Donna Woudenberg

Donna Woudenberg

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications & Presentations
  • Background
  • Interests
  • Grants
  • Advising
  • Courses Taught
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Title Lecturer
Address 912 Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege Street
Lincoln NE
68583-0989
Phone 402-472-7432
FAX 402-472-2946
E-mail dwoudenberg2@unl.edu
Vitae Download file

Donna Woudenberg remembers when the School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln first started discussing the Human Dimensions specialization. "I thought, this sounds like they're actually writing it for me!" she recalled. "It's exactly what I'm interested in and what I want to do." Four years later, she became the first person at the University of Nebraska to earn a doctorate in Natural Resources with a specialization in Human Dimensions – a program designed to better understand and address the interactions between humans and the environment.

Woudenberg has made a career of studying how humans are affected by -- and affect – the natural environment. She is now a researcher and post-doc with the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC).

"I have always had a really high interest in both the physical and social science. The human dimension degree to me is a hybrid degree – you straddle that fence between physical and social science and try to merge both of those together," said Woudenberg. She remains appreciative of the opportunity to take classes across many disciplines -- Anthropology, Geography, Community and Regional Planning, Economics, Political Science, and Sociology – and shape her own program.

For her master's thesis in Applied Climatology, Woudenberg worked with the High Plains Regional Climate Center to better connect the public with important climate data. Through surveys and interviews, and in collaboration with water management planners, she developed the web-based Climate and Weather Clearinghouse. Her dissertation project explored perception of drought and its sociological impacts on the Great Plains.

Much of Woudenberg's current work with the NDMC is making physical science – issues of drought, water, and climate change -- accessible for public information and use. Current projects include developing a series of online modules on climate change literacy for educators, and collaborating with Project WET – Water Education for Teachers – on a booklet titled "Discover the Waters of Nebraska" to be distributed statewide this fall. She is also working on a "Drought Ready Communities" kit for communities to use in drought planning.

Creating these public learning tools, she says, is not solely about education, but also about participation and feedback, with the goal of improving programs. "There's a lot of research that shows that if local people – stakeholders – are included from the beginning, there's a lot more buy-in and ownership of programs and they're far more successful in the long term," she said. "I think there is more awareness that unless the social component is addressed, then a lot of actions are not going to be successful."

Woudenberg is especially interested in how climate change and natural disasters impact women, minorities, and indigenous people. She has begun work with Native American tribes in the Midwest to identify their needs for more culture-specific weather education materials.

In addition, Woudenberg teaches a core course for undergraduates in environmental studies that she designed called, "Individual and Cultural Perspectives on the Environment." Woudenberg says the idea behind the class is to look at individual environmental topics as pieces of a puzzle of the larger global ecosystem, and to make undergraduates aware of global human-environment issues.

Her advice to students: There are many opportunities for those who can work in both physical and social sciences.

"I think employers are looking for people who are well-rounded," she said. "They don't just want people who understand hard science because you don't normally just sit at a computer and run models. Most people have to communicate well, and they need to be able to write and speak well and problem-solve and also help with conflict management. They need to understand the whole system instead of just one component of the system."

Selected Publications

Bathke, D., N. Wall, J. Nothwehr, K. Smith, D. Woudenberg, T. Bernadt, C. Bergman, J. Robine, M. Hayes, M. Svoboda, L. Darby, and R. Pulwarty, 2012: Building a Sustainable Network of Drought Communities. National Integrated Drought Information System Engaging Preparedness Communities Workshop Report, Chicago, Illinois, 37 pp. Online
Woudenberg, D. L., D. A. Wilhite, and M. J. Hayes. 2008. Perception of drought hazard and its sociological impacts in South-Central Nebraska. Great Plains Research, 18(1): 93-102. Online

Educational Background

  • BS - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Environmental Studies (2000)
  • MS - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Natural Resources with a specialization in Applied Climatology (2002)
  • PhD - University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Natural Resources with a specialization in Human Dimensions (2006)

Affiliations (index)

Notable Websites

Areas of Interest

Drought management

Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant Title Workshops for Livestock Production
Starting Date 9/26/2011
Principal Investigators
Cody Knutson
Co-PIs
Tonya Haigh
Jerry Volesky
Donna Woudenberg
Ending Date 9/25/2012
Funding Level $93,752.00
Funding Source Department of Agriculture

 
Grant Title Global Climate Change Literacy for Educators: Using On-line Professional Development to Integrate Content and Pedagogy (additional funding)
Starting Date 7/1/2009
Principal Investigators
Dave Gosselin
Co-PIs
Donna Woudenberg
Ronald Bonstetter
Ending Date 6/30/2011
Funding Level $29,305.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 
Grant Title Global Climate Change Literacy for Educators: Using On-line Professional Development to Integrate Content and Pedagogy
Starting Date 7/1/2009
Principal Investigators
Dave Gosselin
Co-PIs
Donna Woudenberg
Ronald Bonstetter
Ending Date 6/30/2011
Funding Level $146,688.00
Funding Source National Aeronautics and Space Administration