Conservation: It’s All About the People
As avid readers of People, Places, Parks know, conservation is a long game with many players. Protecting the earth’s land and water, fighting climate change, and safeguarding biodiversity require people from a variety of backgrounds, with diverse expertise and perspectives to achieve shared goals. Some of the most successful partnerships bring together seemingly disparate groups.
It’s not unusual at conservation organizations to find former educators, corporate attorneys and advertising professionals on staff alongside the biologists, ecologists, and foresters. Given the challenges facing our world and the urgent need to rapidly make significant gains this all-hands-on-deck spirit is perhaps more important now than at any time in our history.
As The Nature Conservancy in Georgia’s communications and marketing manager, I get to tell stories about the amazing things my colleagues do every day. This month, I’m proud to use this thought leadership space to share some of their names and allow you to read their words about what inspires them to do the important work of protecting Georgia’s most valued places.
Here’s what program managers said about what inspires them and why they’re wild for Georgia:
Ayanna Williams, healthy cities director: I’m inspired by the opportunity to seek nature-based solutions to challenges like stormwater runoff, air pollution and heat islands in Atlanta. Our work in the South River watershed is uniting area residents, urban design leaders and local governments to revitalize urban streams and forests.
Ashby Worley, coastal resilience manager: I’m wild about the Georgia coast personally and professionally, so the collective efforts to strengthen our coast and care for the ocean are exciting. From natural solutions like living shorelines and wetland restoration to developing tools to help communities plan for flooding, there is a lot of energy and momentum around equipping the coast to handle climate change.
Brant Slay, land protection specialist: I’m inspired by the beauty and historical significance of Georgia’s longleaf pine forests and the role I play in restoring them to their former greatness. I’m wild about Georgia’s biodiversity and the growing number of private landowners on the Chattahoochee Fall Line who are passionate about managing their lands in a way that protects and enhances wildlife.
Chuck Martin, Moody Forest Natural Area manager: In 2001, our joint management of Moody Forest with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources became the state’s first public–private land management partnership. Eighteen years later, I’m inspired by Moody’s ecological importance and how we have continued to grow our collaborative relationships with state and federal agencies.
Erick Brown, fire manager: I’m inspired by the dedicated fire professionals I get to work with each year during prescribed fire season. These men and women are the reason Georgia’s use of prescribed fire to ensure a healthy habitat for plants and animals and to reduce the risk of wildfires became a standard-bearer for other states.
Katie Owens, Upper Coosa River program director: The progress we’re making on aquatic connectivity in the lower Etowah watershed inspires me. Before the end of 2019, we will replace a multi-box culvert on Raccoon Creek in the lower Etowah with a free-standing bridge that will open up fish passage for both the federally endangered Etowah darter and the federally threatened Cherokee darter.
Selena McLaurin, associate director of development: I’m inspired by the passionate advocacy of TNC’s donors and volunteers, many of whom have supported the organization for decades. The generational impact of conservation work is reflected in people who create a legacy of support for us.
Want to learn more about what we’re doing in Georgia? Visit our website to learn about the places we protect.
Marlena Reed is the communications and marketing manager for The Nature Conservancy in Georgia.