Climate-Smart Project Director

Address: 611 Siegfriedale Rd, Kutztown, PA 19530

Dr. Kristie Wendelberger is the Climate-Smart Project Director at Rodale Institute. The Southern Piedmont Climate-Smart Project, led by Rodale Institute, is a $25 million research project funded through the USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program and the largest organic/conventional comparative research study in Rodale’s 75 year history. Kristie spearheaded the project bringing together a team of 12 partners across the southeast and Wisconsin; she is now lead Principal Investigator on the work. Project partners include the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Clemson University, Emory University, Georgia Organics, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, North Carolina State University, Rodale Institute, Soil Health Institute, The Connect Group, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, and Virginia Association of Biological Farming.

Kristie is a plant conservation ecologist, science and policy communicator, and environmental educator. Ecosystem conservation is her passion. She is drawn to the complexity of ecological and conservation issues, the large-scale pressures that have created them, and engaging the diverse network of stakeholders needed to accomplish large-scale conservation actions. Kristie’s research takes a whole-systems, multi-disciplinary approach to address these complex issues. She has worked on a diverse array of conservation and ecosystem challenges including: ecological assessments of plant canopy species in the tropics, rare species conservation in the Everglades and Caribbean, reproduction niche research and restoration, fire ecology, habitat threat analysis, and now agricultural impacts on climate change and soil health and ways to engage consumers in supporting better farming practices through purchasing power. Some of the tools Kristie has used in her work are: engaged neutral communication, field experiments, greenhouse experiments, geospatial analysis, remote sensing, GIS, seed storage and ex-situ plant conservation, project management, R, experimental design, public speaking, policy maker engagement, and stakeholder collaboration.

Kristie holds a B.S. in Environmental and Plant Ecology from Ohio University, M.S. in Ecology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and a Ph.D. in Biology from Florida International University. Before joining Rodale Institute, Kristie worked at The Everglades Foundation engaging policy makers, stakeholders, community leaders, donors, and children in the importance of Everglades restoration, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden where she worked on rare species and habitat conservation, and the US Forest Service mapping the reduction of Aspen tree populations in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Kristie is an advisory board member to Southern Sustainable Agricultural and Research and Education program, a member of the Ecological Society of America, and mother to her son, Jaxson, cat, Ramón, and dog, Bella. She is based in Georgia.

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