LEAPing into 2013

Land trusts are impacting communities through our signature program!

For those of you not involved in land trust work day-to-day, it can be tough to stay on top of the lingo and acronyms.  LEAP, or Wisconsin’s Land Trust Excellence & Advancement Program, is GWC’s signature program to deliver services to land trusts to help ensure their sustainability, effectiveness, and credibility.

We launched the program in 2011 in partnership with the Land Trust Alliance to address the growing challenges faced by our maturing land trust community.  Through small grants, customized support, trainings, and mentoring, we’re building land trusts’ capacity to continue to steward and protect the forests, farms, trails, rivers, and urban green spaces across Wisconsin.

We’re two years in to LEAP and already starting to see local, on-the-ground impact of this program.  Here’s one inspiring example…

With support from LEAP, the Driftless Area Land Conservancy is inspiring a lifelong love of nature through storytelling.

It is well documented that today’s youth are more disconnected from nature than ever before - a trend that more than one local land trust is working to reverse.  

Driftless Area Land Conservancy (DALC) is a small, yet powerful land trust working to protect the rugged beauty and ancient geology of southwest Wisconsin’s driftless area.  As a 2012 recipient of a special services grant through LEAP, DALC received support to enhance their work connecting local children to the special, natural places in their backyards.

For the younger set (ages 2 - 5), DALC is partnering with the local library on a nature and farm-based storytelling program to inspire a lifelong love of the land.  Kids ages 6 -11 have the opportunity to  experience nature, join in outdoor activities, and reflect on the natural world through the Driftless Explorers Club.

DALC is growing the next generation of conservation leaders in southwest Wisconsin and instilling in them the gift of a lifelong relationship with the land.  Thank you, DALC!

This is just one example of the myriad impacts that land trust are having on communities across the state — and we’re here to help enhance that impact.  Through LEAP, we’re proud to report that we’ve offered customized, one-on-one support to 34% of Wisconsin land trusts. In addition, we’ve:

  • Coached 750 land trust staff and board members through trainings, workshops, one-on-one assistance, and virtual learning opportunities.
  • Helped increase the number of nationally accredited land trusts in Wisconsin from one to six (while also helping several more in process).
  • Provided direct grants to land trusts to help them hire their first staff, improve outreach techniques to the community, or acquire valuable leadership development training.

GWC is currently accepting applications for a new set LEAP Standards & Practices grants.  Stay tuned for a forthcoming announcement of the land trusts joining the program in 2013!