Andrew Bowman during his opening night speech at Rally.
The Fearless Conservation Campaign gets opening night recognition.

Columbia Land Trust attended this year’s Rally conference, the Land Trust Alliance‘s annual gathering of more than a thousand land trusts from around the country. We sent a small delegation to Pittsburgh, PA to learn, share, and of course, have a little fun. The Land Trust was recognized at Rally’s opening reception, with Land Trust Alliance President Andrew Bowman giving a nod to our Fearless Conservation campaign in his address. It was quite an honor for Fearless Conservation to be held up as an example for the entire land trust community—an example that Andrew said resonated with him “at a gut level”.

Thank you Andrew! We are honored and grateful.

Read Andrew’s full speech from Rally.

Lessons Learned

Our team spent the following days attending workshops and talking with others at Rally about the different ways we can challenge ourselves, and be fearless, in order to advance our work.

Columbia Land Trust Stewardship Assistant, Noel Plemmons shared some of his experience at Rally:

“I personally was struck by the number of workshops and conversations addressing inclusivity of people of color and other groups who are underrepresented in conservation. This signaled to me that the most professional of land trusts are taking very seriously the truth that living sustainably on the planet cannot be addressed solely as an environmental issue. Social and environmental justice have to be a part of our missions. If we want to see balance and respect for nature, we have to create balance and respect across society. This made me feel really proud of Columbia Land Trust, its DEI work, and my project with Indigenous peoples. That said, there are other trusts out there that are already partnering with tribes that I’ve learned about and hope to learn more from.”

Conservation Lead Lydia Mendoza also shared her highlights from Rally:

“One reason I love going to Rally is because it is fascinating to see how the land trust movement evolves over time. The land trust community is always trying to find new and better ways to work. This year I was especially excited by the direction that many land trusts are headed.  There was an emphasis on being more inclusive, not only with staff and boards, but with the populations we serve, on deepening our missions to better support our communities, and on connecting ALL people with land in meaningful ways. I heard stories of land trusts partnering with farms to support local hunger relief issues, creating youth conservation services to train the next generation of conservation leaders, redesigning trails and benches to be wheelchair accessible, engaging tribes to co-manage traditional tribal lands, and the list goes on. Despite the challenges conservation currently faces (insurmountable divisions in society, increasing uncertainty with funding sources, just to name a few), I still learned about a lot of new programs and success stories popping up around the country, and I left Rally feeling hopeful. Land trusts everywhere are getting creative, finding new funding sources, and bringing communities together.”

Refreshing perspective and insight on the direction Land Trusts are moving, and new ways in which they are thinking. We are hopeful and excited to see what this shared knowledge brings towards future conservation efforts.