Viviane Simon-Brown has a checkered past. With BS degrees in Science and French from Portland State University, and an Executive Masters in Public Administration from Lewis & Clark College, she has worked as a forestry tech on three forests, and as a professional forestry contractor on five. She also worked in environmental education for the Youth Conservation Corps, Outdoor Schools, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and the High Desert Museum. As a community college administrator, she directed the higher education and summer school programs, where she led whitewater rafting trips.
Simon-Brown's rich and varied background in science and natural resources combined with her innovative approaches to outreach and education have proven to be a winning formula for the College of Forestry. As Forestry Extension Specialist and Associate Professor (Forest Resources), Simon-Brown educates communities and Extension professionals in public process, to help them deal with tough natural resources issues.
She also coordinates the Sustainable Living Project at OSU. Its mission is to
improve the quality of life and reduce environmental degradation in Oregon by
fostering new consumption patterns and sustainable lifestyles. Since its
inception in 1998, over 7500 individuals have participated in her Sustainable
Living workshops and over 525,000 have browsed the website. http://www.cof.orst.edu/cof/extended/sustain/.
And 30,000 Unshopping Cards, one education tool developed by Simon-Brown, have been distributed to every continent except Antarctica.
Her creative approach to interaction with the public includes art shows and theater about forestry. Simon-Brown and forestry colleagues put together three award-winning touring art exhibits-"Seeing the Forest" 1999, 2000, and 2002-2003-which were seen by 150,000 people in 12 communities. Fifty-three Northwest artists contributed 115 art works, chosen for their ability to convey forestry-related concepts and values. The exhibits have received national and regional recognition, including the NREM National Flagship Award and the Innovative Program Award from the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals.
Simon-Brown and her colleagues in Extension have also added a play to their repertoire of innovative, art-oriented approaches to engaging the public in forestry-related issues. "Saving Eden Creek," by John Sulzmann and Janean Creighton, was first staged for the 2004 national meeting of the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals. Characters in the play portray different natural resource ethics. As it says in the discussion guide which accompanies the play, "Saving Eden Creek isn't just a play about trees. It isn't a story about who's right and who's wrong. It's a story about ethical dilemmas. It's about "right versus right.'"
"At the University and in Extension, we tend to talk about facts," says
Simon-Brown. "We've underestimated the power of people's values. We need to
listen to what the public has to say to us about them."
Simon-Brown is the incoming president of ANREP, the Association of Natural Resources Extension Professionals, and the director of the National Network for Sustainable Living Education. She's received several Search for Excellence awards from OSUEA. Her international work includes research in England, Belgium, Germany, and India. She balances her busy schedule by traveling with her canoe on her car just in case a lake calls to her along the way.