The Nature Conservancy Celebrates 60 Years

By:  Michael Hamm. Chair, Kentucky Board of Trustees

I recently attended the Global Volunteer Leadership Summit, held in Washington on October 12-14, 2011. About 300 Nature Conservancy trustees and state directors attended, so I had the opportunity to talk with lots of people involved with the Conservancy from around the country and the world. I believe we have chapters in 36 countries and several were represented, including China. I had lunch with the directors from our chapters in Mongolia and Australia. Interestingly, the Director of our Mongolian Chapter went from Washington to Oregon to speak with donors.  Apparently, the Oregon Chapter helps subsidize our Mongolian Chapter. Likewise, the Caribbean Chapter recently held its meeting in Maine, as the Maine Chapter, apparently, is heavily involved with helping our Caribbean Chapter.  I hope that at some point down the road, our Kentucky Chapter grows in membership and resources to the point that it can establish a working relationship with one of our overseas chapters.

The Nature Conservancy's Galbadrakh (Gala) Davaa, (on right) Director of Conservation for the Mongolia Program with herder Nanzaddorj Namkhai, a volunteer ranger at the Ugtam Nature Reserve on the vast Mongolian grasslands.

I had the opportunity to attend sessions on Climate Change Adaptation, the Great Rivers Partnership, Reversing Deforestation, and Sustainable Freshwater Infrastructure, and I had the opportunity to hear interesting talks by Mark Tercek, who heads our Arlington office, and Geoff Rochester, who heads our marketing operation.  The Conservancy needs to attract younger members to its ranks, and marketing strategies will concentrate more on social media and other approaches that better reach our younger generations.

Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, addresses guests at the Conservancy's 60th anniversary celebration.

Some attendees came early to Washington to lobby with members of Congress in the hope that critical federal conservation and environmental programs will be cut proportionally to other budget cuts and not zeroed out. The loss of federal revenue will make financing key projects all the more difficult.

About 500 attended the reception and dinner on the final night in the marvelous Great Hall of The Building Museum.  Edmund O. Wilson, the Father of Sociobiology, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar addressed the crowd.  Among those in attendance were the Ambassador to the U.S. from Mexico and Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Rob Portman (R-OH).


Attendees celebrate 60 years.
Attendees celebrate 60 years of conservation with TNC.


All in all, this meeting gave me a better sense of how actively the Conservancy is involved around the world, and it gave me a better sense of how our organization is run. We are pragmatists, and we work well with industry and with various state and federal agencies. I’ve been a Trustee of the Kentucky Chapter for several  years, but I’m still learning about the complex strategies that we must utilize in organizing and financing our wonderful conservation projects.