps, which is more than she was hoping for.  She’s having trouble with two cases where her trails cross between USGS quads.  (There’s a way to merge them in the GIS software.)  She will schedule a meeting with her clients when she has everything done.  Her other product is a section on recreational opportunities for the Tug Hill Working Lands.  There’s not a lot of published information that’s specific to the region.  The current publication has a list of references but doesn’t cite them.  Corrie will cite her references and they can strip them out if they want to.

Sam has a more complete outline than before.  He has found about 20 additional sources since he did the bibliography exercise.  He has a list of people to interview. 
Challenges:  Prediction how land values of timberland will change if waste products have value.  (John Wagner?  SSSA Annual Meeting, Symposium on bioenergy  (Forest Soils group, S-7).  Look at abstracts, and listen to the talks if they seem relevant.)

Joanna:  The grant proposal was submitted on October 31, on line.  Joanna’s contribution was to describe the project, the benefits, and citations to related planning documents (of hundreds of pages).  She finished her part two days early (two days after she sent it to Diane, but Diane forgot to send her document back—causing her to miss the Halloween parties). 

Grant-writing is a good experience to list on your resume!

Now she will start the brochure.  She will be using the software on 30-day free trial.

Tejal:  She has maps with property boundaries, which she overlays on the satellite imagery (present day).  She needs the 1989 imagery.  She has six administrative units (townships or villages) to work with.
She will be talking to her clients and maybe meeting with Amy in Auburn.

Job Search:

Nov 9 Presentation Skills

What makes a good PowerPoint presentation?

Tips on delivery

How not to shake or twitch or say “um”?

Advice on slides:

If you put up a lot of text, you will lose your audience while they are reading.

People want to see things written down that they want to remember.

Write the important points and elaborate on the details.

If you don’t want people reading ahead, you can animate the slides.

Don’t overdo the transitions.


How much to walk around?  If you have notes on your computer, you want to see them.

Maintain contact with your audience.

Rather than twitch, keep one coin in your pocket (not that will make noise).

Nov 14

Project Reports

Sam thinks he’s about 1/3 done.  He feels confident that it’s going to be okay.  Nothing bad has happened so far; he has found what he was looking for.

Joanna: The Council of Park Friends meets monthly.  Last week they met.  The grant was submitted by the deadline (just barely).  There will be a decision at about the new year. 

Question:  Should Joanna have the final proposal in her portfolio, or the parts that she contributed?

For the brochure: Diane gave a tutorial on the software (FreeHand) and Joanna is learning to use it and selecting images.

Kate: The planting is done, she has great pictures.  She will likely finish the maintenance plan in less than her projected 100 hours.

Tejal has the cadastral maps, showing the property boundaries, which needs to be matched up to the cover maps. The client was supposed to provide the satellite imagery, but they don’t seem to have it.  Tejal has been trying to use coordinates and place names, but it’s not working. Amy in Auburn has done it, but she’s not available (at a conference).

Draft Reports

Kate and Joanna will distribute their draft reports to Tejal and Corrie by Saturday Nov 26.  That way, we have the drafts reviewed in time for the discussion.

Sam and Tejal will distribute their draft reports on Monday for review by Wednesday.

Final Presentations

Plan on speaking for only 10-15 minutes, so we have time to ask you questions and give written feedback.