Certificate Focus

Community-Based Environmental Management (CBEM) involves communities becoming empowered to manage their own environment in ways that are economically viable, socially just and environmentally sustainable. The CBEM Certificate Program provides students with the theory and methods that will allow them to identify the potential problems and pitfalls commonly associated with CBEM initiatives, both domestically and internationally, along with the tools necessary to create and manage their own projects.


The Certificate Program exposes students to a wide variety of approaches to promoting CBEM, including:

  • Integrated conservation and development (ICDP) initiatives
  • Community-based natural resource management
  • Environmental justice campaigns
  • Participatory urban environmental planning and management
  • Community-private partnerships for sustainable development

Your Future

At the completion of the certificate program, students will have demonstrated proficiency in:

  • The conceptual and theoretical foundations of CBEM
  • Strategies for designing and implementing CBEM programs that account for the complexity and variability of social and natural system
  • Methods to assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual CBEM initiatives and tools and skills to improve their efficacy.

Certificate recipients will be competitive for domestic and international positions in community-based natural resource management, community development, city and regional planning, environmental justice, corporate social responsibility, and environmental education and communication in the non-profit, private for-profit and public sectors.



Students wishing to earn a certificate in Community-Based Environmental Management will be required to complete a total of 12 credits of core and advanced courses.

Course Requirements

It is expected that most or all certificate components can be used to fulfill other graduate degree requirements (e.g., program–specific course requirements or other electives).

  • Fundamentals Course – Required (3 credits)
    • ENV 755 Community-Based Environmental Management – Shapiro-Garza (Fall)
  • Practicum – Required (3 credits)
    • ENV 795 Practicum in Community-Based Environmental Management – Shapiro-Garza (Spring)
  • Theory and Methods Courses (3 credits)
    • ENV 556: Environmental Conflict Resolution – Albright (Spring)
    • ENV 557: Social Science Surveys for Environmental Management (Spring)
    • ENV 579S: Collective Action, Environment, and Development – Pfaff-Talikoff (Fall)
    • ENV 658/A: Applied Qualitative Research Methods – Clark (Spring)
    • ENV 705/A: Social Impact Analysis – Murray, Marine Lab (Spring)
    • ENV 790: Environmental Justice– White-Williamson (Spring)
    • ENV 754/A: Research Design for Environmental Social Sciences – Campbell, Marine Lab
    • ENV 832: Environmental Decision Analysis – Albright (Spring)
    • ENV 850: Program Evaluations of Environmental Policies – Bennear (Occasionally)
    • ENV 860S/A: Political Ecology – Campbell, Marine Lab (Fall)
    • ENV 887/A: Theory and Methods for Policy Analysis of the Commons – Basurto, Marine Lab (Fall)
    • PUBPOL 790: Monitoring and Evaluation – Boehmer
    • PUBPOL 790: Impact Evaluation for Development – Bhattacharya
    • XTIANETH 813: Listen, Organize, Act – Taylor
  • Application Courses (3 credits)
    • ENV 504A: Marine Protected Areas – Gill, Marine Lab (Spring)
    • EENV: 506 Environmental Justice: Theory and Practice for Environmental Scientists and Policy Professionals 
    • ENV 528SA: Community-Based Marine Conservation in the Gulf of California Basurto, Marine Lab (Spring)
    • ENV 538: Global Environmental Health and Economics – Pattanayak (Fall)
    • ENV 551DA: International Conservation and Development – Campbell, Marine Lab (Spring)
    • ENV 571A: Sojourn in Singapore: Urban Tropical Ecology – Rittschof, Marine Lab (Spring) 
    • ENV 632: Environmental Education and Interpretation – Cagle
    • ENV 684: Politics of the Urbanized Environment – Mullin (Occasionally)
    • ENV 785/A: Conservation Service Learning – DeMattia , Marine Lab (Fall) 
    • ENV 869: Environmental Law and Policy Clinic – Longest/Nowlin (Fall/Spring)
    • ENV 705A Social Impact Analysis - Murray, Marine Lab (Spring)
    • ENV 975: Community-Based Environmental Management in Mexico – Shapiro-Garza (Spring)
    • PARISH 792: Cultivating Thriving Communities - Yates
    • PUBPOL 723: Poverty Reduction and the International Financial Institutions – Pomerantz
    • PUBPOL 707: Capacity Development – Webb 
    • PUBPOL 790: Project Management for International Development – Webb

Substitution of Coursework

Students may be allowed to substitute courses from other Duke departments or from UNC or NC State for the Theory and Methods or Applications requirements of the certificate program. Documentation of course content and a written justification of how the substitution will enhance the student’s educational experience must be submitted for approval to the certificate Director BEFORE the course is taken to count toward completion.

The following are some of the many departments and schools that offer coursework relevant to CBEM:

Duke University

North Carolina State University

University North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Related Master’s Project

The student’s Master’s Project should include a focus on community-based environmental management and contain some significant application of the theories and skills learned from certificate coursework. What constitutes a sufficient focus on CBEM is decided in conversation with the certificate Director.


Student-Partner Projects

One of the primary goals of the CBEM Certificate program is to support the work of community-based organizations throughout North Carolina. As part of the spring semester capstone course, our students complete in-depth projects that are designed and completed in collaboration with these organizations.

Types of Projects

Student-partner projects provide an opportunity for our students to apply the theory they have learned about working with communities to real world cases while supporting the programs and missions of community-based organizations throughout the state. The types of projects our students complete include:

Participatory Planning

Collaboratively develop the tools and framework (e.g. focus groups, surveys, asset mapping, etc.) to include the community your organization works with in an assessment of their own perceptions of the causes and consequences of environmental and social issues affecting them and the action steps needed to address them.

Participatory Program Evaluation

Collaboratively develop the tools and framework to evaluate one of your organization’s programs or projects in a way that openly includes your staff and members of the community you serve.

Participatory Environmental Monitoring Project

Collaboratively develop the tools and framework for the community you work with to be able to monitor and report on an environmental or environmental health issue that is affecting them.

Outreach and Social Marketing Campaign

Collaboratively develop a campaign to inform the community you work with about an environmental or environmental health issue and do so in a way that aims to change the behaviors that are at the root of the problem.

Political Action Campaign

Collaboratively research and develop strategies to use political and legal channels to address an environmental or environmental health issue in the community your organization works with.

Partner Organizations

Our CBEM Certificate students have partnered with community-based organizations throughout North Carolina to complete projects that fulfill crucial organizational needs. These organizations are true partners, providing our students with intensive, grounded training in engaging communities in the management of their own environments.

  • Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise
  • Briggs Avenue Community Garden
  • Cape Fear River Watch
  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
  • Center for Environmental Farming Systems
  • City of Durham’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development
  • Clean Energy Durham
  • Clean Water For North Carolina
  • Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina
  • Conservation Trust of NC and the African American Heritage Commission (NC Arts Council)
  • Counter Culture Coffee
  • Duke Campus Farm
  • Duke Forest
  • Durham Economic Resource Center (DERC)
  • Durham Farmers’ Market
  • Eartheal
  • East Carolina Community Development Inc
  • Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
  • Eno River Association
  • Environment North Carolina
  • Friends of Bolin Creek
  • Green Peace North Carolina
  • Interfaith Food Shuttle
  • Keep Durham Beautiful
  • Natural Environmental Ecological Management (NEEM)
  • NC Catch
  • North Carolina Coastal Federation
  • North Carolina Community Garden Partners
  • North Carolina Indian Economic Development Initiative
  • North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light
  • Resourceful Communities Program
  • Roanoke River Partners
  • Saltwater Connections
  • Sandhill Area Land Trust
  • Seeds
  • The Conservation Trust for North Carolina and North Carolina Coastal Land Trust
  • Town of Cary Sustainability Program
  • Toxic Free NC
  • Transplanting Traditions
  • Trees NC
  • Triangle Land Conservancy
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments
  • WakeUp Wake County
  • Walking Fish
  • Working Landscapes

If your organization would be interested in partnering with our students, submit a Community Partner Project Application.

2017 Project Summaries

Laura Bader — Durham Farmers’ Market

The Durham Farmers’ Market in downtown Durham, North Carolina is an organization devoted to connecting the city’s citizens to local and healthy food, providing a space for community and kinship amongst visitors. This semester-long project investigated the barriers the diverse Durham community faces in inclusion in the Market through surveys, community outreach/input, and cross-organizational studies. Further, this study sought methods in reducing such barriers and for better-inclusion of the true diversity of the Durham community, with the long-term goal of making all residents of Durham feel welcome to this space.

Yan Cheng — Duke Campus Farm

Established in 2010, the Duke Campus Farm (DCF) provides a one-acre space offering programs, services as well as events for education, connections and opportunities for engaging in the community. To help better develop in the future, DCF initiated its five-year strategic plan in 2014. Currently in the plan’s third year, DCF would like to examine their performance and improvements that have been made. As the project partner, I assisted in conducting qualitative analysis from aspects of academic alliance, community engagement, production outcomes and staff roles. The general findings suggest that they have achieved impressive progress since the 2014 year. Base on the comparative analysis of the Yale Sustainable Food Program, I provided some recommendations for reference.

Olivia Eskew — Interfaith Food Shuttle

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, IFFS, has a mission to “pioneer innovative, transformative solutions designed to end hunger in our community.” The Urban Youth Agriculture Program values the utilization of a participatory program evaluation to allow IFFS to develop concrete monitoring tools for school garden programming in East Durham, and potentially other elementary schools in the Triangle. The initial program evaluation will be at Eastway Elementary School for the spring of 2017 in which the staff and partner teachers have an intricate relationship with the current Urban Agriculture Youth programming. Efforts to expand the program to other elementary schools in East Durham will be negotiated with relevant stakeholders beginning the summer of 2017 based on immediate and long-term goals. Theory of change logic models are supported by qualitative and quantitative monitoring techniques, including focus groups, surveys, and interviews. The primary audience for program monitoring and evaluation are students, teachers, and administration. The data collected will be used through this participatory evaluation approach to inform program decision-makers. The final deliverable for the project will be a digital program evaluation in the form of a booklet, detailing evaluation tools for youth programming. I will not be conducting the surveys and interviews due to the scope and timeline of this project. The target long-term goal is to have the portfolio of evaluation tools to be implemented in future community partner schools in the Durham and greater Triangle area.

Kathryn Gaasch — NC Field

NC FIELD is a small, grassroots nonprofit organization that works with migrant farmworkers and farmworker youth in eastern North Carolina. Among several other programs, NC FIELD developed a youth group called Poder Juvenil Campesinos (PJC) that is comprised of farmworker youth from ages 12-20 who work to combat child labor in North Carolina and advocate for farmworker rights. For the purposes of this project, I worked with various stakeholders including NC FIELD staff, board members, and youth to develop a Theory of Change (TOC) map for PJC. The participatory process helped stakeholders collectively identify the long-term goal of the youth program as well as define the necessary steps and interventions to reach that goal. Some of the most poignant findings that resulted from this exercise were key assumptions that needed to be addressed to build a sustainable foundation for PJC to succeed. Emphasis was placed primarily on the need for transportation resources and the need for outreach to other migrant youth who may not be aware that the program exists. From this participatory process, I was able to develop a program evaluation framework that can be used to gauge program success. The framework consists of initial evaluation (upon beginning the program), monitoring throughout program participation, exit evaluation, and a follow-up evaluation once participants have left the program completely. Both the TOC and program evaluation can be used as tools for communicating successes and resource needs back to current funders and potential funders. Moving forward, the TOC and program evaluation should serve as a living document that evolves with the program.

Amber Halsted — Community Food Strategies, CEFS: Political Action Campaign

Community Food Strategies works to strengthen local food economies across North Carolina through the empowerment of Food Councils. These food councils are multi-sector coalitions that address food systems issues within their community. My role with Community Food Strategies this semester was to strengthen their portfolio of policy briefs that they use to inspire Food Councils to seek political change. I worked to bolster an existing policy brief on a present-use value trust fund by finding issue specific data for interested counties. This allowed these counties to make a more informed decision about the creation of a similar trust. It also offered counties that were not included in the study a template of useful information to search for within their county. With only four counties examined, there is not enough information to locate regional trends in present use value, however there was a clear state wide trend in the present use procedure. Counties have the authority to increase the requirements for present-use classification, however no county that I researched made the requirements any stricter then state level rules. CSA reimbursement plans can help supply food insecure families with healthy fruits and vegetables while supporting the local food economy. My idea for an addition to the Community Food Strategies’ political action portfolio was policy changes that would allow county employees to receive CSA reimbursements as part of their health insurance wellness rebates. For this draft, I researched four different CSA program and developed a frame work for food councils to help get a similar program started in their area. Finally, I researched the legal framework around open-air markets. Currently, permanent, open-air markets are not legal in non-coastal counties. I researched why this is the case and what steps would need to be taken to change this. I also researched who this regulation would benefit and what benefits would come from the change.

Kelsey Johnson-Sapp — Upper Plain Council of Governments

My objective for this semester was to compose a baseline of community knowledge of brownfields and their impact on the city of Rocky Mount. This analysis was conducted concurrently with designing a dissemination tool to advertise a brownfields educational workshop, specifically concerning the development of the Monk to Mill Trail. In adopting Dr. Gabriel Cumming’s Community Voice Method, I created a video compilation of nine interviews I conducted amongst developers, stakeholders, and community leaders throughout the city on the recommendation of Kellianne Davis, the Administrator for Community Development in Rocky Mount. As a specific request by my primary client Ron Townley, I also created a brochure to provide a physical notated reference for community members for the Monk to Mill Trail greening plans and brownfield information. My findings have suggested little knowledge or awareness of brownfields in my target community, and the impact of my deliverables has yet to be tested until the workshop is underway. However, judging by the initial reaction of the stakeholders involved in the video’s creation, I am anticipating the product to be well-received by the greater community be utilized for future grant proposals, education, and reflection for Rocky Mount’s progress.

Jackie McGarry — North Carolina Coastal Federation

This report summarizes the findings of a focus group conducted on behalf of the North Carolina Coastal Federation for the Practicum in Community Based Environmental Management at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. The focus group was used to assess homeowner perceptions of living shorelines and to make recommendations to the North Carolina Coastal Federation on outreach strategies for their Living Shorelines Academy website. The findings and recommendations are presented as a SWOT Analysis at the end of the report.

Whitney Roberts — North Carolina Community Garden Partners: Political Action Campaign

The North Carolina Community Garden Partners (NCCGP) are a Chapel Hill-based non-profit that promote sustainable community gardening and work to establish and sustain community gardens across the state. NCCGP hosts workshops and gives general advise to gardens that are already established as well as communities that want to start a new community garden. This report outlines a project that seeks to address the best practices for starting and sustaining government-supported community garden projects. By analyzing five case studies of successful government-supported community garden initiatives, a set of recommendations for action are listed along with common themes of success found throughout the cases. A total of 14 individuals were interviewed to gather information about each case and to inform the final report. Interviews were conducted primarily via phone conversations, with the exception of a handful that were conducted via email. Key findings include the importance of community asset-mapping, measuring and communicating the tangible value of community gardens, and inviting government officials to events hosted at the gardens themselves. Based on the case studies and subsequent analysis of case studies, I recommend that NCCGP facilitate workshops on grant writing, measuring garden value, and community asset-mapping. NCCGP can use their current GROW workshops as a model. They should also generally incorporate political action and advocacy into their services and advice to gardeners. While most current resources on community gardening focus on the urban movement, this report uniquely addresses more rural-specific issues such as transportation and limited resources. The report is intended for rural community gardeners hoping to leverage government support when either starting a garden or sustaining a garden.

Sarah Sanford — Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association

This project was conducted during the spring semester of 2017. As a Master’s student at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, I worked with Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association (ECWA) for my community-based environmental management practicum course. ECWA is both a watershed organization and a small-scale land trust that operates in Durham, NC and serves the community within the Ellerbe Creek watershed. My primary contacts at ECWA were Executive Director Chris Dreps and Stewardship Coordinator Kat Selm. My objective was to conduct a stakeholder analysis for ECWA’s newest nature preserve, The Rocks. The Rocks is a 2.5 acre forested preserve in north Durham at the intersection of Broad Street and Stadium Drive. The preserve is adjacent to a residential area, a medical park, and various businesses along Broad Street. I conducted informal conversations with stakeholders ranging from adjacent residential neighbors to nearby schools, doctors’ offices, and other businesses. To conduct my analysis, I used information gathered from conversations with stakeholders to construct an interest-influence matrix and a social network analysis. I include several recommendations in this report with regards to how ECWA should engage stakeholders. Primary recommendations include identifying appropriate situations for door-to-door “cold calling” of stakeholders, visiting stakeholders with a purpose, and maintaining consistency in who is representing ECWA. Stakeholder specific recommendations include engaging the Central Professional Park as a key stakeholder, utilizing the daycare center, Montessori Farm School, and pediatrics’ offices as key audiences for the Family Explorers Club, and making contact with local realtors’ associations.

Celeste Whitman — Cape Fear River Watch

Cape Fear River Watch is an environmental nonprofit organization in Wilmington, North Carolina that works to improve and protect the water quality of the Lower Cape Fear River Basin. As a part of an effort to engage more Wilmington residents in water quality issues, Cape Fear River Watch created CreekWatchers, a citizen science water quality observation program. Community volunteers with the program choose or are assigned creek sections/areas within the Lower Cape Fear River Basin and complete monthly water quality observations along with a short creek cleanup. The organization seeks to sustain happy volunteers through a long-term program outlook. In order to engage community members continually over a sustained period of time, Cape Fear River Watch needs to provide adequate and appropriate training and information for water quality observations and incorporate volunteer feedback throughout the evolution of the CreekWatchers program. Program evaluation surveys during the program and greater engagement of all demographic groups in the Lower Cape Fear River Basin will increase the capacity and effectiveness of the program and help to create a sustained citizen science water quality program for the City of Wilmington and surrounding areas.

2016 Project Summaries

Laura Marie Davis — Town of Cary Sustainability Program

This project was a partnership with the Town of Cary Sustainability Program, and specifically addressed recycling contamination within Cary Town Hall. Qualitative data was collected, through interviews and a focus group with Town employees, and analyzed to produce recommendations for a communications plan to reduce contamination in the recycling stream at Town Hall. The research process also revealed complications within the community of Town employees, including potential power inequities and a lack of participatory processes for internal communication projects.Final recommendations include tailoring messages to different Departments based on their unique communication styles, and continuing to seek employee input based on the Town of Cary’s Organizational Communications Value Statement.

Ashley Gordon — Duke Forest

The Duke Forest, owned and managed by Duke University, spans over 7,000 acres and is recognized as a community asset. The Office of the Duke Forest, consisting of five permanent staff members, works to achieve the mission of facilitating fundamental and applied research regarding forested and aquatic ecosystems and developing stewards of natural resources through student education. As part of the Office of the Duke Forest’s strategic planning process, Duke Forest Director, Sara Childs, is interested in gathering input from the public community of forest users. Through a focus group discussion and participatory mapping activity with recreational users of the forest and K-12 educators, I addressed the following primary research question: how do local community members engage with Duke Forest and perceive the Duke Forest’s role in the community now and in the future? Focus group participants indicated that they personally value the Forest for the local, free access to recreate in nature. Respondents suggested opportunities for public outreach and programming could include more community fundraising events, guided tours, and educational activities for both students and adults. Participants identified protecting the Forest from development within the increasingly urbanizing Triangle region as one of the greatest future challenges for the Duke Forest. I recommend that diversifying public participation opportunities with the Forest, particularly through educational programming, will continue to increase the value of the Forest to the community. Actively engaging with the community offers the benefit of establishing a public network of forest users and volunteers who can advocate for the continued existence of the Duke Forest in the future.

Nina Hamilton — Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a member-based non-profit that promotes sustainable agriculture and food systems across the Carolinas through education, advocacy, food systems, and technical services. The Farm Services program, which provides consulting for farmers about sustainable farming practices, hopes conduct a more detailed, qualitative evaluation of their services than they currently do.This report outlines the development of a participatory evaluation framework for the program’s Organic Transition Initiative (OTI) in order to measure the performance and impact of Farm Services’ activities. The framework was designed using a theory of change developed from CFSA staff and community input, and can easily be built on using a proposed hierarchal program evaluation framework for sustainable agriculture. The overarching questions identified were:

  1. Which farmers chooses to participate in OTI activities, and why?
  2. Do farmers gain the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence?
  3. Which farmers adopt organic practices after participating in CFSA’s services, and why?
  4. What is the impact of adopting organic practices on farmers and their businesses?

The framework also provides suggestions on the best mechanisms (surveys and interviews) and timeframes over which to collect data for each question. This report also provides the final products including the theory of change map and evaluation questions, in addition to a guide for replicating the evaluation design process for other CFSA initiatives.

Delfina Cuglievan & Reilly Henson — Greenpeace Raleigh/Durham

Repower Our Schools is a coalition dedicated to encouraging public school systems to commit to using 100% renewable electricity in the long-term. During this practicum, we worked with Greenpeace to support this coalition and engage the community in Durham, North Carolina, in its goals and processes. We focused on the implementation of existing strategies and objectives, doing on-the-ground work to make it easier for Repower Our Schools to work with the Durham Public School system.

Considering that 2016 is a school board election year, we focused on educating teachers, principals and parents about the benefits of renewable energy in schools in order to ensure that the BOE members advocate for clean energy in the Durham Public School system. Furthermore, we presented and leveraged the Durham Public Schools 100% Renewable Electricity Roadmap Study to select constituency groups. We engaged directly with community members to build grassroots support for renewable energy, and specifically solar energy, in schools. We also conducted research, analysis and brainstorming to ensure that the coalition has up-to-date information on its options and methods. These efforts were successful in influencing the priorities set by the BO.

Alexis Kovach — Environment North Carolina

Environment North Carolina is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization working to protect and advance clean air, clean energy and open spaces throughout North Carolina for current and future generations. They work on a variety of issues throughout the state such as the advancement of clean energy, reduction of offshore drilling, and protection of state parks. As a student in a community-based environmental management practicum course at Duke University, I partnered with Environment North Carolina to work on diverse community engagement in their “Go Solar, North Carolina” initiative based in Durham. The goal of this project was to determine how the organization could expand their organizing efforts to include a more diverse community, primarily focused on engaging communities of color in their solar work.

The project involved conducting semi-structured interviews as well as comparative reviews of online literature. The purpose of these methods was to determine how to achieve authentic community engagement and to map out what is already in place in Durham concerning the environmental movement and communities of color. Interviews were held with individuals at organizations renowned for their diversity as well as with those working on environmental issues within these communities. The findings indicate that organizations like Environment North Carolina working towards diverse community engagement should start by focusing on inner-organizational professional development and capacity building around diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Renee Kramer — Roanoke River Partners

The Roanoke River is a calm and peaceful river that meanders through 5 counties across Eastern North Carolina and draws thousands of visitors to enjoy nature. Over the course of the 2016 Spring semester at Duke University, I worked with Roanoke River Partners, an organization that works to attract people to this river and the surrounding towns. Section 2 provides greater details about Roanoke River Partners as an organization. I specifically worked in collaboration with the Director, Carol Shields on this project, which focused on two main components: getting feedback about Roanoke River Partners from local businesses and beginning outreach to universities. I accomplished the first aspect by surveying businesses in one North Carolina town, Williamston, to gauge the local knowledge and opinions about the impact that Roanoke River Partners has on these small town businesses. This was a “check in” for businesses that had previously been contacted with the same survey through a study by Eastern Carolina University students 11 years ago. For information about increasing university awareness across North Carolina, I began by compiling a list of contacts at 16 universities throughout the state, and then I conducted a survey of college students at Duke to identify the largest barriers students faced when thinking of going out to the Roanoke River. By completing this survey and ‘liking’ the Roanoke River Partners Facebook page, the student was entered into a drawing for a free one-night stay on one of the camping platforms. Sections 3 and 4 expand upon the questions and sub-questions I asked and the methods I used to answer these particular questions. Finally, section 5 provides my set of personal recommendations on how to move forward given the information from my findings.

Melissa McChesney — Working Landscapes

Working Landscapes is a nonprofit organization based in Warren County, North Carolina. Their mission is to create more sustainable livelihoods for people in Warren County through stewardship of natural and cultural assets. Founded in 2010, their currently running programs are based on sustainable agriculture and providing healthy, local food to the community and children. Working Landscapes is hoping to begin a new project, which will create greenways throughout Warren County. Through greenways, they hope to increase community access to nature, improve the health of residents and the environment, and foster economic development. I assisted Working Landscapes in gathering preliminary research material to aid in initial planning and preparation for community engagement.The primary question I sought to answer was: What is the potential for planning greenways in Warren County, NC in order to improve the lives of residents by increasing environmental access and physical activity? To answer this question, I produced comparative analysis research on participatory methods, a literature review of the benefits of greenways, and mapping data sources to aid in determining potential trail sites. There are a multitude of social, economic and environmental benefits of green ways including improved health, increased property values and conservation of landscapes and wildlife. After conducting comparative analysis from case studies, it is recommended that Working Landscapes engage the community through participatory methods such as community forums and participatory asset mapping, and form a community coalition including investors, stakeholders and residents to ensure long-term success of the greenways initiative.

Caitlin Starks — Conservation Trust of North Carolina and the African American Heritage Commission of North Carolina

This report summarizes my collaboration with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and the African American Heritage Commission on the Freedom Roads project as part of the Community-Based Environmental Practicum Course in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University. Freedom Roads is a collaborative effort to recognize North Carolina’s freedom-seeking and abolition heritage. To inform the project’s development and use of participatory data gathering and planning, I performed research to determine how to best gather data from community stakeholders to build a database of information on freedom-seeking heritage. My research involved the analysis of other projects using participatory methods, other projects focusing on heritage networks, the use of a survey to collect stakeholder information, and observation of one Freedom Roads community forum. As a result of this research I have identified important stakeholders in Freedom Roads, essential information to collect on heritage sites and resources as well as stakeholders, and some best practices Freedom Roads can consider in their use of participatory methods. Finally, it is recommended that Freedom Roads focus on developing a communication plan and preparing data for mapping.

Sofia Tenorio Fenton — Durham Farmers’ Market

Durham Farmers’ Market (DFM) is an organization that contributes to a sustainable local food system in Durham, North Carolina. In order to keep supporting mutually beneficial relationships between the community and the local farmers and crafts people, DFM created a program to increase awareness of the benefits of shopping at the market and increase the community’s participation. The program is comprised of two components. The first one targets the identification of the main barriers that keep current customers from increasing their participation in the DFM. The second component concentrates on the barriers that prevent non-customers from attending the market. The following report focuses on the first component of the program and particularly, on three specific questions: what are the environmental, social and economic benefits of shopping at the market, what are the perceived barriers of the customers to increase participation, and finally how we can address these barriers? To respond to these questions three methods were used: literature review, comparative research and a multimode survey development. After the preliminary implementation of the survey we obtained valuable information about the DFM’s customer characteristics, behaviors and perceived barriers.

According to the survey responses, the average DFM’s customer is Caucasian, female, with an average age of 43.7, no children under 18 and a household of two adults. This customer has commonly a higher education, is professionally employed and has a household of two adults. In addition, the typical customer is a periodical shopper who purchases less than 50% of groceries at the DFM (72% respondents), spends less than 20$ per visit (32% respondents) and only stays an average of 30-60 min in the market (80% respondents). The average customer goes to the market mainly to support local farmers, and to purchase healthy, fresh produce. The main barriers identified had to do mostly with perceived high prices, market usability and physical access to the DFM. According to the identified barriers, the report proposes areas of improvement/recommendations, such as more sitting space, increasing special offers and discounts, diversifying special events, and selling new products at the market. In addition, this document provides recommendations for the future steps to complete this program component.

Melissa Whaling — Keep Durham Beautiful

Keep Durham Beautiful, a volunteer-based environmental non-profit based in Durham, North Carolina, is interested in initiating a green certification program for food trucks in the area. This program would allow food trucks in Durham to display their dedication to environmentally sustainable practices and economically benefit by gaining a competitive advantage. A participatory approach was used to begin the initial stages of planning this project. The methods used attempted to answer the research question: How should the Green Food Truck Certification program be designed in a way that incorporates the interests of stakeholders and positively impacts the community of Durham, NC? To answer this, two surveys were implemented (one to consumers and one to vendors), and a literature review was performed. Focus group materials were also prepared for eventual continuation of this study.

The surveys found that consumers were interested in paying higher prices for eco-friendly foods, and vendors were willing to change their environmental behavior to increase their brand’s marketability. However, it was found that this certification would be most successful if other selection attributes (i.e. appealing menu, clean preparation, and friendly staff) were utilized to supplement green practices. Moreover, certain green practices were defined as more important to both vendors and consumers than others (i.e. recycling, waste reduction, and conserving energy), meaning the certification would benefit most from incorporating these practices into its standards. The results also identified certain gaps in knowledge about the environmental impacts of food trucks and waste management best practices, indicating a need for increased education and outreach to specific groups. The literature emphasized the need for a broad marketing campaign when implementing green certification programs to allow customers to make informed decisions when choosing between green food trucks. Finally, formal recommendations were made that incorporate findings from both the surveys and literature review, and are discussed at the end this report.

Daniela Williams — Community Food Strategies

Community Food Strategies (CFS) is a program housed under the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. They have a small team of individuals representing many different organizations across North Carolina conducting this work together, with an overarching goal of building more sustainable, resilient and equitable food systems through the development and support of county Food Policy Councils (FPCs) that have strong ties within the community. The team is currently transitioning from assisting the development of FPCs to facilitating the realization and tracking of goals for established councils.  

My work was centered on the assessment of tools and identification of metrics that would provide the most useful information to the Triangle FPCs to guide future actions. This was achieved through addressing five main questions: (1) usefulness of the baseline assessment, (2) the CFS baseline assessment in comparison to others being conducted across the country, (3) overlap between Results-Based Accountability indicators and baseline assessment metrics, (4) 10 metrics that best describe the Triangle Region and (5) the projected story for North Carolina based on three FPC regional gatherings.

To answer these questions, all the FPCs in the United States and the resources they have made available online were compiled into a comprehensive document.Baseline assessment data collected for seven pilot counties were synthesized to create an appendix of metrics and associated sources common more than four counties. FPC members from the four counties that make up the Triangle region were consulted to aid in better understanding the baseline assessment process, outcomes and perceived usefulness. Basic findings included that counties find the baseline assessment extremely beneficial, although time consuming and lacking in primary data; CFS is above or in line with other baseline assessments for FPCs in the country; and there is some overlap between the Results-Based Accountability indicators and the baseline assessment metrics.



Nicholas School students enrolled in the Master of Environmental Management (MEM) or Master of Forestry (MF) degree programs are eligible to participate in the certificate program.

How to Pursue

Students who wish to pursue this certificate program should add the program through their Stellic account.

For more information on how to do so, please use the following links:

For more information on certificate courses, please contact the Certificate Director, Elizabeth Shapiro- Garza.