Conference Delivers Inspiration and Perspective

“I left feeling fully grounded and re-invigorated in this wonderful work of conservation,” concluded one of the nearly 450 attendees to MCHT’s 2014 Maine Land Conservation Conference. An annual two-day event, the conference has become a fixture on the calendar for conservation professionals and volunteers alike. This year’s installment once again informed and inspired.

The conference kicked off on Friday, April 25, with a series of workshops on such diverse topics as mobile mapping, fundraising, forest pests and pathogens, and climate change adaptation strategies. Attendees found the day’s sessions to be especially useful, including one person who appreciated, “the provocation to think about climate change in terms of not only management planning and conservation strategies, but also outreach.”

Terry Tempest Williams giving a reading at the welcome party

As Friday evening approached, it was time to relax a bit. Friends and colleagues shared stories while enjoying the pleasant sounds of Twisted Strings, a Celtic-inspired music group from Augusta, and attendees got a sneak peak of Saturday’s plenary session when Terry Tempest Williams honored them with a short reading of her work. It was the perfect prelude to the full day of activities that would soon follow.

Saturday morning arrived, with folks filing into the auditorium to hear the much anticipated keynote address. Terry Tempest Williams, award winning author and advocate, was joined on stage by long-time Maine conservationist Roger Milliken for a “Conversation between Friends.” As one audience member commented, “It was a cutting edge presentation, both in format and content. Contemplative leadership epitomized. The time is now for infusing spirit and consciousness with conservation.”

Before breaking up the full group for topically-focused workshops, we took time out to celebrate the past and ongoing accomplishments of this year’s Espy Land Heritage Award Recipient. In 2014, the award was presented to Scott Dickerson, former Executive Director of Coastal Mountains Land Trust in Camden. Scott was acknowledged for his tireless leadership in conserving the landscapes of western Penobscot Bay and beyond, his commitment to excellence, and his many contributions at the local, state and national levels that have inspired a generation of conservationists.

Scott Dickerson, winner of this year’s Espy Land Heritage Award

With attendees sufficiently inspired, the conference shifted to smaller classroom discussions and presentations. There were more than 30 informational sessions available from which to choose, such as getting families outside, controlling invasive species, and land trusts and energy, as well as roundtable discussions for peer-to-peer sharing. Throughout the day, there was also ample opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new connections, including with the more than 40 vendors who shared exhibits and informative displays at the Land Fair.

We were so glad to share this special day with all who attended, and hope you left renewed with energy and enthusiasm to continue the work that makes Maine a leader in land conservation. Hope to see you again in 2015.