Meet NWALT Board Member Jenny Burbidge
Our board members are critical to the success of the Land Trust and we are thankful for their expertise and leadership! This series is all about introducing these difference -makers who are helping ensure NWA will always be defined by clean water, fresh air, native habit, a growing supply of locally grown fruits and vegetables, and access to outdoor recreation, all while expanding economic opportunities.
Get to know Jenny...
Jenny is a Licensed Landscape Architect and Arkansas native, originally from the Arkansas River Valley and has lived in Northwest Arkansas for over 10 years. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas.
How did you get involved with NWALT? Tom Oppenheim, a previous NWALT Board President and Board member, and I were previously work colleagues. He sent out an all-company email announcing NWALT hosting a “Win Win Workshop” in 2018. The workshop had topics from Landscape Architecture, Wetland Mitigation Reporting, and State Policies regarding Conservation. I immediately paid Tom a visit in his office, asking him 101 questions about NWALT. I had never heard of a land trust, and was intrigued and excited to learn more. I attended the workshop, met Terri Lane, the former Executive Director, and the rest is history!
Who are your environmental heroes? Oh wow, that’s a deep question. I’m going to go cheesy and mainstream – but Steve Irwin! He is my first memory of a conservation enthusiast that impacted my childhood. His passion for animals and their habitats was infectious and stays with me today. His influence and legacy on conservation (albeit in Australia initially) has increased overall awareness of conservation as a whole, worldwide. Local legend Roscoe Hobbs is another conservationist I admire. He donated the land responsible for Hobbs State park and Withrow Springs State Park. I live directly adjacent to Withrow, and am forever thankful for those who lived before my time, and had the vision and foresight to set land aside to be protected from development.
How do you want to impact Northwest Arkansas Land Trust? Engagement and Growth! I hope to provide the support and guidance to help NWALT have a successful connection with the community. I want more kids outside, more adults with dirty hands, more memories built with mother nature. Those memories are essential to hold yourself accountable for your own impact to the environment and be inspired to be part of group dedicated to being good stewards of our land. I want to continue to spread the word about NWALT. It’s a mission and vision that I think resonates with most Arkansans, and there’s an endless amount of folks that would enjoy being part of the NWALT family.
What may younger generations not understand about your generation’s concerns about the environment? I actually think the younger generation is more aware of environmental issues than my generation and some generations past. Political views, policies, politics in general, have more exposure and screen time than when I was a child. If anything, I think we need to be sure we use data driven information, hands-on projects, and successful solutions to keep the youth engaged in person, and not just behind a screen. Connection is key!
What generational perspectives are missing in today’s conservation movement? I think, in Arkansas, we are lacking diversity of historical users and former conservationists of this land. Native Americans have deep roots in conservation and land management skills that have historically been ignored and written out of history. Likewise, former slaves, that worked and knew the land more than the property owners, have also been skipped over in the conversation. Diversifying the voices in conservation as a whole, will bring new ideas and energy to the movement. Land is for ALL!