Category Archives: News

Environmental Education Internship Available for Fall Semester

Help us raise the next generation of conservationists while gaining valuable land conservation experience as NWALT’s Environmental Education Intern

Applications are now being accepted for NWALT’s Environmental Educator Internship in the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom & Nature Center. We are seeking an energetic and knowledgeable education intern to help us expand the Kessler Outdoor Classroom program. The intern will lead field trips for local schools and community groups, develop new exhibits, and perform regular upkeep of the facilities. Applicants should have a strong interest in environmental education and an interest in working with kids. Relevant coursework in biology, environmental science or related field is preferred.

This internship is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience in environmental education in a nonprofit setting. Internship credits may be available for college students. Read the Classroom Internship Advertisement for information about how to apply. Contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org or call 479-966-4666 to ask questions.

Support for this internship is provided by the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association and the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust.

3 Years – 5,000 Acres Campaign

We’re taking a bold step to protect land in Northwest Arkansas. Join us as we embark on this new challenge, together.

Northwest Arkansas Land Trust’s 5,000 Acre Campaign – by 2021:

  • Save 5,000 acres of important natural areas
  • Raise $2.8 million dollars in community support
  • Contribute over 1,600 volunteer hours to care for the land
  • Open at least 6 new properties to the public

“The goal of the campaign is to proactively protect and steward those landscapes which provide the greatest public benefit to our region”, says Terri Lane, executive director.

How will land be protected?

First, we rely heavily on conservation-minded landowners, just as we have for the past 15 years. The vast majority of high-value conservation land is privately held.  The land trust works with willing landowners to find a conservation path that works best for them. This includes land donations, conservation easements and other arrangements.

In some cases, however, the only way to save key properties is to buy them. Through this campaign, the land trust will establish a land acquisition fund to quickly act on the purchase of vulnerable lands.

Land owned by the land trust is permanently protected as preserves. The land trust also sometimes facilitates the purchase of properties to be owned by a city and permanently protected by a conservation easement and stewardship collaboration with the land trust.

Where will protected lands be?

The majority of land will be in Benton and Washington counties, the two most rapidly urbanizing counties in Northwest Arkansas. The land trust will continue to work with landowners in all counties throughout our service region.

The land trust focuses on “landscape scale” conservation, an approach that maximizes public benefit by protecting whole landscapes. Our priority landscapes protect drinking water, wildlife habitat, local food and farms, outdoor recreation and scenic resources.

Our goals are also strategically aligned with the Northwest Arkansas Open Space Plan. The Plan identifies areas throughout Benton and Washington counties that are most important for conservation. The land trust is one of the leading partners in developing and implementing the Plan which serves as a valuable tool for smart growth in our region.

How will people be involved on the land?

Connecting people to the land is a critical part of our mission. The land trust regularly schedules volunteer efforts, citizen science opportunities, programs through the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom, and other “on-the-land” events.

“Through this campaign, we are excited to develop trails and public access on several land trust preserves, and to further ramp up our outreach and volunteer efforts”, says Sim Barrow, communications and outreach manager for the land trust.

The land trust takes a holistic approach to land conservation. “We believe that good land stewardship starts with knowing what is there”, says Alan Edmondson, land stewardship specialist for the land trust. By documenting the condition of the land – including plants, animals and any sensitive habitats – we can protect, honor and highlight those features for the future. Volunteers, interns and land trust members are key to these efforts.

How can I support the campaign?

This is a bold campaign that will require the participation and support of the community – individuals, corporations, and community partners.

A generous grant through the Walton Family Foundation allowed the land trust to increase its staff capacity to pursue the campaign, but community match must be raised for operational support, and the grant does not directly fund the purchase of land. Help us raise $2.8 million!

Support the 5,000 Acre Campaign. Donate Today!

 

 

 

Now Hiring – Campaign Manager Application Deadline Extended

As our region continues to grow, so too must the land trust. The need is greater than ever to save and steward land in Northwest Arkansas. The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust offers competitive wages, flexible work policies and a collaborative work environment. We believe in providing professional development opportunities that strengthen the organization from within. We strive to hire and retain people who are passionate about our work, who seek excellence in their personal and professional development, and who fit the collaborative culture of our workplace.

NOW HIRING: CAMPAIGN MANAGER – Application Deadline May 18, 2018

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust seeks highly qualified applicants for the development position of Campaign Manager (CM). The CM is responsible for planning, organizing, and directing all of NWALT’s fundraising efforts including the major gifts program, annual fund, planned giving, special events, capital campaigns and grants.  The CM works closely with the Executive Director, Communications & Outreach Manager, and Board of Directors in all development and fundraising endeavors.  The position requires quick development of a comprehensive knowledge of the land trust’s policies, procedures, operations, programs, partnerships, and core values.

The following personal and professional attributes are essential for this position:

  • Passionate and authentic interest in land conservation and embrace the mission of the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust.
  • Excellent team player with strong work ethic, flexible attitude and ability to work both independently and collaboratively.
  • Have the desire to get out of the office and build external relationships throughout the region.
  • Be a “self-starter”, organized and goal driven to initiate donor visits and fundraising calls.
  • Possess the skills and ability to work with and motivate staff, board members and other volunteers.

RESPONSIBILITIES & SCOPE

The CM is an experienced development professional responsible for providing the vision, leadership and successful implementation of NWALT’s fundraising program, including but not limited to the following functions:

  • Meet with, and/or arrange meetings of the Executive Director with prospective donors and supporters on a continual basis to establish and maintain effective relationships
  • Grow a major gifts program including identification, cultivation and solicitation of major donors
  • Oversee grant administration including research, proposal writing, and reporting requirements
  • Build the planned giving program with a focus on deferred gifts such as bequest expectancies
  • Direct the annual fund program, including mailings and annual fundraising drives
  • Direct capital campaigns
  • Coordinate fundraising special events as decided
  • Coordinate with Communications & Outreach Manager regularly to establish fundraising messaging strategies, timelines and online giving campaigns
  • Make public appearances to share information about the land trust as needed
  • Engage Board Communications and Development Committee in ongoing fundraising efforts
  • Oversee fundraising database and donor tracking systems
  • Oversee creation of publications to support fundraising activities
  • Maintain donor appreciation, gift recognition and gift acknowledgement program
  • Perform other related duties as requested

The CM reports to the Executive Director, and works closely with her, the Board of Directors, and with the Communications & Outreach Manager toward meeting NWALT’s annual fundraising objectives.

REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • 5+ years of professional fundraising experience in the nonprofit sector
  • Knowledge and experience to envision, grow and manage a comprehensive development program
  • Successful grant writing experience
  • Ability to authentically communicate the value of land conservation
  • Experience managing efficient fund development systems in a growing nonprofit, and developing effective processes
  • Experience coordinating social network messages (including Twitter and Facebook) and creating effective external communications materials that support the organizations fundraising appeals
  • Excellent verbal and exceptional writing and proofreading skills
  • Technical proficiency with a wide range of business software including such programs as Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, QuickBooks, donor tracking software, and desktop publishing
  • Strong attention to detail and organizational skills
  • Ability to drive multiple projects to completion independently and as part of a team
  • Sincere commitment to work collaboratively with all constituent groups, including staff, board members, volunteers, donors, partners and other supporters
  • Supervisory experience with demonstrated ability to lead and motivate others
  • Willingness to work occasional irregular hours, including weekends, evenings and/or holidays

Applicants who do not demonstrate the above required qualifications will not be considered.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

  • Knowledge of leading trends and best practices in non-profit fundraising
  • Familiarity with charitable tax law
  • Experience working with donors and foundations in Northwest Arkansas

PAY AND BENEFITS:

  • Salary commensurate with experience and demonstrated skills (up to $52,000)
  • Paid holidays, vacation, sick and personal leave
  • Health and retirement benefits to be decided
  • Professional memberships and training encouraged and paid for by the Land Trust

 HOW TO APPLY

 All applications must be received by 5pm Central Time, May18, 2018. The successful applicant must meet or exceed the minimum qualifications outlined above.

 Email Terri Lane, Executive Director, tlane@nwalandtrust.org:

  • Indicate your interest in the Campaign Manager position in the subject line
  • Provide resume and detailed cover letter highlighting your interest and relevant experience
  • Provide three references who can speak to your fundraising experience

Applicants selected for interview will be asked to supply additional materials, including but not limited to a donor solicitation letter and grant application or final report they have personally produced.

The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We encourage applicants from all cultures, races, colors, religions, sexes, national or regional origins, ages, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, military, protected veteran status or other status protected by law.

50 Acres on Washington Mountain Permanently Protected

Leflar Easement Preserves Land in Greater Kessler Mountain Conservation Priority Area

An additional 50 acres in Fayetteville has been forever protected thanks to Rob and Charles Leflar, who together donated a conservation easement with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust. The property, which is adjacent to Finger Park in South Fayetteville, is made up of mixed hardwood forest on Washington Mountain. The steep slopes, sandstone bluffs and forest create valuable wildlife habitat and protect water quality in the Beaver Lake and Illinois River watersheds by providing the natural service of slowing the flow of surface water and allowing it to filter into the ground. It also protects the scenic viewshed behind urban development along MLK Boulevard.

The Leflar Easement falls within our Greater Kessler Mountain Priority Conservation Area, which is made up of Washington, Kessler, Stevenson and Miller mountains. The property, which is ranked in the Northwest Arkansas Open Space Plan, is part of NWALT’s vision to protect core habitat on these mountains. Core habitats serve an important role for native plants and animals, which depend on large tracts of land to meet their seasonal needs. The need for places like this will only increase as the climate continues to change. The Leflar property, with its north-facing aspect and sandstone bluffs, will provide important refuge for plants and animals as their environment changes. The preservation of this and other landscapes in our region is a key tool for creating a climate resilient landscape.

By protecting this largely undeveloped area in South Fayetteville, we can save a place for wildlife and plant diversity in our community in the face of rapid growth in the surrounding area. In turn, we will benefit from healthy, functioning ecosystems that continue to provide clean air and water, fertile soil, and quality of life for the region. We thank Rob and Charles Leflar for their lifelong support for local land conservation and for forever protecting their land with us.

If you would like to learn more about conserving your land with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, contact info@nwalandtrust.org.

200 Acres Preserved in the Illinois River Watershed

200 Acres of Farmland in Illinois River Watershed Permanently Protected through a Conservation Easement

We’re proud to announce that 200 acres of farm and forest in the Illinois River Watershed have been forever protected by the Davis Family, who recently donated a conservation easement on their property. The Smith Family Farm, named for Melinda Davis’ family who has lived on the property for over 80 years, is located along the Illinois River near Siloam Springs, which is under intense development pressure as the urban core of Northwest Arkansas continues to expand outward. By placing their land into a conservation easement with the land trust, the Davis family is forever preserving their legacy and the land they love.

The Smith Family Farm, which is highly-ranked in the NWA Open Space Plan, is a definite win for conservation in the region. The property also falls within our Illinois Headwaters Corridor Priority Area. This priority area, which connects the largely undeveloped Greater Kessler Mountain Priority Area to the U.S. Forest Service’s Wedington Wildlife Management Area, allows for necessary movement of wildlife between the two core natural areas. Through the preservation of properties like the Davis Family Farm, we are protecting water quality in the Illinois River, encouraging healthy wildlife habitat, and preserving the family farms and rural heritage of the region. Thanks to the Davis family, their land will continue to provide these benefits to the region for many generations to come –  a true benefit to the community.

If you would like to learn more about conserving your land with the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, contact info@nwalandtrust.org.

NWALT Joins the 118th Christmas Bird Count

Volunteers Survey Birds as Part of Nationwide Citizen Science Program

Birdwatchers look for birds at the Historic Johnson Pear Farm during the Christmas Bird Count

On Sunday December 17, several volunteers joined land trust staff to participate in the Christmas Bird Count (CBC), America’s longest-standing citizen-science program. The CBC, which first began in 1900, is organized by the Audubon Society and takes place across the country. The Christmas Bird Count has a rich history of bird conservation and research. As part of its biomonitoring program, the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust led a team of birders to survey NWALT-conserved properties within the Fayetteville Count Circle.

The NWALT team surveyed five properties and covered a wide variety of habitats. Two riparian restoration projects along the West Fork of the White River yielded waterfowl, belted kingfishers and great blue herons. At the Historic Johnson Farm, the team observed golden-crowned kinglets flitting from branch to branch in the old pear orchards and enjoyed hot cider and cookies, provided by landowner Anne Prichard and Ryan and Amanda Bancroft, who run Ripples and assist with stewardship of the property.

In the afternoon, the team hiked along the ridge-line on Kessler Mountain Reserve, where they saw woodpeckers, and warblers, despite wet and foggy conditions. Finally, just before dusk, the volunteers visited Wilson Springs Preserve, where they counted hundreds of American robins as they came to roost for the night. There was a final flurry of activity from multiple sparrow species, providing a satisfying finale to a full day of birdwatching.

In all, the team counted 45 bird species across the five properties. The results of the count were compiled with the other teams at renowned ornithologist Doug James’ house, who led the first Fayetteville Christmas Bird Count in 1961. A total of 92 bird species were documented for the day!  These results will be added to the extensive Christmas Bird Count database, which has been used to document shifting habitat ranges due to changing climate conditions. It will also be used to inform management of NWALT’s properties.

Thanks to our dedicated birdwatching volunteers! If you are a birder and would like to become a biomonitoring volunteer, contact us to learn more and sign up.

NWALT Seeks Intern for Kessler Classroom

Help us expand the reach of the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom through our internship program!

The land trust is seeking an energetic and knowledgeable education intern to help us expand the Kessler Outdoor Classroom program. The intern will lead field trips for local schools and community groups, develop new exhibits, and perform regular upkeep of the facilities. The position will require 10-15 hours per week, and is offered for the Spring, Summer and Fall field trip seasons. The intern may be invited to remain for additional semesters. Applicants should have a strong interest in environmental education and an interest in working with kids. Relevant coursework in biology, environmental science or related field is preferred.

This internship is an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience in environmental education in a nonprofit setting. Internship credits may be available for college students. Read the Classroom Internship Advertisement for information about how to apply. Contact sbarrow@nwalandtrust.org or call 479-966-4666 to ask questions.

Support for this internship is provided by the Fayetteville Natural Heritage Association and the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust.

Tailgating is for the Birds

Birdwatchers Celebrate Fall Migration at Wilson Springs Preserve

With fall migration in full swing, local birdwatchers escaped the hustle and bustle of the city by attending our Big Sit at Wilson Springs Wetland Preserve. With binoculars in hand, the group explored the diversity of habitats and found many of the birds that live there, including marsh wrens, sedge wrens, swamp sparrows, blue winged teals, and many others. Birding 101 was offered to novices as an introduction to birdwatching. Between hikes, they enjoyed grilled hot dogs and beverages while relaxing with fellow birders. The event was a great way to celebrate the annual migration and experience the key habitat that is protected at Wilson Springs Preserve. Thanks to Joe Neal and Doug James for leading hikes and assisting with bird identification. Thanks also to everyone that attended!

The Big Sit is just one of many programs offered at Wilson Springs. If you’d like to learn more about upcoming programs, volunteer opportunities, and on-the-land events, contact us to join our mailing list.

Climate Resiliency In Northwest Arkansas

Protecting the Place We Call Home

Protecting land throughout Northwest Arkansas increases the climate resiliency of our region.

Climate resiliency is the ability of ecosystems to withstand the stress of changing climate conditions, such as increased temperature, extended periods of drought, and heavy precipitation events. The plants and animals found in our region are influenced by natural processes in the ecosystem – interactions between plants, animals and the environment, including pollination, seed dispersal, erosion and photosynthesis. When we experience extreme weather events, such as flooding or prolonged drought, these natural processes are disturbed. An ecosystem’s ability to bounce back from the stress caused by the disturbance determines its level of climate resiliency.

For example, heavy rainfall washes away soil and often causes trees to uproot. Or, certain animals may lose their breeding sites or food sources. Prolonged drought coupled with higher temperatures can cause plants to shrivel and die, which may lead to an inadequate food supply for wildlife. These changes stress our local habitats because plants and animals are adapted to a specific range of temperature and moisture conditions, and if habitat conditions change beyond their range, they either adapt, move to a new location, or their population decreases. If this happens, we risk losing the biodiversity that makes our region unique. Approximately 160 species found in the Ozarks occur nowhere else in the world.

Many landscape features in Northwest Arkansas display the climate resilient characteristics identified by researchers. Our limestone bedrock creates a calcium-rich soil that supports diverse plant species. Rock overhangs, bluffs, caves and north-facing slopes create habitats with lower temperatures than the surrounding area. These areas are abundant in our region and, if protected, could provide refuge for plants and animals seeking cooler temperatures.

Many of the landscape features that are important for climate resiliency throughout our region are also beloved by our families and friends. Tall bluffs create a sense of grandeur as we enjoy swimming, fishing and paddling on our rivers. Old-growth forests offer a place to sit quietly and reflect or watch the birds. Freshwater springs attract wildlife providing hunting opportunities, which in turn boosts the local economy. Saving our region’s climate resilient landscapes not only helps ensure a place for plants and animals to thrive in our region, but also preserves the majestic beauty of the place we call home.

Connecting the Community to Conservation through Art and Exploration

Since its completion in last year, the Kessler Outdoor Classroom and Nature Center has served a growing number of students from nearby communities, including all 3rd grade students from Fayetteville and Farmington school districts. The program has expanded its reach to local community kids’ programs this Summer, including field trips with the Yvonne Richardson Community Center and the Bentonville Adventure Club. All field trips are curriculum-based, interactive and offered free of charge, making them accessible for underserved school districts.

Art in Nature has been a powerful theme for field trips this Summer. By connecting nature to tangible art forms, we make difficult environmental concepts easier to understand. Our curriculum focuses on engaging all the senses. Students build structures using natural materials, and paint rocks using leaves and flowers as inspiration. On the outdoor interpretive loop trail, kids search for colors in nature, smell flowers and listen for bird songs. These small assignments widen students’ perception of nature, and hopefully plant a seed that grows our next generation of conservationists.

Thanks to our partners and volunteers that make the Kessler Outdoor Classroom possible! Contact us if you would like to support the Outdoor Classroom’s mission to raise the next generation of conservationists through research, outreach and education.