From The President’s Desk

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As I hung my plastic name badge around my neck and tucked the program booklet into my bag at the 31st annual Land Trust Alliance Rally in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, I didn’t really know what to expect - but I was looking forward to finding out!

What, you may ask, is Rally? It’s the name for the annual conference of the Land Trust Alliance, which is a nationwide land conservation

organization representing over 1000 member land trusts. How big is Rally? It’s big! Over 2000 attendees attended 130 educational sessions over the course of three days. And that doesn’t even include the receptions, the field trips to local nature preserves, or the morning group runs or yoga sessions!

At Rally, a fellow WLT board member and I attended workshops and presentations with staff and board members from land trusts around the country. Some were from large operations protecting many thousands of acres with the help of multiple full-time staff and million-dollar budgets. Many others were from small, all-volunteer organizations like ours. But we shared a common mission: to protect land – fields, forests, farmland, watersheds and waterways – to enhance our communities’ quality of life.

The workshops and presentations I attended turned out to be both practical and inspiring – often at the same time! There were concrete tips on drafting conservation easements and updating website design, and there were big-picture reflections on how land conservation and a shared love for the outdoors might serve to bridge some of our country’s current political, social, and cultural divides (with some thought-provoking hard data to back those ideas up). As inspiring as the educational programming, however, was the passion and dedication of my fellow attendees. It was great to see familiar faces from the Connecticut conservation community (which, by the way, was out in force!), but also rewarding and fun to meet people from all over the country who share the same concerns, successes, and challenges – to learn from their experiences and to discuss ours.

By the time that I filed away my name tag and Rally program, I’d picked up more than a few suggestions and ideas to bring back home and put into practice at the WLT. Even more valuable – and energizing and exciting - was a greater sense of the scale of the land conservation community and its commitment to protecting the landscapes and outdoor traditions we all love. So you can bet that I’ll be looking forward to donning my nametag and picking up my program at Rally 2019!

Rebecca Neary

Warren Land Trust