Conference 2020 Wrap-Up

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A Different Kind of Conference

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CLCC made the difficult decision to cancel our traditional in-person Connecticut Land Conservation Conference, originally scheduled for March 21.

At the onset of Governor Lamont’s Stay-At-Home Orders, we responded by reaching out to land trusts across the state, determined to meet their needs in this new environment.  As a result, we released a combination of new and re-tooled conference workshops and roundtable discussions through our digital programming, Conserving Land by Staying Connected. After months of planning and reflecting, we shifted this year’s conference to a virtual format, culminating the challenges and opportunities of 2020 with the theme Connecting Dots, Taking Action: The Pandemic, Health, Justice, and Climate Change.

While it may have looked different from previous conferences, this year’s event proved to be a timely and important discussion for the land conservation community.

CT state outline filled with graphics that represent land conservation themes, and the text "40th annual 2024 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference"

Morning Welcome Session

The Chair of CLCC’s Board of Directors Catherine Rawson (Northwest Land Conservation Conservancy) kicked off the conference with brief opening remarks and introduced the first speaker of the day, Mason Trumble, CT DEEP Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Conservation. Mason’s open remarks on “Supply, Demand & Marketing in Land Conservation” touched on the increased use of the state’s outdoor spaces this year and the impacts on these spaces as a result of the pandemic.

Panel Presentation and Discussion

This year’s panel featured Felicia Keesing, David & Rosalie Rose Distinguished Professor of the Sciences, Mathematics, & Computing, Bard College; Sadiya Muqueeth, Director of Community Health, The Trust for Public Land; and Raei Bridges, Founder and CEO of The Rusty Anvil. Each presenter shared their expertise about the pandemic, health impacts of being outside, and the need for access to the outdoors for all.

Following the presentations, CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson and Programs Coordinator Rebecca Dahl facilitated the Q&A portion with questions from the audience.

Lunchtime Q&A

CLCC staff Rebecca Dahl, Yaw Darko, and Cristina Hayden shared a lively discussion with Raquel Rivera, Chef and Owner of A Pinch of Salt. Chef Raquel shared her experiences providing access to healthy and sustainable food and her work with various community groups.

Afternoon Keynote Session

This year’s keynote speaker was none other than Rue Mapp, Founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro. Rue’s presentation covered her background and the journey that led to the creation of Outdoor Afro. Rue was accompanied by two Outdoor Afro leaders, Chaya Harris, Outdoor Afro’s Program Manager from Boston, and Erika Williams, a New Haven Outdoor Afro leader.

After Rue’s presentation, they answered questions from the audience covering a variety of topics relevant to the land conservation community and outdoor access. Read Amy Paterson’s blog post covering Rue Mapp’s presentation and the importance of partnerships »

2020 Excellence in Conservation Awards and Music Performance

The conference capped off the day with the 2020 Excellence in Conservation Awards. Presented annually, the Excellence in Conservation Awards recognizes individuals and organizations who have made lasting contributions to land conservation in the state.

Presented by Catherine Rawson, the 2020 CLCC Excellence in Conservation Organization Award went to the UConn Natural Resources Conservation Academy (NRCA) for their statewide land conservation work, fostering the next generation of conservation stewards. The 2020 Katchen Coley Award for Excellence in Land Conservation went to Dennis Kern, President of the Berlin Land Trust, for his long-term commitment and advocacy of land conservation.

CLCC Board Secretary Eric Hammerling (Connecticut Forest & Park Association) awarded the 2020 CLCC Conservation Hero to Kevin Case, President & CEO of the Mohonk Preserve in New York and former CLCC Board Treasurer, for his steady leadership in the land conservation community across the state. Amy Paterson awarded the 2020 CLCC Lifetime Achievement Award to David Sutherland, Director of Government Relations of The Nature Conservancy - CT Chapter and CLCC Advisory Council member, after a decades long career advocating for land conservation at the state.

After the awards were presented, David then shared his musical talents with conference attendees. He closed out the full-day event serenading the audience with his guitar.

2020 Conference Recordings

Those who registered for the 2020 Connecticut Land Conservation (Virtual) Conference have access to the conference presentations. These recordings are password-protected and will be available thru December 31, 2020.  If you did not originally register for the conference but would like to watch the recordings, access is available with a suggested donation of $25. Contact Cristina Hayden at for more information.

Thank you to our donors and sponsors!

Many of those who originally registered for the 2020 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference in March allowed us to retain their registration fee as a donation toward conference losses, the implementation of Conserving Land by Staying Connected, and other program expenses of CLCC. Thank you to each and every single person who donated their fee! The full list of donors can be found in the conference program here »

This event would not have been possible without the support of the 2020 Conference Sponsors! A huge thank you goes out to all of our sponsors, including our 2020 Conference Patron Eversource Energy

Thirty-eight land trusts joined us this year, including leadership level support from Middlesex Land Trust.

Additional leadership support was provided by:  Aquarion Water Company, Audubon Connecticut, the Connecticut River Gateway Commission, The Conservation Fund, Danosky & Associates, Farm Credit East, Land Trust Alliance, Little Green Light, Nantucket Spider, The Nature Conservancy, and The Trust for Public Land.

See the full list of our 2020 sponsors here, including conservation service providers that are listed in CLCC’s 2020 Service Providers Directory.

2021 Conference

Much like this year’s conference, 2021 will likely look different from previous years. Please contact Amy B. Paterson at or at (860) 614-8537, or Cristina Hayden at, if you have ideas for 2021 and/or would like to be part of our 2021 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference Planning Committee.

The 2020 Conference was a great day! Thanks so much for being a part of it all!

OUR NEXT: Connecticut Land Conservation Conference

We're planning our next conference and we value your input.

Please contact CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson at or at (860) 614-8537, or Operations Manager Cristina Hayden at, if you have ideas for 2021 and/or would like to be part of our 2021 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference Planning Committee.

Previous Conferences

Interested in reading about past conferences? Check out past years' conference wrap-ups…