On a beautiful fall evening in Madison, Wisconsin’s conservation community came together to recognize the leaders who inspire us every day at GWC’s 10th Annual Land Conservation Leadership Awards Celebration. GWC President Rita Hayen had this to say during the program’s opening remarks:
“In the conservation community success is often measured in terms of acres of land – at GWC we often tout the fact that Wisconsin’s land trusts have protected nearly 300,000 acres of land across the state. And providing land trusts with the tools required to strategically and effectively protect more acres will always be at the heart of our mission.
But the piece of our vision that we have admittedly always struggled with has been cultivating a statewide land ethic to support Wisconsin’s growing land trust community. Fortunately, tonight’s honorees have gotten a head start on their own.
What sets these leaders apart is their connection not only to the land, but to the people and institutions, the traditions and values, and the rhythms that define a community. When these connections are made an acre becomes a preserve, a ritual space, a playground, a favorite hunting spot or fishing hole, a place to come together or get away….and that land ethic is born.
Although we’ll probably always talk about our successes in terms of acres, we’ve learned from a decade of inspiring conservation leaders that these community connections are another important measure of success – and are critical to ensuring that the protection of those acres is lasting.”
The evening’s deserving honorees included:
Land Trust of the Year: River Revitalization Foundation
Policy Maker of the Year: John Koepke
Conservationist of the Year: Ellen Kwiatkowski
Rod Nilsestuen Award for Working Lands Preservation honoree: Dale Katsma
Harold “Bud” Jordahl Land Trust Pioneer Award: The Ridges Sanctuary
All photos courtesy of Althea Dotzour Photography