When you see me at the CLCC conference, I’m usually hanging out at the registration tables helping direct you where to go for the next workshop. This year’s virtual format gave me the chance to actually hear the experiences and expertise from our amazing group of presenters. I came away from the conference thinking about the evolution of the conservation movement in years to come.
After we finished up the last of the roundtables, some of the staff went on a hike at the Dismal Brook Wildlife Preserve, protected by the Granby Land Trust. Since I had my 3-year old daughter with me we got to enjoy the time hiking outside. My daughter is very much a little explorer. She loves to leave no leaf unturned, no rock un-jumped. When we came across a section of the trail that had fallen leaves, she wanted to “sweep away” the leaves to clear the path. I joked that she’s ready to sign up as a trail volunteer. Ever since our hike ended, she keeps asking when will we go out for another hike.
One comment that stood out to me came from the NextGen roundtable from Lianna Lee from TerraCorps. She discussed the violent and sad history of the land conservation movement, along with the importance to recognize the joy and sense of community that enjoying the land brings. Holding space for these two truths is critical to ensure the longevity and sustainability of land conservation.
We can’t expect the next generation to have a love for the land without making sure they’re able to access it to play and explore. Acknowledging the discomfort of environmental racism and recognizing its impacts on the BIPOC community is only a first step. Making sure the next generation is also able to develop a love of being outside will be key in moving the conservation movement forward.