Friday, March 29, 2013

The Wheels on the Bus

By Justin Petty, Associate Director of Philanthropy

The snow around town is all but gone, and the 5 day weather forecast is predicting highs in the low 60’s. Trout have been on the rise, a few low elevation trails close to home have dried out enough to hike, and I find myself staring out my office window wishing I was spending more time outdoors. Before moving to Idaho, I would tell folks that my favorite season was fall, but these days I find the first of the warm months – the first green growth, bird song, sun you can feel in your bones – to be as good as it gets.

I have worked for the Conservancy in Idaho for close to 8 years now, the last 3 in the philanthropy department. The best days on the job are those spent in the field with the individuals that support our work. As the largest conservation organization in the world, The Nature Conservancy is addressing the biggest conservation threats at the largest scale – 119 million acres of land protected globally, thousands of miles of rivers, and over 100 marine programs. From humble beginnings in 1951, today’s Conservancy is a force that I am humbled to be a part of. And none of it would be possible without the commitment of those that donate to fund the work. 

Conservation outing with donors Jane and Tom Oliver.  
Photo ©Clark Shafer/The Nature Conservancy

When the days grow longer, the snow falls less frequent, and I start feeling restless, I know that I have another season in the field with our donors to look forward to. Time spent standing in a creek with a fly rod discussing an important restoration project, floating a river canyon that demonstrates what successful conservation looks like, or hiking a trail with binoculars at the ready. It is during these moments that I hear what others appreciate about the work of the Conservancy, why they invest in protecting lands and waters of ecological and human importance. It’s an opportunity for me to listen and learn. These supporters do not stumble on to the Conservancy, they seek it out because the mission aligns with their values. 

In a couple of weeks I’ll be at The Crooked Creek Preserve with someone who has been a good friend to the Conservancy for decades, viewing Sage Grouse strutting on their leks. His support for the Conservancy, and his interests in conservation, extends well beyond Idaho. We will make our way through the sage brush predawn with stars still in the sky, to shiver in the cold, and wait for the grouse show to begin. And while we wait, Bob will tell me about his travels, his health, and his commitment to places that are important to people and where Sage Grouse dance.

Sage grouse strut. Photo ©Bob Griffith

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