Rally 2012: Celebrating the Spirit of the Land
1,600 Help the Land Trust Alliance Celebrate 30 Years of Conservation Success
By Christina Soto, Editor, Land Trust Alliance
From the “first-timers,” people attending their first Rally, to the “100-percenters,” those who have been to all 25 Rallies, to the founders, those who helped shape the land trust movement at its beginnings 30 years ago, all were welcomed by Michael Dowling, board chair of the Land Trust Alliance, to Rally 2012: The National Land Conservation Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, September 29 - October 2.
“Each and every Rally, in every uniquely beautiful host city, has brought new ideas, new friends and great networking opportunities,” said Dowling at the welcome dinner. “Most of all, Rally inspires a renewal of our collective commitment to conservation and the lasting impact that each and every person in this room brings to our communities, our nation and our planet earth.”
Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance, described another important benefit of Rally: “It’s an extraordinary thing for land conservation people who work in communities throughout the country to come to Rally and see they are not alone. We’re here and we’re powerful!”
Rally by the Numbers
Participants – 1,606
First-time attendees – 524
Workshops – 105
Seminars – 25
Field trips – 10
Scholarships – 123 to 98 land trusts
The opportunity to learn from the best presenters available to the land trust community drew 1,600 conservation leaders to Rally from all across the U.S. and several countries. Workshop topics included the basic, “Monitoring Conservation Easements,” to the advanced, “Engaging New Communities and Expanding Traditional Friends to Advance Mission.”
Attendees also heard engaging speakers M. Sanjayan, lead scientist of The Nature Conservancy, and rancher Heidi Redd, president of Indian Creek Cattle Company.
Sanjayan eloquently described his love of nature, saying how saving nature has less to do with policy or tactics or developing a new tool for conservation and more to do with “what lies in my heart and I suspect in your hearts as well. … But the real challenge for us is how do we then convince all the other people who will never think the way we do that what we care so much about is actually worth saving?”
The key groups to reach out to, says Sanjayan, are local businesses, rural communities and youth. “If we can talk to people in terms of the values they hold, then we have a better chance of bringing more people into our movement.” His advice is to engage people with empathy, listen with open hearts and be able to hear as much as we want to tell. “We must step back, look at the whole and break the exclusivity of our domain. Unless we do that, then our love for nature can’t help others value it.”
Heidi Redd also spoke of her love of the land. She told the story of her ranch, its history and its importance to her family. Working diligently with The Nature Conservancy, Redd protected the ranch, citing the cowboy saying: “You gotta have sticking to.” After her talk, Rand Wentworth praised landowners like Redd, “who are the hidden heroes of land conservation.”
Wentworth revealed the commonality of everyone at Rally: “We each have our own identity, but, beneath the surface, we are united by common standards, accreditation, a commitment to permanence, and a dedication to conserving the places that matter most.”
Looking into the future, Wentworth said, “In 30 years, we’re not going to be talking about acres and dollars. How we talk about our success will be in the ways we’ve engaged communities, changed lives and invited people into the goodness of our work.”
To Rally sponsors, speakers, faculty, host committee, awards committee, program committee, field trip leaders, regional reception hosts and all participants, the Land Trust Alliance extends its heartfelt thanks. View the lists of Rally supporters and committees, as well as full versions of Rally speeches (audio and video), at www.lta.org/rallyinreview.
At Rally we take time to recognize the best of the hard-working conservationists around the country. The Alliance congratulates these award winners:
- The latest land trusts to achieve accreditation received recognition as they walked across the Opening Plenary stage. View the list of all 181 accredited land trusts at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
- Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award and Kingsbury Browne Fellowship at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy: Peter Stein, managing director, The Lyme Timber Company, New Hampshire
- National Land Trust Excellence Award: Leelanau Conservancy, Michigan, and Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Michigan
- National Conservation Service Award: Wade Martin, senior vice president, The Martin-Rizzo Group at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, New Jersey
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Realty – National Land Protection Award: The Trust for Public Land, California
- President’s Award: David Beaver, National Program Manager, Land and Water Conservation Fund and Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, Bureau of Land Management, Washington, D.C.