2017 CT Land Conservation Conference: Post-Conference Wrap-up

2017 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference


Thank you, Mother Nature! 

With a blizzard earlier in the week and predictions for more wintry weather on Saturday, Mother Nature came through for us, clearing the way for close to 450 conservationists from across Connecticut and beyond to join us at Wesleyan University for the 2017 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference. 

The Welcome Address and Call to Action

CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson kicked off the day with a short welcome address and call to action.  An excerpt is as follows:

Last week we joined our statewide partners in organizing Community Investment Act Lobby Day at the Capitol.  Many of you battled traffic and parking to make the trek to Hartford to participate and we thank you for that.  We are grateful for the many legislators in attendance too, voicing their support for this critical source of state funding for open space, farmland, historic preservation and affordable housing. 

Make no mistake.  They were there because of you.  They appreciate all you do, and want to hear from you.  Your land conservation work is beyond impressive!  And now is a really good time to be sharing your land conservation success stories and experiences with your elected officials.

Next week we’re organizing our annual call to action in support of land conservation.  We’ve included a flyer in your packet.  Take a look and then take action!  Making contact with your legislators only takes a minute or two, but it can have an enormous impact.

View the Call to Action and links to more details HERE.

Excellence in Conservation Awards Ceremony

The CLCC Excellence in Conservation Awards are presented annually at the Conference, recognizing organizations and individuals who have made a substantive contribution to the ongoing success of land conservation in our state.  Full descriptions of all award recipients may be found in the 2017 Conference Program, available HERE.

Presented by CLCC Steering Committee Chair, Catherine Rawson (Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust), the 2017 CLCC Excellence in Conservation Organization Award went to Chester Land Trust for their work on the Constance Baker Motley Preserve Project and to the Richard H. Goodwin Trail Committee for their organization and development of the Richard H. Goodwin Trail. 

Following the organizational award presentations, CLCC Steering Committee Vice-Chair Chuck Toal (Colchester Land Trust) honored two individuals with the Katchen Coley Award for Excellence in Land Conservation.  Named in honor and memory of longtime CLCC Steering Committee member Katchen Coley (1924-2013), the 2017 award was presented to Vikki Reski for her volunteer efforts in rebuilding the Wintonbury Land Trust into a local and regional leader in conservation and to Harry White for his decades of innovative conservation work with and for land trusts in Northwest CT and beyond.

Amy wrapped up the awards ceremony by presenting a Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the CLCC Steering Committee to Alicia Sullivan.  The immediate past chair of the CLCC Steering Committee. Alicia has been an instrumental force for land conservation in Connecticut for the past 18 years through her work at the Trust for Public Land.

Read more about our outstanding 2017 award winners in the Conference Program HERE.

The Keynote Address:  Where Do We Go From Here? Using Land to Help Unify Communities and Find Community Ground

Amy had the distinct pleasure of introducing Bilal Dabir Sekou, Ph.D. as the 2017 keynote speaker.  Here's an excerpt from Amy’s introduction:

Two of the biggest perks of driving around the state as much as I do, are: 1.  I get to visit with you and support you in your land conservation work; and 2.  I get to listen to NPR.  This past year, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Dr. Bilal Sekou interviewed on Where We Live – on several occasions – during the Presidential campaign. 

Dr. Sekou is an Associate Professor of Political Science in Hillyer College at the University of Hartford. His research interests are race and politics, urban politics, and campaigns, elections, and voting behavior. He has published articles on social and political participation by African Americans and public attitudes toward quality and integrated education in Connecticut.

You’ll notice that “land conservation” isn’t listed as one of his interests; but I was intrigued.  I was especially interested in hearing about his students’ reactions to the debates and the election, how he talked with them in response to the same, and his insights into the issues that drive millennials to take action and get involved. 

As we state in our Strategic Plan, CLCC believes that “ to be successful in the long term, protected land must be valued by a broad and diverse cross section of our society; and, to that end, we have a responsibility to listen to, learn from, and engage everyone in the communities we serve.”

We are doing that; but we can do more.  And land trusts and the conservation community are uniquely suited to help bridge divides and unify communities – at a time when it is sorely needed. 

I am honored to introduce Dr. Bilal Sekou to lead us in that discussion.

Dr. Sekou’s address was provocative and compelling as he described the challenges we face as conservationists and environmentalists, particularly at the federal level.  He challenged us to look for opportunities to diversify our membership and enhance our conservation impact by listening and responding to community needs.  His message ended on a note of optimism, encouraging us to focus less on what divides us politically and more on what we can all agree upon: making sure we have clean air and water; keeping our public lands accessible to all; incentivizing renewable energy; and ensuring a healthy environment for the next generation.  Dr. Sekou’s talk was followed by a Q&A with members of our audience. 

Workshops and Roundtables

The 2017 Conference curriculum featured 44 workshops, lead by over 90 faculty members, comprised of national and state experts, federal and state officials, and Connecticut land trust volunteers and staff.  Detailed descriptions of each of the workshops and faculty bios may be found in the Conference program HERE. Electronic versions of many of the presentations are available HERE.

And to top off our list of stellar speakers, Senator Richard Blumenthal popped in during lunch and spoke both formally and informally to our attendees in both lunchrooms, while Congresswoman  Elizabeth Esty addressed the crowd during the post-Conference networking reception.  We were so honored to have them join us and thank them for their leadership in protecting and defending our environment.

Thank you 2017 Conference Sponsors

We strive to keep the event as affordable as possible and we could not do it without the strong support of our Sponsors.  A huge thanks to all of our sponsors, including our 2017 Conference Patron, Eversource Energy, whose generosity enabled us to provide scholarships to 10 students,   Additional scholarships were provided by South Central Regional Water Authority and the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, enabling first-time land trust and conservation commission attendees from towns located within their respective service areas to participate in the Conference. 

Thirty land trusts joined us this year as sponsors, including leadership level support from Aspetuck Land Trust and Middlesex Land Trust. 

Additional leadership support was provided by Alliant Insurance; Audubon Connecticut; Connecticut Forest & Park Association; Danosky & Associates; Farm Credit East; GEI Consultants, Inc.; Land Trust Alliance The Nature Conservancy; and The Trust for Public Land.  Please check ou a list of all 2017 Sponsors HERE, including Conservation Service Providers that are listed in CLCC’s 2017 Service Provider Directory available HERE.

Conference Planning Committee and Volunteers

Thank you to members of our outstanding volunteer Conference Planning Committee, all of whom also served as event day volunteers:  David Brown, Margot Burns, Ann Courcy, Drew Iacovazzi, Connie Manes, Madeline McClave, Elisabeth Moore, Shirley Nichols, Tom Odell, Catherine Rawson, Sarah Shrewsbury, David Sutherland, Humphrey Tyler, and Rebecca Washburn . 

Additional volunteers who pitched in to make the day a success included Abby Armington, Jaleen Barr, Lana Bluege, Jeff Cameron, Sarah Case, Kim Cartwright, Ann Courcy, Daniel Feener, Tom Finnegan, Derek Gnitzcavich, Andrea Hammerling, Thomas Hayden, Riley Hays, Sara Mandelbaum, Ida McGhee, Gordon Paterson, Jenny Royer, Alicia Sullivan, Dongbinh Tran, Edna Williams, and Emma Ziff.

Special thanks goes to: Cristina Hayden, Marty Gosselin, and Madeline McClave, for their time and services in preparing the brochure, program, posters and other Conference print materials; Humphrey Tyler and Drew Iacovazzi for spearheading our 2017 Sponsorship Program; Catherine Rawson, Connie Manes, Elisabeth Moore, and Shirley Nichols for assisting with reception planning; and David Brown for his amazing “whatever you need – whatever it takes – I’m here to help” support throughout the day.

2017 Conference Photos

Photos taken from the 2017 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference can be found on our Facebook page HERE. Feel free to tag yourselves in any photos!

2018 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference

Planning has already begun for the 2018 Annual Conference and we value your input.  Please contact CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson at abpaterson@ctconservation.org or at (860) 614-8537 if you have ideas for 2018 and/or would like to be part of our 2018 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference Planning Committee. 

The 2017 Conference was a great day! Thanks so much for being a part of it all!

Click HERE to view the 2017 Conference Webpage.