Conservation Orgs Brainstorm Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
Recently our president, David Epstein, met with Todd Pride, Managing Director of The Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County, to share ideas about how the two organizations might be able to work together, exchanging experiences and resources and complementing each other’s programs.
Todd drove up from Kennett Township, PA (“the world’s mushroom capital”) to our South Branch Preserve in Mt. Olive, where David showed him around City Green Farm, the community garden, the trails, and other features that showcase our accomplishments over the past four decades. In turn, Pride offered advice and suggestions about his own work in conservation—especially as it pertains to diversity, equity, and inclusion. What started out as a quick tour turned into a 3.5-hour, in-depth conversation about reaching new audiences and crafting innovative programs and events (with some creative social distancing photos snapped here and there along the trail).
For the past year TLCNJ has been working to develop a new five-year strategic plan, which cites diversity as one of its guiding principles. Now that the plan has officially been adopted, the staff and board are exploring ways to make sure they are acting in the interests of justice and inclusion, and that their messages and programs are reaching all nature lovers. This is especially relevant to a community like Mt. Olive, which has become much more culturally diverse over the past decade.
At the end of the day, Todd said, “I’ve been facilitating diversity training and services to students, staff, and leadership of community organizations and businesses for over a decade through managing wildlife training and conservation organizations. I feel that David’s leadership, executive team, and support of the board has the opportunity to open significant channels of diversity to the state’s tremendous green space environments in a major way that is needed even more from the Covid impact. Many organizations and businesses struggle with diversity and TLCNJ’s move to explore partnering to help advance diversity internally and externally provides a stronger platform for success.”
And David agrees. “We are excited to work with leaders like Todd Pride and TLCSCC expand the message of conservation to a wider, more diverse audience.”
Everyone is looking forward to what comes next.