By Ariel Rivers
As recently announced, NACD and The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation (SMGF) have renewed their ongoing partnership to deliver urban webinars and information on backyard conservation. As part of these efforts, NACD participates in SMGF’s National Partner Network (NPN), a group of 17 organizations with a shared focus on water quality and sustainability across the U.S.
“There’s a collective power that comes from bringing together these organizations,” said Carol Kauffman, corporate social responsibility manager for ScottsMiracle-Gro. “Each group is on the frontline of water stewardship issues in its community. Together, we’re able to share solutions and learn from one another, as we all work toward a clean water future.”
While the event was initially scheduled to be in-person in Galveston, Texas, the Galveston Bay Foundation still hosted the virtual partner meeting. The event started with each organization sharing one unique accomplishment and one challenge from the last year. While COVID-19 (coronavirus) dramatically affected many of the organizations, most have been extremely resilient in how they’ve approached their ongoing research, technical assistance and education programs.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) was also a common theme in many of these efforts, with partners emphasizing their new approaches in both staff training and programming in order to achieve DEI goals. Ron Rohall, chair of the Urban and Community Resource Policy Group (RPG) and Ariel Rivers, Pacific Region Representative, represented NACD, highlighting the adoption of NACD’s Board Statement on DEI, as well as the need to continue outreach to underserved populations. These are two goals that will be in part achieved through NACD’s new DEI task force, as well as the urban and community webinars supported through contributions by SMGF.
As each organization within the SMGF NPN focuses on similar issues to conservation districts, NACD’s involvement in the NPN provides an opportunity to share information and learn new approaches to outreach and technical assistance.
Throughout the day, the partners also discussed other opportunities to learn from each other, with three organizations presenting on their strategy in pivoting toward virtual programming. For example, Save the Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area is encouraging individual and socially-distanced use of local recreational opportunities to bring attention to the Bay’s ecosystem; and the Ocean Research Conservation Association in Florida launched five successful citizen science projects, which include webinars on how to participate. Many of the organizations also focused on technical assistance related to topics like septic systems (North Shore Land Alliance) and assessing water affordability and conservation opportunities in homes (Alliance for Water Efficiency).
As each organization within the SMGF NPN focuses on similar issues to conservation districts, NACD’s involvement in the NPN provides an opportunity to share information and learn new approaches to outreach and technical assistance, for example, through virtual programming.
“My big takeaway was how all the partners in the face of COVID-19 challenges remained passionate about their missions, incorporating technology and social distancing to deliver programs,” Rohall said. “Pivot and resilience were the words of the day.”
The list of participating organizations in the meeting is below. Many have ongoing activities that may be relevant for local conservation districts:
- The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation
- Galveston Bay Foundation
- Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
- Alliance for Great Lakes
- Alliance for Water Efficiency
- Council for Watershed Health
- New York League of Conservation Voters
- North Shore Land Alliance
- Ocean Research and Conservation Association
- Ohio Environmental Council
- Restore America’s Estuaries
Read more about the ongoing partnership between NACD and SMGF in the recent press release about the renewed partnership. More information is available on NACD’s Urban and Community webpage. Tune into the next Urban and Community (U&C) Conservation Webinar on October 15; these webinars are held the third Thursday of each month. For more information, contact NACD Pacific Region Representative Ariel Rivers.