Joel J. Orth

Joel OrthAssociate Professor


  • Agricultural and Rural History,
  • Environmental History,
  • 20th Century United States

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. Iowa State University, History
  • M.A. Iowa State University, History
  • B.A. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, History

Research and Teaching Interests

My dissertation discusses the creation of a conservation landscape on the Great Plains. I continue to research and write on the Great Plains environment, but I am interested in environmental and agricultural history topics from many periods and areas.  I teach United States History, Environmental History, and Teaching Methods.

Awards, Honors and Professional Activities

  • California Council on History Education (CCHE), 2008 Conference, Santa Clara, CA
  • Environmental Education Initiative (EEI), unit reviewer
  • Performance Assessment of California Teachers (PACT), Santa Barbara, CA
  • Accreditation, Accountability and Quality: An Institutional Orientation and Professional Development Conference, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), Arlington, Virginia
  • Gilbert C. Fite Award for Best Dissertation in Agricultural History, 2004
  • 43rd Annual Missouri Valley History Conference Prize for best graduate student paper

Selected Publications and Presentations

  • “’Directing nature’s creative forces’: climate change, afforestation, and the Nebraska National Forest,” Western Historical Quarterly Summer (2011).
  • “The Shelterbelt Project; cooperative conservation in 1930s America” Agricultural History Summer (2007).           
  • 44th Annual Missouri Conference on History, Kansas City, Missouri. Presented a paper “Regional Transformation to Agronomic Tool: Afforestation on the Great Plains, 1870-1942”
  • Making Environmental History Relevant in the 21st Century. Durham, North Carolina. Presented a paper “Insurance Against the Evil Effects of Drought: Federal Planning and the Forest Service on the Great Plains”
  • 44th Annual Missouri Valley History Conference, Omaha, Nebraska. Presented a paper “Directing Nature’s Creative Forces: The Establishment of the Nebraska National Forest”
  • 22nd Annual Mid-America Conference on History, Lawrence, Kansas. Presented a paper “To Translate Scientific Abstractions into Concrete Images of Human Interest: Science, Nature, and the Shelterbelt Project”
  • Thirty-third Annual Northern Great Plains History Conference, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Presented a paper “The Shelterbelt Project and Climate Change”
  • Seventh International Symposium on Society and Resource Management, University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri. Presented a paper “The Shelterbelt Project: The Technical, Social, and Natural Implications of Decision Making”


My duties as the History-Social Science Credential Advisor mean that I spend a lot of time working with colleagues from the School of Education and in the public schools where I help supervise student teachers. For the History Department, I serve on the assessment committee, the liberal studies committee, as the history minor adviser, advise MA theses, and hiring committees. 

Organizational Memberships

  • American Society of Environmental History
  • Forest History Society
  • Agricultural History Society, Edwards Award Committee
  • California Council for History Education


  • HIST 207 – Freedom and Equality in American History
  • HIST 322 – Modern America (20th Century US)
  • HIST 440 – United States Environmental History
  • HIST 424 – Organizing and Teaching History
  • HIST 425 – Teaching Practicum
  • HIST 505 – Seminar: North American Environmental History
  • HIST 510 – Comparative World Environmental History
  • Education 469 – Part-time Student Teaching
  • Education 479 – Full-time Student Teaching

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