Conservation Community Culture

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Posted by Administrator at 08/04/2023

by Robert Campbell, Communications Specialist, WeConservePA

I’ve recently celebrated one year of working full time in conservation communications after many years in education and the arts. One theme (among many inspirational lessons) that’s emerged has been the innovative and healthy professional community and culture that I see working in conservation in Pennsylvania.

Part of my job includes having the opportunity to watch conservation stories develop and unfold across the commonwealth. I see story after story of conservation projects being completed, easements established, watersheds preserved, agricultural preservation successes, new parks and trails, and so much more. In all this good work, the theme of an innovative and healthy conservation community emerges again and again.

Almost every time land is conserved in Pennsylvania, a collaborative team of local stakeholders, private nonprofit land trusts, municipal government representatives, national or international conservation organizations, and state agencies (often DCNR or the Department of Agriculture) are involved, or at least some combination of 2-3 of those. It’s quite rare for me to encounter a story about conserved land that involves only one entity. Collaboration creates healthy community. And collaboration is everywhere in Pennsylvania conservation circles.

Another lucky aspect of my job is getting to watch the stories of Pennsylvania’s conservation organizations unfold on the web, through news outlets, and via social media. There, too, I continually see healthy community culture at work. Conservation folks tend to be meticulously aware of what everyone else is doing to advance the cause of conservation. They like each other’s posts, share each other’s accomplishments with sincere compliments, and hype each other up with affectionate support in their communications efforts. They attend one another’s professional development offerings and publicize them in their own social media feeds. We don’t just collaborate because we’re told to; we believe in it, we commit to it, and we get results with it.

When a spirit of competition is replaced with a spirit of support in the nonprofit sector, that also creates community. Building healthy community within our larger industry is more than just a feel good story; it’s innovative, forward-leaning best practice. Our accomplishments multiply when we work together. Simply put, we get more conservation done this way.

We face major challenges in this arena as we look to the future and face the looming impacts of climate change. Time is of the essence; if we are to truly preserve the beautiful natural world around us for future generations to enjoy, we must continue to do so with a sense of collaborative and supportive purpose. As it so often does in all the conservation-affiliated professional communities, Pennsylvania is leading by example in this arena too. No one supports their friends and neighbors in this work quite so well--and quite so genuinely--as we do in Pennsylvania. We build each other up here, and we conserve together. I see that every day in my work, and it gives me hope.