Welcome to 2016

by David Phemister, State Director for The Nature Conservancy’s Kentucky Chapter

Welcome to 2016! Time keeps marching on, seemingly a little faster each year. In just a few days, kids will be back at school, and most of the rest of us will be back at work, wading into the pile of tasks we agreed back in December to tackle in the New Year.

However, today is a day for rest and reflection, to examine the passing of time and resolve to improve ourselves, our families, our communities and our planet. While most of us might have trouble sticking to our resolutions, I am a firm believer in the value of writing them down and sharing them with friends and families – not only to keep one honest but also to enlist their help.

Here are my two resolutions for 2016:

Spend more Time Outside with my Family

I wish I could say that working for The Nature Conservancy is filled with days spent walking through the woods. While some of our staff are lucky enough to enjoy an “outdoor office,” others (me included) spend most of our days inside at a computer, on the phone or in meetings. While I love my job, I resolve to get outside more to remind myself why I work for The Nature Conservancy in the first place.

David and Son

In 2015, my wife, two young kids, and I canoed the Green River, camped in the Red River Gorge, hiked at the Dupree and Sally Brown nature preserves in the Kentucky River Palisades, swam in the Atlantic Ocean and listened to barred owls call from the dense swamp forests of Congaree National Park in South Carolina. It is a good list that I hope will grow in 2016.

Phemister Daughter and Son

I want my kids to see the waterfall at Bad Branch Nature Preserve, canoe the Rockcastle River and explore the cypress swamps of western Kentucky. They need to  camp in the snow – lighting a fire on a freezing morning and standing close for warmth as a late winter sunrise lightens the eastern sky. I hope they find snakes, spot birds, watch monarchs feed, and see a bear. They are already falling in love with the natural world. I resolve to keep taking them out again and again and watch that love deepen.

Phemister Daughter

Embrace the Power of Diversity

One of the Conservancy’s core values is our Commitment to Diversity:

We recognize that conservation is best advanced by the leadership and contributions of men and women of diverse backgrounds, beliefs and cultures. We will recruit and mentor staff to create an inclusive organization that reflects our global character.   

As an organization, we are taking a number of steps, both large and small, to increase the diversity of our staff and volunteer boards and to create a culture that not only welcomes diversity but recognizes and harnesses the power of diversity to make us a stronger and more effective organization. I firmly believe in and support these efforts not only because they are fundamentally important to the health and effectiveness of our organization, but because all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or homeland – need nature to sustain and enrich their lives.

Diversity 1

Our work in Kentucky, especially in Louisville, increasingly draws us into diverse communities where we are listening more than talking, forming friendships and learning a lot. I feel fortunate that we have these opportunities and resolve to embrace the power of diversity to make a real difference – in Louisville, across Kentucky and around the world.

What are your resolutions for 2016?  Are you hoping to connect with nature through volunteering?  Do you want to do more to help conserve clean water, healthy wildlife habitat, and beautiful outdoor spaces in Kentucky? We’d love to hear from you!