March 30, 2021


About Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative at Yale School of the Environment

The Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative (UHPSI) is focused on stewardship and conservation of the American West. At its core, UHPSI engages in teaching, research, and outreach, primarily through mentoring students on applied research and management projects with western partners.

Students develop knowledge and skills related to land management and conservation on private and public lands of the West. UHPSI integrates activities with the strategic plan of the Yale School of the Environment (YSE), fostering knowledge and leadership for a sustainable future. We accomplish these goals both at Yale’s campus and in the West through three core aspects: Experiential Learning, Applied Research, and Collaboration.


I have read many definitions of what is a conservationist, …but I suspect that the best one is written not with a pen, but with an axe. ~Aldo Leopold



Experiential Learning

Boots-on-the-ground experiences provide students with a chance to develop the skills needed to be leaders in western conservation. UHPSI offers several opportunities year-round for students and partners to engage with one another. These include internships with western partners, an applied field practicum in collaborative decision-making, hands-on-skill builder in prescribed fire, and support for students pursuing their own conservation creations and research across the West.


Applied Research

While our research and management projects span the fields of ecology, economics, sociology, religion, and policy, all our work supports stewardship of the lands, water, and people throughout the American West. Our team of students, staff, and faculty study questions pertinent to western conservation to support the development of innovative solutions to complex issues.  Current research and fellowships includes topics such as solar feasibility for a remote preserve, forest regeneration response post-fire, impacts of recreation on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, climate vulnerability in the Crown of the Continent, and wildlife-friendly ranching strategies.  



From the halls of YSE to the Rockies mountains and High Plains, we strive to broaden and strengthen western land management through collaborative research that pairs the knowledge of local practitioners with interdisciplinary, applied science, and systems thinking. Our network of collaborators spans ranchers, researchers, non-profit organizations, academics, and federal agencies. Our network of collaborators allows students to connect with a diversity of sectors and support their impactful work. We are always eager to explore opportunities and look forward to connecting with new partners. Please contact Michelle Downey to connect.