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Preserving Our Living Rivers

Landowner Jim Taylor, The Nature Conservancy, and Bren students join forces to research Eastern Sierra water management

Eastern Sierra River with grass, mountains, and blue sky

A cornerstone of the MESM curriculum, Master’s Group Projects provide students with unparalleled experience performing professional-level work, and clients with specific recommendations for an environmental challenge they are facing. Additionally, Group Projects foster productive partnerships between the Bren School and businesses, government agencies, NGOs, and individuals, opening avenues for further engagement. 

Marina Lindsay

UC Santa Barbara Trustee, Jim Taylor, had an established relationship with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) developing conservation easements nearby Lake Tahoe. Recognizing the impending threats of climate change, residential development, and ongoing agriculture downstream to the area’s waterways, they realized a need for further research on possible water management solutions. Both entities had longtime partnerships with UC Santa Barbara, and approached the Bren School with their idea. Marina Lindsay (MESM ’19) picked it up, proposed the project to the Group Project committee and her fellow classmates, and it was accepted.

With funding support from Jim and his wife, Denise, three members of their Group Project got a jump-start working as summer interns for TNC on location. The Taylors’ generosity enabled them to pursue prestigious summer internship opportunities (an essential component of the MESM program’s professional emphasis) and forge invaluable connections with many Douglas County community members who stake their livelihoods on the watershed’s health.

“The impact of having donor funding has been astronomical in our research. The opportunity to bond with my teammates and Douglas County locals was invaluable.” - Marina Lindsay

In the fall, students delivered a sneak peek of their research findings at the Development team’s Annual Donor Recognition Reception, produced a short film on their project as a Comm Capstone Project, and presented their final work at the Master’s Group Projects Final Presentations in April. Their Group Project’s head start facilitated by key relationships between the Taylors, TNC, and Bren gave students critical opportunities to refine their work and communications skills. Multi-sector partnerships such as these not only propel effective conservation solutions, but also both offer powerful professional experiences for students and solidify fruitful relationships between the Bren School and others. 

Read about the Water Guardians' journey 

Want to get involved? Reach out to the Bren School for more information about partnership opportunities.

Lotus Vermeer

Assistant Dean of Partnerships & Development
(805) 893-3712

Beth Pitton-August

Director of Development
(805) 893-5047

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