2015 CT Land Conservation Conference: Post-Conference Wrap-up

2015 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference

Another record breaker … in attendance, support and weather!
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow ... snow ... & more snow, were enough to deter over 400 dedicated conservationists from attending the 2015 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference at Wesleyan University on March 21.  Breaking all time records in attendance and sponsorship support, the 2015 Conference was nothing short of extraordinary. 

The Welcome Address
Although we started a few minutes late due to the weather, CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson got us back on schedule with a short introduction and welcome address.  Amy congratulated the conservation community for their successful work in 2014, including recognition of Colchester Land Trust, Granby Land Trust, the Housatonic Valley Association, Lyme Land Conservation Trust, Sharon Land Trust and Warren Land Trust for achieving accreditation, as well as Salem Land Trust for earning reaccreditation -- bringing the total number of accredited CT land trusts to thirteen!  She thanked everyone for their continued hard work in conserving land throughout the state, including over 2200 acres protected with support from DEEP’s Open Space & Watershed Land Acquisition Program (OSWA).  

Call to Action for Land Conservation & Conservation Hero Award
Amy invited up CLCC Policy & Advocacy Committee Chair, Eric Hammerling (Executive Director, Connecticut Forest & Park Association, CLCC’s fiscal sponsor) to describe some of the serious Budget challenges to the programs that are critical to our conservation work.  Joined by members of the CLCC Steering Committee, Eric announced CLCC’s 2015 Call to Action for Land Conservation and urged everyone to contact their State Legislators during the week of March 23, asking for their support for land conservation programs.

In recognition of Eric’s outstanding leadership and advocacy on behalf of the conservation community, the Steering Committee awarded him a Conservation Hero Award.  Congrats, Eric!

Annual Excellence in Conservation Awards Ceremony
Joining Amy at the podium were CLCC Steering Committee Chair Alicia Sullivan (Trust for Public Land) and newly appointed Vice-Chair, Catherine Rawson (Weantinoge Heritage Land Trust) to present the annual Excellence in Conservation Awards. Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 CLCC Excellence in Conservation Organization Award:  The Connecticut Farmland Trust and Sharon Land Trust for the successful planning and preservation of the Wike Brothers Farm in Sharon and the Simsbury Land Trust and the Town of Simsbury for its protection of the George Hall Farm.

We next honored two outstanding conservationists with the Katchen Coley Award for Excellence in Land Conservation.  Named in honor and memory of longtime CLCC Steering Committee member Katchen Coley (1924-2013), the 2015 award was given to Bill Arnold, president of Kent Land Trust, for his decades of service advancing conservation locally and statewide. Honorable Mention went to Boardman (Barney) Kathan, founder and current treasurer of the Prospect Land Trust, for his many years of land conservation service. 

A Special Initiative Award went to the Northern Fairfield Land Trust Coalition (Bethel Land Trust, Brookfield Open Space Legacy, The Land Trust of Danbury, New Fairfield Land Trust, Newtown Forest Association and Land Conservancy of Ridgefield) for its innovative and collaborative efforts to enhance conservation and engage with the communities in the northern Fairfield region.

Full descriptions of all award recipients may be found in the 2015 Conference Program, available HERE.

The Keynote Address
Following the awards ceremony, Amy had the distinct pleasure and honor to introduce our 2015 keynote speaker, Juan D. Martinez, who flew all the way from Los Angeles just to participate in the conference.  The Director of Leadership Development and Natural Leaders Network for the Children and Nature Network, Juan delivered a powerful and personal presentation on the topic of Building a Community that Cares About Conservation Over Generations, sharing his own story of overcoming adversity and building a life to make our environment better for generations to come. You can read more about Juan in the 2015 Conference Program HERE as well as on his website HERE.  

Workshops and Roundtables
The 2015 conference curriculum included 30 workshops, 3 half-day seminars and several lunchtime roundtable options. Over 70 faculty members, comprised of national and state experts, federal and state officials, Connecticut land trust volunteers and staff, and even a panel of exceptional high school students, volunteered their time and expertise in leading sessions throughout the day.  Detailed descriptions of each of the workshops and faculty bios may be found in the Conference program HERE. Electronic versions of many of the presentations are available HERE.

We were honored to have the following members of the Connecticut General Assembly Environment Committee serve as panelists in the Public Policy 2015 Update, facilitated by Eric Hammerling:  Senator Ted Kennedy, Jr. (Co-Chair), Representative James Albis (Co-Chair), Senator Clark J. Chapin (Ranking Member), Representative Mary M. Mushinsky, Representative Roberta Willis, and Representative Melissa H. Ziobron.

Thank you 2015 Conference Sponsors
The success of this year’s conference would not have been possible without the strong support of an unprecedented number of financial and in-kind sponsors, including 34 land trusts.  Our leadership level sponsors were the Land Trust Alliance and The Geoffrey C. Hughes Foundation, with support from the latter including conference scholarships --enabling 10+ high school, college and graduate students to attend the Conference at no cost.

Thanks also to our other major sponsors:   Alliant Insurance; Audubon CT; Bafflin Foundation; Connecticut Forest & Park Association, Danosky & Associates; Eversource Energy; Farm Credit East, ACA; GEI Consultants, Inc.; The Nature Conservancy, and The Trust for Public Land. 

And to the many others found HERE, including Conservation Service Providers that are listed in CLCC’s 2015 Service Provider Directory available HERE.

Conference Planning Committee and Volunteers
Thank you to our outstanding all volunteer Conference Planning Committee (all of whom also served as Event day volunteers):  David Brown, Margot Burns, Robert DiPietro, Connie Manes, Madeline McClave, Elisabeth Moore, Shirley Nichols, Tom ODell, Catherine Rawson, Gail Kalison Reynolds, Sarah Shrewsbury, Humphrey Tyler, and Rebecca Washburn. 

Additional volunteers who pitched in to make the day a success included Sandy Breslin, Thomas Hayden, Elaine LaBella, Kirsten Pratt Marino, Ashley McCann, Gordon Paterson, Alicia Sullivan, and John Weedon.

Special thanks goes to:   Cristina Gastador (CLCC), Marty Gosselin (CFPA), and Madeline McClave (New Hartford Land Trust), for their time and services in preparing the brochure, program, posters and other conference print materials; CLCC Steering Committee member Humphrey Tyler (Lyme Land Conservation Trust) for spearheading our 2015 Sponsorship Program; CLCC Steering Committee member Elisabeth Moore (Connecticut Farmland Trust) for assisting with reception planning; and  CLCC Steering Committee member David Brown (Middlesex Land Trust), for his “whatever you need – whatever it takes” support throughout the day.

2015 Conference Photos
Photos taken from the 2015 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference can be found on our Facebook page HERE. Feel free to tag yourselves in any photos!

2016 Connecticut Land Conservation Conference
Planning has already begun for the 2016 Annual Conference and we value your input.  Please contact CLCC Executive Director Amy B. Paterson at abpaterson@ctconservation.org or at (860) 685-0785 if you have ideas for 2016 and/or would like to be part of our 2016 Annual Conference Planning Committee. 

The 2015 Conference was truly a special day! Thanks so much for being a part of it all!