Staff attends Southeast Regional Land Trust Alliance Conference for Land and Community Conservation
Every year, land trusts from all over the southeast convene to share ideas and learn from one another. The 2016 Southeast Regional Conference for Land and Community Conservation was held in Birmingham, Alabama. For the week, our staff networked with other land trusts, attended informative workshops, and were inspired by all that is being done for conservation in the southeast. We asked each staff member about their favorite part of the conference:
“One of the key values of our land trust is to support a culture of learning for our staff which leads to increased effectiveness of our organization. We are passionate about our conservation mission and one of the best things about attending Land Trust Alliance conferences is that we get to take a step back from our own organization, network with our peers from around the country who are equally passionate, and gain new inspiration and insights from one another that we carry back with us. A new solution, perspective or practical advice is always just a conversation away at these events. That collective learning from one another, coupled with the excellent workshops that spur the conversations we all have, is what keeps our organizations dynamic and effective all across the country. A wonderful movement to be part of.” -Terri Lane, Executive Director
“I enjoyed learning about how the National Young Farmer’s Coalition is working with land trusts to pair young farmers with affordable farming lands through agriculture easements.” – Alan Edmondson, Land Stewardship Specialist
“This was my first conference with the Land Trust Alliance, and I’m so glad that I was able to attend. For one thing, I was inspired by the shared passion for conservation among the staff from other land trusts. I’m also excited to incorporate storytelling in our communications after hearing some moving stories.” -Sim Barrow, Outreach Coordinator
Now that our staff is back at work, they are excited to resume their duties, armed with new tools and ideas to save land in Northwest Arkansas.
Over 300 Fayetteville Students Discover Kessler Mountain in a New Way
Last month, field trips at the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom and Nature Center resumed with 4th grade students from Happy Hollow and Washington elementary schools. These latest field trips were full of new sights and sounds for the students.
With Spring in full swing, there was no shortage of things to see and do on the education trail. Wildflowers were abundant on the trail with mayapples, larkspur, and Jack in the pulpit in full bloom. The kids took time to listen to the birds singing all around them and counted several different calls. Other “trail celebrities” included a box turtle, Blanchard’s cricket frogs, a garter snake, and many snails.
Inside the nature center, activities continued to engage the students in learning about plant and animal adaptations and erosion. At the end of the activities, the students enjoyed a picnic lunch around the recently planted native plant garden.
In addition to the 4th grade field trips, Walt Manger led a field trip for over 140 5th grade students from McNair Middle School, who spent an entire day in the Outdoor Classroom learning about the unique geology of the Kessler Mountain. This group set the record for highest attendance, but thanks to help from our volunteers, University of Arkansas Geoscience students, teachers and parents, the trip was a huge success!
These field trips concluded the pilot program at the Kessler Outdoor Classroom. The lessons learned from these trips will help us to continue to achieve the mission of the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom and Nature Center: to grow the next generation of conservationists through research, outreach and education. Work will continue through the summer to complete certain parts of the project.
We’re already looking forward to the fall, when all 3rd grade students from Fayetteville Schools will visit Kessler Mountain!
$8.8 million grant awarded for conservation restoration and management in priority area
The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust has long been a partner in prioritizing and protecting the West Fork of the White River Watershed and now a recent multimillion dollar effort to improve water quality through streamside restoration and land conservation is a huge step in that direction.
Watershed Conservation Resource Center (WCRC), a local conservation nonprofit dedicated to the protection, conservation, and restoration of watershed resources, working with the Beaver Watershed Alliance (BWA), competed for and won a $4.3 million grant from the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).
With $4.5 million of funding and in-kind contribution match from multiple partners, including the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, $8.8 million will be invested in this effort over the next five years. The land trust will continue providing conservation easements on important parcels to ensure these improvements will remain in perpetuity.
This project is a major step toward providing improved water quality and wildlife habitat along the West Fork of the White River. We look forward to saving more land in a high-priority area in this growing region. WCRC and its partners are making a great investment for conservation and for the future of Northwest Arkansas and we thank them for their work!
You can read more about the project here.
To find out more about WCRC click here. To find out more about Beaver Watershed Alliance click here.