Audubon/Toyota Alliance Empowers 40 Conservation Leaders - NBC New York

Audubon/Toyota Alliance Empowers 40 Conservation Leaders



    NEW YORK, New York, November 21, 2008 (ENS) - Conflicts between conservationists and others in their communities inevitably arise - Curt Gervich of Viginia Tech has developed ways to help conflicting parties reach agreement. As one of the first 40 TogetherGreen Fellows, Gervich will receive $10,000 to create a conflict management workshop and guidebook for conservation networks.

    The National Audubon Society and Toyota launched the five-year TogetherGreen initiative earlier this year to fund conservation projects, train environmental leaders, and offer volunteer and individual action opportunities that benefit the environment.

    Gervich is already building consensus between industry leaders, elected officials, and conservationists around solutions for the knotty problems of Appalachia.

    "I think that without an understanding of the ways that human communities interact with the natural world, the efforts of conservationists to protect natural resources will be, at their best, inefficient, and at their worst, irresponsible," he said.

    Each of the new Fellows will receive $10,000 as well as specialized training in conservation planning and execution, the chance to work with experienced environmental professionals, and assistance with project outreach and evaluation.

    Half of the Fellows were selected from within Audubon's network of nearly 500 local chapters, centers and state organizations. The rest earned their credentials with other groups that help to broaden the reach of TogetherGreen conservation efforts.

    "Each of our TogetherGreen Fellows demonstrates exceptional environmental understanding and commitment, combined with tremendous potential to inspire and lead others," said Audubon President John Flicker. "They are the talented leadership the environmental community will need to tackle the huge challenges and opportunities confronting us now and in the years to come. These are amazing people who can help us all shape a better future."

    Recipients include professors and Ph.D. candidates, an artist, ecologists, professional conservation practitioners and representatives of community organizations in all part of the country.

    Biologist Barbara Charry of the Maine Audubon Society realizes that while roads account for only two percent of the national landscape, they account for 20 percent of the negative impact to wildlife and habitat.

    As a TogetherGreen Fellow, Charry will help communities and local governments include conservation decisions in the land-use planning process to keep animals and birds from dying on the road. She will be able to utilize Maine Audubon's involvement as co-leader of the state-wide Beginning With Habitat program.

    As director of the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center outside Lincoln, Nebraska, Marian Langan will use her resources as a TogtherGreen Fellow to engage the faith-based groups that wield a strong influence in Nebraskan communities.

    Langan feels that the potentialy powerful overlap between conservationists' goals for a healthy planet and the goals of many people of faith for a healthy, just humanity, has not been fully explored. She intends to foster and direct that strength toward the conservation of native tallgrass prairies.

    Tony DeFalco of Portland, Oregon works as coordinator for the Young Environmental Professionals of Color and as Sustainability Manager for the Trust for Public Land's Tribal and Native Lands Program, helping to conserve land and revitalize Native American communities.

    Selected as one of the 40 new TogetherGreen Fellows, DeFalco will address both poverty and climate change by creating a non-profit social enterprise organization that hires, trains and employs low-income Latinos and Native Americans in Portland in an area of the green energy sector.

    The TogetherGreen Fellows program is rooted in the Toyota corporation's emphasis on the importance of environmental conservation.

    "Toyota believes in the power of grassroots efforts to develop the environmental leaders of tomorrow," declared Patricia Salas Pineda, group vice president, Toyota Motor North America. "These 40 TogetherGreen Fellows will receive invaluable training for the future while immediately making a difference today with on-the-ground community projects."

    {Photo: Mountaintop removal coal mine site in the mountains of Appalachia (Photo by J.W. Randolph)}

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