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Rural Community Well-Being

A better understanding of rural well-being can help inform governmental efforts to improve rural prosperity and has garnered attention as a focal point for governmental effort in rural areas.

Livelihood-Stress and Social Support for Great Basin Ranch Management

  • PI: Amanda Bentley Brymer; co-PIs: J.D. Wulfhorst, Fred Pierson, Pat Clark
  • This phenomenological study aims to describe livestock producers’ lived experiences of stacked social-ecological stressors and elaborates the roles of social support in reducing the negative impacts of such stressors. In the context of livestock production in rangeland systems, the literature has described several stressors (i.e., environmental demands that require behavioral adjustment), including annual grass invasion and wildfire risk. By asking ranching stakeholders to share their lived experiences with such stressors, this research characterizes a range of experiences, including negative events, chronic strains, or trauma. This research will also characterize stress reactions (i.e., physiological or emotional responses) and participants’ networks of support for informational, practical, and emotional assistance. By illuminating the lived experiences of livestock producers with socialpsychological theory on the roles of social support in reducing negative impacts of stress on physical and mental health, this research provides critical context for the Great Basin site and LTAR network. Specifically, our findings will shed light on structural conditions that put people at risk of reduced health and well-being and thus provide concepts for future sociological research at LTAR sites beyond the Great Basin.

Rural Prosperity across the Food System

  • PI: Claire Friedrichsen; co-PIs: Gwendŵr Meredith, Zachary Hurst, J.D. Wulfhorst
  • What is rural prosperity? This research will explore and articulate a holistic understanding of rural prosperity from the perspectives of food system stakeholders. Grounded theory methodology will allow for an inductive scientific systematic development of a conceptual model of the dimensions of rural prosperity. By using a biographic narrative interviewing technique we will gain an understanding of how rural prosperity evolves across the lifetime of individuals and rural communities. Individuals involved in various aspects of the food system will be sampled to gain a holistic understanding of rural p prosperity and its dynamics with the food system. This research will provide constructs and variables to use for developing a foundation for determining what constructs to use for aspirational treatment adoption tradeoffs on rural prosperity.

What do you need to be well? Environmental change & impacts to human well-being

  • PI: Amanda Bentley Brymer; co-PIs: J.D. Wulfhorst, Fred Pierson, Pat Clark
  • This research project focuses on understanding what people need to improve and sustain their quality of life and well-being. We ask livestock producers, public land and resource managers, recreation users, conservationists, and wilderness advocates who live and work among rural communities in southwestern Idaho to describe social-ecological conditions that support and degrade their well-being. Using grounded theory methodology, we analyze semi-structured interviews to discover meanings of well-being and to understand how people experience changes to their quality of life in an arid rangelands context. Our findings support previous research that suggests well-being is experienced at both individual and community scales, with sense of wellbeing influenced by ecological, economic, and socio-cultural processes. Specifically, our findings highlight the role of community in building or damaging relationships that support human wellbeing and ecosystem health. A key outcome of this project is a comprehensive set of socialecological concepts for use as a common language and synthesis guide for LTAR researchers and agroecosystem practitioners.

Recent publication: Bentley Brymer AL, Toledo D, Spiegal S, Pierson F, Clark PE and Wulfhorst J.D. (2020) Social-Ecological Processes and Impacts Affect Individual and Social Well-Being in a Rural Western U.S. Landscape. Front. Sustain. Food Syst. 4:38. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2020.00038


College of Natural Resources

Physical Address:
975 W. 6th Street
Moscow, Idaho
Rm: CNR 16B

Mailing Address:
975 W. 6th Street
Moscow, Idaho

Phone: 208-885-7428