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Zakiya Leggett

Publications

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Grants

Date: 04/01/20 - 3/31/25
Amount: $246,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA)

The US South has 245 million acres of forestland covering 46% of total land use. This region is the largest wood basket in the world where 60% of US timber derives largely from managed softwood plantations and hardwood forests. These forest systems are major economic engines to rural economies. However, nationwide, forest resources has the lowest minority representation within Food, Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences and even lower representation in the US South. Diversity enrollment and matriculation have failed due to poor intersections of academic support, peer community support, mentoring, leadership development, and “readiness” work skills. This NNF program builds on a pilot program to pipeline minority undergraduates from HBCUs to successful graduate training in forest resources at NC State University (NCSU). The proposed program recruits HBCU undergraduates and offers pre-admission mentoring and professional development for a Master’s of Forestry at NCSU. Our NNF program will recruit and retain four, high-caliber minority forestry graduate students and prepare them for matriculation and professional success through NNF-specific programmatic, curricular, and industry experiences in forest resources. Key NNF program elements are a minority Mentoring/Leadership Community (MLC), certified forest curriculum, and industry internships in the automation, economics, biotechnology, and science communication of forest resources. The NNF cohort will mentor minority undergraduates, disseminate their experiences, network with professionals, and participate in annual NNF program performance assessment to support pipeline sustainability. This project supports USDA’s goal to develop a diverse and highly-skilled workforce for employment shortages in forest resources.

Date: 12/01/19 - 9/30/23
Amount: $310,544.00
Funding Agencies: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Although gender diversity in the natural resources profession has increased dramatically in the past twenty-five years, the field continues to lack adequate racial and ethnic diversity. We believe that diversification of the conservation workforce is essential for the long-term success of conservation science in our country. Diversification will bring important ideas and perspectives to natural resources decision-making that are currently absent. Moreover, in an increasingly diverse society, disciplines that attract a narrow ethnic and racial slice of the population are unlikely to be adequately valued by society. Given our changing demographics and the environmental challenges we face, it is important to foster expertise in conservation science and exposure to the conservation ethic across the breadth of society. A key bottleneck in efforts to diversify the conservation science workforce is recruitment and graduation of undergraduates. To address this issue, we propose to establish a national partnership to increase enrollment and graduation of students from under-represented groups in conservation science programs and to provide those students with the necessary training, research and workforce experiences, social and academic support, and mentorship to transition to successful leadership positions in the field. A secondary objective will be to document and disseminate our diversity recruitment model and success with the ultimate goal of expanding diversity recruitment efforts at undergraduate institutions across the US. Program objective: To develop long-term, sustainable educational programming to increase enrollment and retention of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in conservation science undergraduate degree programs, and to create a pathway for employment in key positions in the conservation profession.

Date: 09/01/20 - 8/31/23
Amount: $32,479.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

The Friday Institute Research and Evaluation Team will provide evaluation services for a proposed project entitled, The Undergraduate Network for Increasing Diversity of Ecologists (UNIDE) project. This research coordination network project aims to build a sustainable and interdisciplinary network of ecologists, educators and social scientists to address the need to address how cultural and social barriers impact human diversity in ecology and environmental disciplines (EE). The research network coordination project seeks to build cultural competence into ecology and environmental biology education.

Date: 10/01/20 - 5/31/23
Amount: $37,337.00
Funding Agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF)

This IUSE:EHR-ICT proposal seeks to build the capacity for establishing citizen science communities that engage students in meaningful learning experiences in and around the Nation’s largest Historically Black College or University (HBCU). Citizen Science refers to efforts to involve volunteers from across different sectors of society, stakeholder groups, and communities in the scientific process. North Carolina State University (NCSU) has been a leader in efforts to bring Citizen Science into university classrooms through Active Learning (Bonwell & Eison, 1991) pedagogies. As collaborators on this proposed project their experience and expertise will be leveraged in capacity building efforts at North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T SU) focused in four key areas: training, relationship & awareness building, information technology infrastructure, and needs assessment for scaling-up the project. Initial capacity building efforts within NC A&T SU will be centered in the Sociology and Psychology Programs within the College of Health and Human Sciences (CHSS) and extend outward through partnerships with other programs in the CHHS, other Colleges and Divisions and student organizations within the University, and the broader East Greensboro, NC community. Among other things, funds from the grant will support the training of members of the NC A&T SU research team in the use of citizen science IT platforms and active learning pedagogies. These faculty members will in turn become ambassadors who will host workshops and events that build the capacity of additional faculty collaborators to integrate citizen science-based active learning approaches into their courses. Evaluation of the capacity building efforts will be assessed via rates of participation in capacity building events, implementation of these approaches into university classrooms, and formative evaluations using focus group and surveys.

Date: 09/24/21 - 12/31/22
Amount: $50,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Forest Service

This program aims to attract, recruit, retain, and successfully graduate highly-skilled, career-ready candidates to fill USDA Forest Service critical job series within the Southern Research Station (SRS), the Forest Service nation-wide, and/or complementary supporting agencies and industries. Researchers and the SRS will help ensure the development of these skills and their utmost importance to the agency by serving on each of the student’s graduate research committees. This role is important as it helps to set research direction, provides mentorship and relationship-building with the students and faculty involved. Where possible, faculty from the students’ former HBCU/MSI institution will also be included as a part of the research guidance committee. Students will also meet with SRS leadership for further relationship development and exposure to the USDA Forest Service as an employer of choice.

Date: 09/18/19 - 9/30/21
Amount: $80,000.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Black walnut forestry within the Central Hardwoods Region (CHR) has progressed primarily based on studies of trial and error among plantations. Although black walnut wood has been used for everything from gunstocks in the Revolutionary War to the finely crafted furniture of today, gaps exist in our knowledge base regarding the most efficient methods of growing this prized wood. Increased temperatures, insect pests, and numerous issues regarding planting site suitability have hindered our ability to consistently produce the most desirable nuts, lumber, and veneer. While considerable information regarding walnut growth remains anecdotal, researchers at the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC) have collected data regarding growth and performance of walnut families placed into both plantations and seed orchards. Remiss in those data were comprehensive soil studies to evaluate whether nutrient accumulations or other soil characteristics assisted with the observed superior growth of certain trees included in the study. As soils are composed of mixtures of clay, organic matter, sand, and silt, combinations of these materials can lead to a pH-balanced nutrient-rich environment across or in pockets of a site. Superior trees planted in shallow, nutrient-poor soils likely demonstrate poor growth and may be removed from a breeding program unwittingly. We propose to: (1) Test the framework of the Wallace & Young (NRCS) black walnut suitability index at three black walnut planting sites, (2) Intensively sample soils at three black walnut and three Northern red oak sites, and (3) Investigate and analyze soil data in conjunction with planted black walnut family data to look for trends and (4) Evaluate the presence and variety of soil microbial communities at the various sites. Information gained from this proposal can increase planting success, help inform thinning decisions, and will likely lead to greater economic values gained from timber stands and seed orchards.

Date: 02/02/18 - 12/31/20
Amount: $131,284.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Forests and water are inextricably linked, and people are dependent on forested lands to provide clean, reliable water supplies for drinking and to support local economies. As more than 90% of the forested land in the South is privately owned, water supplies in the region are at risk of degradation from continued conversion of forests to other land uses to support a growing population. Given the variety of threats to surface water, it will be increasingly advantageous for forest managers to highlight the importance of sound forest management practices in the interest of maintaining clean and abundant water supplies to drinking water intakes in the region. The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station has worked to quantify the dependence of communities and populations on water originating on forested lands in 13 southern states. The goal of this proposed work is to generate public information materials, databases and map products that will quantify water supply originating from State and Private Forests lands and the populations served in the South.

Date: 10/01/15 - 9/30/20
Amount: $266,623.00
Funding Agencies: Doris Duke Charitable Foundation

Although gender diversity in the natural resources profession has increased dramatically in the past twenty-five years, the field continues to lack adequate racial and ethnic diversity. We believe that diversification of the conservation workforce is essential for the long-term success of conservation science in our country. Diversification will bring important ideas and perspectives to natural resources decision-making that are currently absent. Moreover, in an increasingly diverse society, disciplines that attract a narrow ethnic and racial slice of the population are unlikely to be adequately valued by society. Given our changing demographics and the environmental challenges we face, it is important to foster expertise in conservation science and exposure to the conservation ethic across the breadth of society. A key bottleneck in efforts to diversify the conservation science workforce is recruitment and graduation of undergraduates. To address this issue, we propose to establish a national partnership to increase enrollment and graduation of students from under-represented groups in conservation science programs and to provide those students with the necessary training, research and workforce experiences, social and academic support, and mentorship to transition to successful leadership positions in the field. A secondary objective will be to document and disseminate our diversity recruitment model and success with the ultimate goal of expanding diversity recruitment efforts at undergraduate institutions across the US. Program objective: To develop long-term, sustainable educational programming to increase enrollment and retention of students from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in conservation science undergraduate degree programs, and to create a pathway for employment in key positions in the conservation profession.


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