4th Annual K-12 Leadership Summit
Despite the sudden onslaught of several feet of snow at the end of February, a group of 12 people from several land trusts around the country came to the Feather River region for the 4th annual K-12 Learning Landscapes Summit, hosted by FRLT. The Summit was envisioned and is led by Learning Landscapes Coordinator Rob Wade to nurture a network of K-12 outdoor education program leaders at land trusts nationwide.
FRLT’s Learning Landscapes program is designed to foster a deep connection to land among the children of the Feather River region. Our program pairs the best work of land trusts—working with landowners to protect land and natural resources—with place-based education in partnership with teachers, schools, and communities. While Learning Landscapes is deeply rooted in the Feather River watershed by design, it has become a national model and is fostering a community of land trust K-12 educators beyond the ridges of our home watershed.
Guided by Rob Wade, FRLT has supported the formation of a national Community of Practice, a type of peer-to-peer network among land trusts for K-12 outdoor education programs. This cohort of land trust folks are dedicated to raising up the next generation of earth stewards and building equitable, accessible, and community-driven programs for school-age kids where they live.
The Summit is a special opportunity for this group to gather for several days of leadership training, sharing best practices and resources, and peer-to-peer learning. Participants at the Summit become part of a cohort that continually meets over the course of the following year to support each other’s growth, learning, and accountability as a community. It serves as a working retreat, giving participants the time and space to learn, reflect, and plan for the future.
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Informed by Rob Wade’s 20+ years leading outdoor education in the Feather River watershed, the participants learn and discuss the core principles of outdoor education, mentor each other, collaborate on ideas, and develop a plan for their land trust. Topics discussed at the conference include principles and methodology, program development, the importance of fundraising and communication, and strategies for making their ideas and plans a reality once they return home.
The driving tool used at Summit is the “perpetuity map,” a tool Rob has used to guide the direction of FRLT’s Learning Landscapes program. The perpetuity map is a series of prompts that ask participants to go deeper when conceptualizing and building out their outdoor education program. The land trust members identify and fine-tune the “why,” “who”, “what,” and “where” of their program to make sure it lasts in perpetuity, even beyond the individuals that are at Summit. Building this perpetuity map can help land trusts have a concrete way of showing what their program is all about and how it will function.
Each land trust at Summit has outdoor education programs, but they range from just starting the process to expanding to multiple programs. Individuals at land trusts with more experience are able to offer guidance and mentorship to those with younger programs, and everyone is able to discuss successes, challenges, and progress in the development of their programs. The Summit provides everyone an opportunity to really know and learn from each other, and the cohort continues to meet monthly after the event, to support each other year-round.
Rob shared how this land trust approach to outdoor education programming is unique. At land trusts, perpetuity is already top of mind when these programs are conceptualized. Land trusts work to conserve land forever and at a level that has a deep, meaningful impact for the community. That longevity and drive is the same approach and intention Rob puts into this national work for outdoor education programs. He frames it as a generational approach so that these programs can last.
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Rob impressed the importance of how tailored and unique these programs are to each individual land trust. You can’t have a program without the place, and it all depends on what each specific community needs as well as the capacity of each land trust. As a group, the participants learn how to break down these ideas and tools—that may initially seem daunting—into daily actionable tasks that can bring a program step by step into fruition.
“It’s nice to be around people who do something similar. It’s a highly niche field,” said Nadia Van Lynn of the Northcoast Regional Land Trust.
Participating Land Trusts
Feather River Land Trust, CA
Solano Land Trust, CA
Columbia Land Conservancy, NY
Coastal Mountains Land Trust, ME
San Juan Preservation Trust, WA
Black Swamp Conservancy, OH
Northcoast Regional Land Trust, CA
Elkhorn Slough Foundation, CA
Mojave Desert Land Trust, CA
Little Traverse Conservancy, MI
Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, ME
Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, FL
It's been a busy year for Feather River region's mountain kids—connecting to nature through Learning Landscapes, field trips, and land stewardship.
Take a look back at 2022 with us and celebrate the successes made possible by our supporters. It was a fulfilling year of community, collaboration, and conservation success!
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