Gus Seelig has served as the Executive Director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board since its inception in 1987. Under his leadership, VHCB has invested $310 million in state funding to develop or rehabilitate more than 12,500 affordable homes, to conserve 700 farms encompassing 160,000 acres and 265,000 acres of natural areas and recreational and forest lands and supported restoration of over 60 historic buildings for community use. VHCB’s partners have leveraged this investment, raising $1.3 billion for these projects. A central part of the Boards mission has been to support the building of capacity by non profits to both develop projects and steward resources.
||Stream, River & Bay-Friendly Homes: Working with Communities to Install Residential Scale Green Infrastructure
||Partnering with Environmental Organizations and Schools
||Raising Major Gifts
||Sacred Waters, Honoring the Gifts an Indigenous Perspective
||Board Boot Camp 101: Board Member Roles & Responsibilities
||Connect with Your Audiences Through Effective Messaging
||Siting Renewable Energy: Strategies for Balancing Land Protection with Meeting Aggressive Carbon Reduction Goals
||Understanding the Complexities of Renewable Energy in Rhode Island
||Invasive Species: What Do We Do and How?
||Working with Landowners and Third Parties to Prevent Future Problems
||Current Issues for Municipal Land Trusts & Conservation Commissions
1-A. Stream, River & Bay-Friendly Homes: Working with Communities to Install Residential Scale Green Infrastructure
Alicia Lehrer - Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
Sara Churgin - Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District
Bob McMahon - Formerly Providence Parks
Stormwater management can begin at home with rain barrels, rain gardens, permeable pavement and other strategies. The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council developed successful strategies for engaging homeowners in stormwater management which are being replicated in communities on Aquidneck Island by the Eastern RI Conservation District. Homeowner and community interest is building throughout the state. Workshop participants will learn how they can help their own communities get started and build on the home stormwater retrofit movement.
1-B. Partnering with Environmental Organizations and Schools
April Alix - Providence Parks Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership
Rachel Holbert - Norman Bird Sanctuary
Kassi Archambault - Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council
Learn how your organization can effectively partner with environmental educators and schools to ensure long-term programming that strengthens your message and reach. Three environmental educators will share how they have engaged schools and teachers from multiple districts, and their "tips and tricks" for building teacher confidence in leading walks outdoors. Presenters will discuss successful partnerships and delve into specific examples of how collaboration brought about stronger programming for all.
1-C. Raising Major Gifts
Sarah Shrewsbury - Vineyard Consulting
Need to raise major gifts for the gorgeous parcel you want to preserve or an important project? In this presentation, you will learn how to identify, cultivate, solicit, close and steward major gift donors. We will also cover suggested language to use when asking for an appointment, for a gift, as well as responding to a variety of donor responses. You will learn what motivates donors to make major gifts, how to approach family foundations, the importance of bequests.
1-D. Sacred Waters, Honoring the Gifts an Indigenous Perspective
Loren Spears - Tomaquag Museum
Loren, a Narragansett Tribal member will share the cultural, spiritual, environmental, historical and contemporary uses of local waterways. She will illustrate the changes in the landscape and uses over time, as well as the impact on the people.
1-E. Board Boot Camp 101: Board Member Roles & Responsibilities
Jill Pfitzenmayer - The Rhode Island Foundation
A nonprofit board of directors is responsible for defining the organization's mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. This workshop will offer new and experienced board members with an overview of the governance, finance, fundraising and planning roles which lead to an effective board of directors. Participants will leave with tools and templates to improve the function and effectiveness of their board.
1-F. Connect with Your Audiences Through Effective Messaging
Jennifer West - Narragansett Bay Research Reserve
We all want the ability to develop and express strong messages that are heard and acted upon by our audiences. This session will provide tips, tricks, and insights on how to craft messages and tell stories that are clear and compelling. Whether you're training volunteers or preparing articles for your newsletter, this session will help strengthen your communication skills and ability to hone messaging that truly engage your audiences' hearts and minds.
1-G. Siting Renewable Energy: Strategies for Balancing Land Protection with Meeting Aggressive Carbon Reduction Goals
Scott Millar - Grow Smart Rhode Island
Erika Niedowski - Acadia Center
Rhode Island has ambitious and worthy goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Expanding renewable energy is critical to meeting these goals. This workshop will review what Rhode Island and other states are doing to expand renewable energy development while reducing impacts to farm and forestland. Attendees will hear about legislation in play in 2018 and engage in discussions of strategies for increasing incentives for siting renewable projects on brownfields, landfills, rooftops and other developed sites.
1-H. Understanding the Complexities of Renewable Energy in Rhode Island
Jerry Elmer - Conservation Law Foundation
Expanding renewable energy is critical to Rhode Island's climate mitigation strategies. Energy policy has its own language and programs - distributed generation, net metering, renewable energy fund, PACE, EERMC, PUC. This workshop will decode energy policy and renewable energy programs and highlight priorities for moving the effort forward in 2018.
1-I. Invasive Species: What Do We Do and How?
Carol Lynn Trocki - Conservation Consultant, Mosaic Land Management LLC & RI Land Trust Council
David Gregg - Rhode Island Natural History Survey
What makes a species invasive and why does that matter? We know they are a problem, but our time and money is limited, where do we even start? In this workshop we will explore the way we frame our approach to managing invasive species in the landscape, and discuss realistic strategies given competing interests and limited resources. We will focus on invasive plant species in particular, but many of the concepts apply to animals as well. Time will be allocated for sharing what's worked and what hasn't. Our goal is that you leave feeling empowered, rather than overwhelmed, by this daunting issue.
1-J. Working with Landowners and Third Parties to Prevent Future Problems
Alex Chuman - Aquidneck Land Trust
Proactively communicating now with landowners of your land trust's conservation easements can help save a lot of time and money on violations and enforcement later. Topics for this session will include developing relationships with existing landowners of conservation easements, dealing with successor landowners, and strategies to address third party encroachment/trespass from neighbors. We will use examples from Aquidneck Land Trust and hope to hear other strategies that have or haven't worked from attendees.
1-K. Current Issues for Municipal Land Trusts & Conservation Commissions
Gregory S. Schultz - RI Attorney General Office
Roy Najecki - Glocester Land Trust
Barbara Rich - Smithfield Land Trust
When Municipal land trusts and conservation commissions protect and steward land, they must deal with different legal requirements and situations than non-profit land trusts. This workshop will discuss key legal aspects of this work for municipal organizations including: How do deal with Rhode Island's open meeting law and negotiate land conservation deals? How do you use Executive Sessions? How do you deal with requests for public records? What can you do to ensure the lands that you protect remain protected and are not used for other purposes in the future? Beyond legal issues, the workshop will discuss: How do you maintain good relations with the Town Council? How do you manage finances? What is the best way to contract with consultants? Join this discussion with your peers from municipal land trusts. Ask your questions and share your land trust's strategies for success.
||Designing "Maintainable" Green Infrastructure
||Leading Age Appropriate Outdoor Experiences for Children of All Ages
||How to Write Killer Fundraising Letters
||Engaging Community through Pollinator Conservation
||Board Boot Camp 201: Core Functions of a Land Trust
||Expanding Your Reach and Impact Through Social Media Strategies
||Understanding DEM's Wetland Regulations and Permitting Best Practices
||RI's Climate Resilience Action Strategy: Update & Next Steps
||The Rhode Island Bird Atlas 2.0: A Conservation Tool for Land Managers
||Where am I anyway? Map-reading & Orienting in the Field
||Getting the Right Value! Appraisals for Land Conservation
2-A. Designing "Maintainable" Green Infrastructure
Brian Byrnes - City of Providence
Steve Ricci - Groundwork Rhode Island
Proper maintenance of stormwater retrofits follows smart and well thought out design and construction. By designing and constructing 'maintainable' and sustainable stormwater best management practices (BMP's) we can insure that the BMP is working and providing the desired result. This workshop will focus on both small and large green infrastructure BMPs and will review how to improve maintenance through smart and inclusive designs. Participants will also learn how to plan and budget for successful maintenance throughout the year.
2-B. Leading Age Appropriate Outdoor Experiences for Children of All Ages
Andrea Stein - Roger Williams Park Zoo
How do we make science and the outdoors accessible to children of all ages? This workshop will explore interpreting science across ages and (developmental) stages from preschool to high school. Participants will learn how to meet visitors where they are both as individuals and as a group to promote optimal learning and development.
2-C. How to Write Killer Fundraising Letters
David Allen - Consultant - Development for Conservation
Writing appeal letters that raise money is not hard. Writing appeal letters that raise a lot more money takes work. This workshop will explore the science of what works and why when writing appeal letters. The science may be hard to believe but the steps are easy to implement. If you follow them, your appeal letters will raise more money for your organization. These letters are better thought of as technical writing than as correspondence. And just like writing skills for many other technical purposes, there is a science to it. This workshop will explore how to start thinking about how to approach writing appeal letters that raise money and how to edit them so that they raise more.
2-D. Engaging Community through Pollinator Conservation
Vanessa Venturini - Master Gardener Program/URI Cooperative Extension
Johanna Vietry - Master Gardener & Friends of the Waterfront
Looking to raise awareness and increase participation in your work? Pollinator conservation projects serve as mechanisms to engage citizens in land stewardship on a residential scale. Learn basic principles of plant selection, garden design and pest control to provide food, cover and nesting sites for native pollinators. We will highlight pollinator education resources, successful demonstration projects in Rhode Island and opportunities to partner with URI Extension Master Gardeners to change behavior in your community.
2-E. Board Boot Camp 201: Core Functions of a Land Trust
Kevin Case - Land Trust Alliance
Chuck Toal - Connecticut Land Conservation Council & Avalonia Land Trust
Sheila Mackintosh - Sakonnet Preservation Association
Running a land trust is complex and unique in the non-profit community, not just because we make a promise of perpetuity with each conservation easement. This workshop provides new board members with an overview of technical aspects of land protection and stewardship for both conservation easements and fee owned land. Experienced board members will learn about new trends and techniques. The workshop will cover the nuts and bolts of land protection and stewardship and discuss everything from the process of evaluating conservation projects to responding to potential violations. This workshop complements Board Boot Camp 101 on Board Member Roles & Responsibilities and Board Boot Camp 301 on Board Culture and Keeping the Board Engaged.
2-F. Expanding Your Reach and Impact Through Social Media Strategies
Sarah Dell - Advocacy Solutions
The world of social media has expanded rapidly, with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now commonly serving as the initial point of contact (or first impression) between organizations and their potential supporters, donors, and wider-communities. With many non-profit organizations often facing budget and capacity constraints, diving into the social media world may seem unrealistic. If you or your organization is considering adding or bolstering its social media presence, this workshop will provide you with some simple tips and recommendations to consider before you digitally connect with your audiences.
2-G. Understanding DEM's Wetland Regulations and Permitting Best Practices
Chuck Horbert - Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management
Organizations advocating for land and watershed protection need a thorough understanding of DEM's wetland program. This workshop will provide an overview of the state's wetland regulations with an emphasis on best practices when working near wetlands, focusing on requirements for trails through wetlands as well as structures in or near wetland. Participants will gain insight on how to better monitor wetland activities and will improve their understanding of special provisions for agriculture and other interests.
2-H. RI's Climate Resilience Action Strategy: Update & Next Steps
Shaun O'Rourke - Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank
In September 2017, Governor Raimondo signed an Executive Order to launch a Statewide Climate Resilience Action Strategy. The strategy will identify and prioritize climate resiliency actions across the state, both in government and in collaboration with business, academic and nonprofit partners to better prepare Rhode Island for a changing climate. This workshop will provide an overview of the strategy development and will highlight opportunities for conservation organizations to participate and lead local implementation efforts.
2-I. The Rhode Island Bird Atlas 2.0: A Conservation Tool for Land Managers
Jay Osenkowski - RI Dept. of Environmental Management
Peter Paton, PhD - University of Rhode Island
Charles Clarkson, PhD - RI Dept. of Environmental Management & University of Rhode Island
Bird Atlases provide data on the distribution, abundance and long-term change of bird populations within a state. Birds are effective indicators of environmental change and atlases are often employed by conservation agencies to inform land management strategies. The Rhode Island Bird Atlas is unique in that it is the first atlas to survey year-round use of habitats by birds. The collected data on the use of Rhode Island habitats by breeding, wintering and migrating birds allows scientists to model the importance of these habitat types on an annual basis. This workshop will review the current bird atlas, discuss the important conservation tools stemming from its completion and make recommendations on how conservation groups can utilize the atlas for targeted land management.
2-J. Where am I anyway? Map-reading & Orienting in the Field
Carol Lynn Trocki - Conservation Consultant, Mosaic Land Management LLC & RI Land Trust Council
Charles Allott, Esq. - Aquidneck Land Trust
Alex Chuman - Aquidneck Land Trust
Have you ever gone out to visit a property, gotten turned around in the woods, and realized - I have absolutely no idea where I am? Well... so have we! Come learn from the experts. Alex and Carol will share their tips and tricks for navigating in the field using aerial photo maps, a mobile device/smartphone, and (maybe?) a compass. Chuck will offer advice on reading survey plans and interpreting legal descriptions. Our focus will be directed at boundary interpretation and field navigation accessible to all, without the need for specialized software or technology.
2-K. Getting the Right Value! Appraisals for Land Conservation
Jenny K. Flanagan - Keystone Consulting Group
Come with your appraisal questions! To get things started, we'll go over the seven items an appraiser needs to know to begin an appraisal assignment. Terms like "before and after appraisal" and "enhancement," and difference between market value and conservation value will be discussed. We'll also examine how various regulations for state and federal grants and for charitable donations impact what goes into the appraisal report ... and even what property is valued! Then we'll offer a case study of one property that was valued four times over the conservation process. This will offer some guidance for what to look for in an appraisal report. Finally, we'll open up the discussion and answer any questions you have about conservation valuation, appraisal regulations and how to find the right appraiser for the job.
||Creating Rhode Island's First Wild & Scenic River - the Wood Pawcatuck Study
||Leading Engaging Walks
||Segmenting Your Approach to Donors for Better Results
||Putting Together a Land Conservation Deal
||Board Boot Camp 301: Board Culture and Keeping the Board Engaged
||Resilience Tools for Communities: PREP-RI, STORMTOOLS & more
||Land Use and Advocacy 101
||Manage Forests while Mitigating Climate Change
||Creating and Maintaining Woodland Trails
||Protecting Riparian Corridor Connectivity using Wetland Reserve Easements
3-A. Creating Rhode Island's First Wild & Scenic River - the Wood Pawcatuck Study
Denise Poyer - Wood Pawcatuck Watershed Association
Since 2010 the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association and its partners have been working to get national recognition of the Outstandingly Remarkable Values of seven rivers in southeastern New England - the Beaver, Chipuxet, Green Falls, Pawcatuck, Queen, Shunock, and Wood Rivers. This session will review the Wild & Scenic process, highlighting the key findings and exploring how communities throughout the watershed can benefit from the designation.
3-B. Leading Engaging Walks
Wendy Fachon - Rhode Island Netwalking
Designing, promoting, and facilitating successful walking events require thoughtful planning, effective marketing, and focusing the walk around an engaging activity and/or topic suited to your audience. Environmental educator and founder of Rhode Island Netwalking, Wendy Fachon has organized and led school enrichment field trips, after-school walking clubs, summer-school environmental education programs, and vacation week family adventures. She will provide a list of ideas and guide participants in planning around their own event ideas, objectives, and organizational needs.
3-C. Segmenting Your Approach to Donors for Better Results
David Allen - Consultant - Development for Conservation
Segmenting is something we do intuitively. We don't send grant requests to individuals. We don't send special appeal letters to the US Fish & Wildlife Service. And we don't send renewal notices to people who have never given money. Organizations segment their donors because the approach to each segment should be different. Organizations segment their donors in planning to make those differences intentional.
As conservation organizations grow, they become increasingly sophisticated in this segmentation, commonly by separating out "major donors" first. More established organizations might segment by giving potential, geography, interest, or currency (how recently they may have given). This workshop will explore how to start thinking about segmenting your approach to donors to get better results and raise more money.
3-D. Putting Together a Land Conservation Deal
Reggie Hall - The Conservation Fund
This introductory overview workshop will explore real estate transactions from the initial conversation with a landowner to the party celebrating the completion of the project. Emphasis will be on exploring best practices in the field while connecting the steps of sound real estate transactions as highlighted by LTA's Standards & Practices.
3-E. Board Boot Camp 301: Board Culture and Keeping the Board Engaged
Abigail Brooks - Sakonnet Preservation Association
Chuck Allott - Aquidneck Land Trust
Land trusts of every shape and size face the challenge of building an effective and engaged board of directors. It can be difficult to resist the temptation to take another "warm body" when filling an open board seat but the benefits of being thoughtful about board recruitment, orientation and evaluation are worth the effort. This workshop will share tools, resources and ideas to engage and support a positive board culture. This information will be useful to Board Members of any conservation organization.
3-F. Resilience Tools for Communities: PREP-RI, STORMTOOLS & more
Pam Rubinoff - URI Coastal Resources Center/RI Sea Grant
Teresa Crean - Narragansett Bay Research Reserve
Michael DeLuca - Town of Narragansett
This workshop provides an overview of the PREP-RI (Providing Resilience Education for Planning in Rhode Island) online training and mapping tools developed to increase the capacity of municipal decision makers to make effective choices supporting resilience to the impacts from flooding, sea level rise and erosion. Considering current and future impacts helps shape decisions that enhance the health, safety, and welfare of Rhode Island's communities. Attendees will be introduced to the suite of tools with local case studies illustrating how the information is being put to use in Rhode Island municipalities.
3-G. Land Use and Advocacy 101
Maria Mack - South Kingstown Planning Board
Nancy Letendre - Town of Westerly Planning & Zoning Board Solicitor
Are you frustrated by a loss of 'sense of place' and quality of life in your community? Do you worry that suburban sprawl is encroaching upon your town? Is it possible to help shape policy that will preserve the special places and natural resources in your town? Yes! Come to this session to learn how to make a difference at the local and State level.
3-H. Manage Forests while Mitigating Climate Change
Paul Dolan - RC&D & RI Conservation Districts
Scott Millar - Grow Smart RI & RI Conservation Districts
Large landowners have an important role in mitigating climate change. This workshop will share strategies for reforestation, avoiding forest loss and best practices for improved forest management. Well managed Rhode Island forests could cost-effectively remove 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2030.
3-I. Creating and Maintaining Woodland Trails
Garry Plunkett - Tiverton Open Space Commission
Woodland trails should offer visitors an authentic nature experience while protecting the ecosystem that has been preserved. Designing, building, then maintain trails that accomplish this goal must often be done with limited resources. This workshop will share lessons learned - both mistakes and successes - from 25 years of trails development and stewardship with the Tiverton Open Space Commission and Tiverton Land Trust. The workshop will include principles of trail design and construction, signage, ongoing maintenance, and working with volunteers.
3-J. Protecting Riparian Corridor Connectivity using Wetland Reserve Easements
Brunilda Velez - Natural Resource Conservation Service
Joe Bachand - Natural Resource Conservation Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service will provide an overview of how to use the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program Wetland Reserve Easements to create protected riparian corridors that benefit wildlife and wildlife movement. The Wetland Reserve Easements are used on private lands to protect and restore wetlands.