Despite all that has happened in our world over the last six months, our Connecticut land trusts have continued forging ahead. At the onset of the pandemic, we heard from land trusts all over the state who were rightfully concerned about how the pandemic would impact their fundraising events, educational programming and day-to-day stewardship operations. There was uncertainty shared by all but solidarity in navigating this new landscape together.
New means of communication became key as land trusts were suddenly faced with the obstacles of the pandemice, while receiving an influx of visitors on their preserves who they strived to connect with. Among those who rose to the challenge of this new, more digitized landscape were the land trusts involved in Connecticut Land Conservation Council’s and The Last Green Valley’s Northeast Regional Land Trust Advancement Initiative, a mulit-year project funding by the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.
Prior to the pandemic, four land trusts within this group received small grants to improve their communications toolbox: Northern CT Land Trust, Eastern Connecticut Forest Landowners Association/Wolf Den Land Trust, New Roxbury Land Trust and Joshua’s Trust. Despite the numerous challenges they faced, they held strong resolve to complete these projects. Impressive as that was, it proved to be an even more relevant undertaking when considering our new means of communication and interaction in a COVID-influenced world.
Taking what they learned from individual and group sessions with communications consultant Judy Anderson, three of the land trusts (The New Roxbury Land Trust, Northern CT Land Trust, and the Eastern Connecticut Forest Landowners Association/Wolf Den Land Trust) improved their e-communications and refreshed their websites. Anyone who has undergone a website update knows that this is no small feat, it can be daunting but the outcome is sweet! All three land trusts are now even more equipped to attract new members and communicate their work clearly through their websites and e-communications – something we’ve come to know as a crucial resource now that many more people are seeking ways to enjoy nature, support conservation, and find a trail a little further off the beaten path.
Joshua’s Trust took on a new approach to land stewardship by integrating LANDSCAPE, a new type of software designed for land conservation into their work. Not only will this new program help them to communicate internally with staff and stewardship volunteers, but they will be able to use it as a fundraising tool, communicating stewardship and acquisition goals in an exciting and more seamless means to their members – another crucial task in our increasingly digital world.
Tackling another digital medium, we all met via Zoom on June 23rd, providing an opportunity for the group to convene, present out and share their latest improvements, as well as cultivate a sense of community despite being socially distant. During these unprecedented times we at CLCC relish this opportunity to convene with our land trust community, to celebrate the incredible work they continue to tackle, and to love our Connecticut Land Trusts.
Cheers! To our Northeast Land Trusts and all of those continuing to work for their communities with strength and resilience.