What We Value about the Land 


an illustration of a powerplant, mountains, plants, a barn, and birds



What the Program Is

Our Citizen Science Program "What We Value about the Land?" is a series of lessons that help students, teachers, and citizens of all ages to better understand and think critically about what we use our lands for and what we value most about them.

The social, economic, and environmental benefits provided by our lands are innumerable--from food and energy production, to watersheds and wildlife habitats. But there are also trade-offs associated with any land use. "What We Value about the Land?" focuses on four topics that are key to understanding these benefits and trade-offs:


Food Systems



 a field with bales of hay and power lines going through it, a blue sky with clouds in the background


The words "About the Lessons"

The lessons in"What We Value about the Land?" are an opportunity for community members to learn about the research we're doing on the WAFERx project and to be involved as citizen scientists. By making and recording observations, you will be collecting valuable data that will contribute to our research.

WAFERx is a reseach collaborative exploring linkages between food, water, energy, biodiversity, and social systems. Our goal is to understand how these systems would be affected by new agricultural and energy systems that mitigate climate change.


Through the lessons we have developed, community members will learn about the linkages between these complex systems and will consider how different land-use choices could impact local people, communities, cultures, and ecosystems.


An illustration that icludes an image depicted the water, food, energy nexus; mountains, trees, wildlife, cards, fields, and cities; an da map of the Upper Missouri River Basin 


How to Participate


These lessons are designed for students ages 9 to 13. We created them to be used in an out-of-school environment and think they would be ideal for after school programs. However, they could also be used by younger students, teens, or citizens of any age.

While some of the material in the lessons is specific to the region of the Upper Missouri River Basin, much of it could be applied anywhere. 


We are doing a pilot test of this program in Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota and are currently accepting applications. If your application is accepted, you will receive your kit in April (in time for Citizen Science Month).


If you are interested in participating, please apply here.


We have a limited number of physical kits for the pilot test of this program. But, all digital resources will be made available online for free download.


 A map of the Upper Missouri River Basin and a photo of students looking at a mountain


What Participants Receive

We will provide a toolkit to educators that includes lessons, activities, and materials that support students in making observations and collecting data about the lands around them. These toolkits also include instructions and training materials to help educators implement the kit.


If you would like to be part of the pilot test for this program, you will receive:

· Detailed outlines for 3-4 activities, each approximately one hour

· Citizen scientist supplies for up to 20 individual students

· Equipment for you to keep

· Technical support throughout the project

· If your students would like, an in-person visit or videoconference with a faculty member or student from the research team


All supplies and resources are yours to keep after you complete the program. Program participation and student led data collection will be reported within the research team, and in WAFERx outreach materials.


A photo of a hand holding a piece of grass and a photo of people standing in a green field making observations


Who to Contact

If you have questions about the "What We Value about the Land" program or about the WAFERx project, please email:



photo of Selena Ahmed

Selena Ahmed

Associate Professor of Sustainable Food Systems at MSU, Principal Investigator of the MSU Food and Health Lab, Principal Investigator of the WAFERx project





photo of Suzi Taylor 

Suzi Taylor

Assistant Director for Outreach and Communications, WAFERx Outreach Team





photo of Teresa Warne

Teresa Warne

Lab Manager for the MSU Food and Health Lab, Research Associate on the WAFERx Team




 Contact Us

Montana State University
P.O. Box 1234
Bozeman, MT 59717-1234
Principal Investigator
Selena Ahmed


Outreach Coordinator
Selena Gerace