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Center to Improve Veteran Involvement in Care (CIVIC)

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Tending to Partnerships

About the Tending to Partnerships Project

What happens, in our bodies and spirits, when we get outdoors, into nature, into the more-than-human world? Does it bring us joy? Does it bring up painful feelings? Is it uncomfortable and strange, or is it like coming home? Does it make our muscles hurt or relax, our breath labored or easeful? What’s it like if there are other people there with us? What do we need, to make it a good experience? What does any of it have to do with being a military Veteran?

These are the kinds of questions that the Tending to Partnerships project is interested in exploring. This study seeks to learn more about how programs that teach farming, gardening, conservation and similar skills to Veterans may produce benefits for health and well-being. The study is also trying to find out what makes such programs more effective or enjoyable, and how such programs can be used in partnerships between the Veterans Health Administration (VA) and community organizations pursuing similar goals of Veteran healing.

We are interested in talking both with Veterans and with program staff. The most common way to participate in the study is by taking part in a single interview over the phone or a video conference, but there are other ways to participate too. If you have questions, or might be interested, please get in touch!

How to contact us:
Email Anaïs Tuepker at
Email Dylan Waller at

Funding provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Rural Health. Visit to learn more.


Meet Our Team

Photo of Anais Tuepker

Anaïs Tuepker, PhD, MPH

Anaïs is a social scientist whose research focuses on improving primary health care for both health workers and patients. She believes relationships are at the heart of how we craft our lives and make change in the world, and for that reason her work often focuses on topics like relational leadership and building effective partnerships between health systems and community-based organizations. For the last 10 years, she has been an Investigator within the VA Portland Health Care System. She is also a community activist and organizer around climate, environmental justice, and sustainability issues. She has a PhD in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Public Health. She grew up in the Gulf South and the rural Midwest, and has been putting down roots in Portland for the last two decades. She is a devoted but definitely amateur gardener. She has an ongoing commitment to learning about Indigenous cultural and research practices, and the ways all researchers can benefit from a wider understanding of what kinds of knowledge can contribute to improved well-being.

Photo of Dylan Waller

Dylan Waller, MS

Dylan is a sociologist who has been doing research in the medical field for over ten years, seven of which have been with the VA. As a research associate, Dylan often works on multiple projects concurrently, through contributing his skills in project development, interviewing and data analysis. His favorite work most often centers community building among minoritized identities (such as race, mental health, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, rural living). Dylan does his best to honor the individuals he interviews through telling their stories in the hope of influencing positive change in the world.
A resident of Portland, OR since 2010, Dylan delights in his status of amateur vegetable gardener - his wife says he plants too many tomato plants each year, but that just means there are plenty to share with friends and neighbors! When not at home, he loves to take road trips, and has a long-term goal of visiting every US national park.