During the different seasons of the year, your local conservation leaders do a wide range of activities. Winter is for planning- developing projects and securing necessary support. Spring is for startup- finalizing details and logistics. Summer is the rush- working on the ground while getting people out to see and learn from what is being done. All of these tasks are important, but difficult to do without the important period of growth that occurs in the fall.
Fall growth seems like an odd phrase, but it describes a renewal of energy and increased development for conservation leaders. We take time during this season to participate in local or statewide meetings with other conservation leaders. These meetings help to lift the spirits and broaden the ideas; essentially growing the ability to effectively work in our areas.
Surrounded by our peers, we learn from their successes (and sometimes their failures), while getting a clear picture of how our local work fits into a bigger picture. We are reminded that when projects are successful in a small area, there is a ripple effect that benefits neighboring regions.
In these settings, hard work is recognized and celebrated. We talk about the projects and people in our areas that inspire us to keep going, while reminding each other that difficult situations can often have a simple answer. Education about other parts of Montana opens our eyes and our minds to the struggles that others face, while allowing for creative problem solving from a large network of supporters.
The allies in conservation efforts participate as well in these large conferences. They listen to the critical needs of the people on the ground and they provide help for better outcomes. It’s a time to give and receive honest feedback to make sure time and money is being well spent.
Nearly as important is the chance to relax and unwind. There is no better way to appreciate the people behind the work than to share funny stories while enjoying a good meal. The new generation of leaders mixes with the veterans, learning lessons and sharing young wisdom.
While there is no shortage of meetings that demand our time and energy throughout the year, there is a big difference at these larger gatherings. Coming together to network and learn are a different experience altogether, often with better results and a renewed energy to bring home to our own areas.
If you are one of these leaders- let me say “Thank You” for your commitment and dedication to your local lands and people. The work being done in this region and throughout Montana is held in high regard by many, inspiring outside our own boundaries and influencing upcoming generations. I hope to hear of your own inspirations and goals, while we make the most of our season of growth.
Sunni Heikes-Knapton, Madison Watershed Coordinator