Faculty and Staff

Cain, Kelly


Kelly Cain

Professor, Environmental Science and Management and Director, St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development
member of graduate faculty

Start Year: 1986



Graduate: Ph.D., Education. University of Minnesota. 1988.
Graduate: M.S., Outdoor Education. Western Kentucky University. 1980.
Undergraduate: Western Kentucky University. 1978.
B.S., Agriculture.
A.S., Architectural Technology
A.S., Liberal Studies
Certificate, Real Estate

One-Page Vita

Courses Taught:

ESM 105 Introduction to Environmental Studies
ESM 220 Environmental Sustainability: Theory, Issues, & Management
ESM 307/507 Multicultural Perspectives on the Environment
ESM 365 Interpretive Services
ESM 377 Business Ecology
ESM 411 Site Planning & Development
ESM 490 Special Problems / Independent Study
ESM 389/589 Nicaragua / Costa Rica Study Tour for Sustainability
ESM 620 Wildlife Recreation, Nature Tourism, & Sustainability-Based Systems
ESM 645 Wildlife & Visitor Management for Nature Tourism
ESM 707 Sustainable Community Development
ESM 711 Site Planning & Development for Wildlife Tourism
ESM 750 WRNT Graduate Capstone
MNGT 789 Special Topics: Sustainability-Based Business Models

Research Interests:

Kelly's current research interests focus on a sustainable community approach to "best design and management practices" (BDMPs) for business, local units of government, NGOs, and state and federal agencies. These approaches range from strategic and comprehensive planning templates, to the energy and food self-sufficiency models, and beyond. Soon to be released is an assessment and macro-economic study of food self-sufficiency capacity for each of the fifteen (15) counties of the St. Croix Watershed in both WI and MN.

Professional Activities:

Director, St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development. Duties: encourage, facilitate cross discipline/college collaboration on issues related to SCD, direct daily operations, assist in planning, design, implementation and evaluation of SCISCD. May 2007 – Current.

Professor, Environmental Science & Management, Department of Plant & Earth Science. University of Wisconsin - River Falls. August 1986 - Current.

Teaching Assistant, Division of Recreation, Parks, & Leisure Studies, University of Minnesota. Duties: teach undergraduate core courses; research asst.; pre-major advising. September 1983 - June 1986.

Instructor, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC. Duties: teach core undergraduate courses in Recreation Curriculum & specialized outdoor education activity courses. August 1982 - June 1983.


Cain, K. (2009). "The Natural Step as the Moral Equivalent of War." What We Need Is Here Sustainable Living Newsletter. January 2009.

Cain, K. (2009). “Foreword” to (Velte, Velte, & Elsenpeter) Green IT: Reduce Your Information System’s Environmental Impact While Adding to the Bottom Line. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-162833-4.

Cain, K. (2007). "In Pursuit of Sustainable Communities." River Falls Journal. August 3, 2007.

Cain, K. (2005, Feb. 3) "Sustainability-Based Business Models: Back to the Future". BizNews. UWRF News Bureau.

Cain, K. (2002). "Emotions." McNair Newsletter. Volume II, Issue II, Spring 01-02.

Cain, K. (2002). The Backcountry Classroom: Lesson Plans for Teaching in the Wilderness (1992). Review/Revision of the Backcountry Environmental Ethics Curriculum Chapter. (Wagstaff & Drury, Eds.), Republished in 2005.

Cain, K. (1999). Guest Editor. Journal of Experiential Education. Environmental Awareness Issue. Vol. 22, #3.

Cain, K. (1999). "The Burden & Privilege of Educating for Environmental Awareness." Journal of Experiential Education. Vol. 22, #3, 117&122.

Simpson, S. & K. Cain (1996). A Leopold for the nineties: the ecological age and outdoor recreation. Journal of Experiential Education. 19(1):14-21.

Simpson, S. & K. Cain (1995 [date of issue: 2/97]). Recreation's role in the environmental ethics dialogue: the case of aldo leopold & the morality of hunting. Journal of Applied Recreation Research. Vol. 20, #3.

Simpson, S. & K. Cain (1994). "Leopold on hunting." Game & Fish Publications (national publication appearing in 30 regional outdoor sport magazines; [i.e. Wisconsin Sportsman]), Volume 9.

Reprint: Simpson, S. & K. Cain (1996). "Leopold on hunting." Strides Toward a Land Ethic. Pheasants Forever. Vol. 12, #7, 4-6.

Simpson, S., K. Cain, & Y. Guo (1993). "The recreation management aesthetic of aldo leopold." Journal of Outdoor Recreation Study (Republic of China). Vol. 6, #3, (In Chinese).

Cain, K. (1991). Judgment & decision-making ability. In D. Cockrell (Ed.), The Wilderness Educator. Pittsboro, IN: ICS Books, Inc.

Cain, K. & L. McAvoy (1990). Experience-based judgment. In J. Miles & S. Priest (Eds.), Adventure Education. State College, PA: Venture Publishing, Inc.

Cain, K. (1988). A delphi study on the development, evaluation, & documentation of judgment & decision-making ability in outdoor leaders of adventure education programs (Doctoral dissertation, University of Minnesota).

Cain, K. (1985). Wilderness education association certification. In J. Miles & R. Watters (Eds.), Proceedings of the 1984 national conference on outdoor recreation (pp. 53-61). Pocatello, ID: ISU Press.

Phipps, M. & K. Cain (1984). Wilderness education association, one plan for U.S. certification & a comparison to British qualifications. Adventure Education (Great Britain), 6, 24-26.

McAvoy, L. H., K. Cain, et al. (1984). Off road vehicle use & impacts in state recreation lands - A report of three case studies. Off-road vehicle use in Minnesota - Appendix II (pp. 1-59). Tech report submitted to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.


Dr. Kelly Cain is the founding Director of the St. Croix Institute for Sustainable Community Development (SCISCD) at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where has been a Professor in Environmental Science & Management for 25 years, teaching a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in sustainable community development, business ecology, resource management, land use and site planning, multi-cultural perspectives, and ecotourism. He has also served as Director of Campus Sustainability for the past five years.

From its launch in May of 2007, Kelly has led the St. Croix Institute to become one of the leading university-based "think & do tanks" in the country for entrepreneurial planning, design, development, and fine-tuning of integrated sustainable business, campus, and community models.

Strategic expertise is grounded in a holistic systems approach for conceptualization through scoping, metric development, feasibility, planning, design, implementation, and evaluation for projects ranging from site planning and physical facilities to a variety of disruptive entrepreneur ventures.

Kelly currently Chair’s the initiative for one of the most progressive Eco-Village development projects in the country for Habitat for Humanity. His breadth and depth of experience and expertise ranges from national and multinational corporate positioning of sustainable business model design and localized carbon markets for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and other clients, to consulting for the US Fish & Wildlife Service / Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on comprehensive conservation planning, and for the Aspen Institute and Ford Foundation on rural wealth creation through energy, food, and ecosystem services self-sufficiency models.

He consults for comprehensive and strategic planning initiatives for a variety of NGO's, campuses, communities, and local units of government, and serves on the Boards of St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, WestCAP, and WECC, Inc. Kelly has significant international experience in Scotland, Nicaragua, Trinidad, the southern Tibetan Plateau of China, and various other countries.

Kelly lives with his wife Ruth, various orbiting adult children, dogs, cats, chickens (and the spirit of “Rex, the Rooster from Hell”), 40,000 bees (give or take a few thousand), and various other critters on a 5-acre permaculture / Guilded Gardens CSA farm in an 80-acre intentional community he and Ruth helped establish in 1990 outside of River Falls.