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Wisconsin Land Trust Excellence and Advancement Program (LEAP)

LEAP Program Image

The Land Trust Alliance and Gathering Waters Conservancy have a common goal: we want to help land trusts achieve excellence. To do this, we teamed up and launched the Land Trust Excellence and Advancement Program (LEAP) in Wisconsin in 2011.

LEAP is a multi-year program of services and support designed to help Wisconsin’s land trusts permanently protect the state’s natural and working lands by ensuring their own sustainability, effectiveness and credibility.

Wisconsin LEAP delivers these services in a variety of ways.  A limited number of land trusts that are at a critical juncture in their development or are preparing for land trust accreditation are periodically accepted into the direct services part of the program and receive a combination of organizational assessments, mentoring, and small grants. Land trusts accepted into the program receive this full suite of individualized services over a two-year time period.

The LEAP program also provides small grant opportunities and mentoring services to Wisconsin land trusts that are not yet ready for the intensive full advancement program. In 2012 we assisted 10 land trusts with guided assessments, small grants, and mentoring projects.

In addition to member services, Wisconsin LEAP has allowed the Alliance and Gathering Waters to bring increased in-person and online training opportunities to Wisconsin, to provide access to online information through our websites, and to offer more intensive coaching on subjects ranging from board governance to land acquisitions. Upcoming trainings are posted to both the Alliance and Gathering Waters websites. Ask An Expert conference calls also are offered the first Friday of most months to board and staff members of all land trusts in the Midwest. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us.

Wisconsin LEAP is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Wisconsin Energy Foundation, Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, the Wisconsin DNR, John C. Bock Foundation, and many individual supporters.  We also thank the McKnight Foundation for their past support of this program.

Please view the full program description.


Wisconsin LEAP News and Resources

LEAP Grant Applications

Need help LEAPing across a big hurdle? We are pleased to offer grants for independent projects through the LEAP Program. This opportunity for small ($1,000 to $5,000) grants is open to all Gathering Water Conservancy and Land Trust Alliance member land trusts in Wisconsin. This is your opportunity to accomplish a high priority activity: a fundraising plan, communications improvements, completing baseline documentation reports, or many other tasks. Grants will be awarded on a competitive basis. Applications are due July 15. Read more information and apply today >>


Direct Services Program

We recently accepted four new members into the Wisconsin LEAP program. Congratulations to Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Kinnickinnic River Land Trust, Madison Audubon Society, and Tall Pines Conservancy. These land trusts join the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Door County Land Trust, Natural Heritage Land Trust, and The Prairie Enthusiasts. Please contact MaryKay O’Donnell or Kate Zurlo-Cuva if you are interested in joining the LEAP program.  

Peer Mentoring Program

The LEAP Peer Mentoring program is currently underway.  Thirty-three  Wisconsin and Michigan land conservation professionals are learning from each other and sharing with one another through this positive learning environment.  For more details, please contact MaryKay O’Donnell at the Land Trust Alliance or Kate Zuro-Cuva at Gathering Waters.



For more information, please contact:

MaryKay O'Donnell
Land Trust Alliance
Phone: (269) 352-7032


Kate Zurlo-Cuva
Gathering Waters Conservancy
Phone: (608) 251-9131


Photo by: Kara Callahan, Courtesy of Gathering Waters Conservancy

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