Wherever leaders come from, we need to get them, help them, and replace them when they retire.
The directors, CEOs, and senior staff conservation agencies and groups often come from the ranks of professional conservation. They arrive in leadership after spending their early careers focused on technical ecology, forestry, and other disciplines. They learn the business end usually by trial-and-error and, hopefully, from good mentors. Wisdom gained by experience can be lost to turnover when they retire.
The conservation movement is no longer leaving to chance the development of its leaders. Training academies such as the National Conservation Training Center are teaching the basics of budgeting, staff management, administration, and negotiation. Advanced programs such as the National Conservation Leadership Institute, and the Boone and Crockett Club University Programs are teaching on the wider set of challenges in this public-service profession.
Leaders in conservation have a workforce and a “customer base” – which, ultimately, is everyone in the country – who all bring some level of passion to their roles. They all are focused on something they own together. The everyday business of doing what people expect and delivering a satisfactory product can be quite complicated. There also are many ways of doing the job, some of which, like surgery and medication, can be frightening or risky and hard to explain.
Watershed Results supports professional training in leadership and active involvement of people in steering the course of conservation. The National Conservation Leadership Institute, Boone and Crockett Club University Programs and the Conservation Roundtable are among the leading programs. All are advancing the sensitivity, intuition, technical skill, and deliberations needed so that we all can get along as we work with each other to get what we want.