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NCF #FutureFocused Q&A with Phil Campbell

Phil Campbell, a 2020 Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) Cohort Member, grew up in Spencer, Okla. After serving in the Air Force for 30 years, Campbell began farming with his family in Luther, Okla.

On their operation, the family raises angus beef. They also have an orchard and garden operation and sell their produce at the local farmers market.

Campbell recently spoke with NACD about NCF and NACD, their goals and their legacy. Below are some of his answers.


Why is supporting NACD important to you?

NACD is at the forefront of taking on the issues that are communicated at the local level and putting it on a national platform. When there are voices behind a concern, and numbers to support those voices behind that concern, then people really listen. On that national stage, you really get the big picture of, “We’re concerned about these resources, and in numbers, we will address them.” That’s the piece that NACD really does well.

How did you hear about the National Conservation Foundation (NCF)?

I heard about NCF at a national meeting. That’s when I learned that one of the strong points was about educating leaders. I said, “Well hey, I want to be a part of that!” In my opinion, that’s how you develop the leaders of the future. You take those individuals that share that same mindset, and you cultivate leadership skills and develop them into those future leaders. There are leaders across the U.S. that have that potential – they just have to be willing to take it to that next level.

Why is supporting NCF important to you?

Supporting NCF as an organization is the key to their success. If they don’t receive the resources or the commitment from those that would support it, we have the potential of stepping back, as opposed to moving forward. With support from various entities, we are able to move and carry that message a lot further, faster and ultimately, we have an even greater impact. I would highly recommend that everyone support NCF.

Why is diversity important in conservation?

I believe that if you have more individuals at the table, your blind spots are eliminated. It goes beyond your race, ethnicity and background – it goes to those jobs that you actually pursue or those careers that you make. Who would have ever thought that a guy who spent 30 years in the Air Force would be at the table talking conservation? You would think that those things don’t go together, but they really do.

“Conservation touches every life no matter where you are, so with diversity, you eliminate blind spots and increase your potential for success.”

In your words, what is the purpose of the Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI)? 

NGLI’s focus is to grow leaders that are going to be there tomorrow in key positions to carry forward the conservation message. I think that the cohort is a group of the very best members across the country, and we will be those leaders carrying the conservation message forward tomorrow.

Give me your thoughts on the next generation of conservation leaders and why it’s important that we support them.

Focusing on the individuals that participate in Envirothon is key, because you ultimately capture those young people at an early age. A lot of those folks will go on and carry that conservation mindset through college. Some may or may not end up in jobs or positions that are in an ag or conservation background, but they still carry that message of conserving natural resources. Some of them will end up in ag and conservation jobs, so they will carry that background in that capacity as well. So, I think that it’s a win-win situation.

You’ll find that there are mature individuals, like me, that are eager, willing and able to carry that message forward as well. I don’t think that there is anybody out there that would not be concerned with our natural resources and their depletion. It’s just that some of us have a little more time, a little more energy, and carry a little more effort to take it to the next level. NCF provides you with training, background and enthusiasm that you will carry forward to that next level.

Why should emerging leaders choose to dedicate time to conservation?

I think that individuals should dedicate their time, energy and efforts to conservation for the simple fact that it impacts everyone and everything that you do. There is not a component or facet of life that is not affected by conservation, as well as our natural resources. Everyone needs water, preferably clean water, and we all need healthy soil, because it’s those healthy soils that ultimately feed us. It doesn’t matter what you eat, what you wear, or where you are from, everything comes from the soil.

Why should individuals donate to this campaign?

There are a lot of things that we can spend our resources on. If you’re going to make a sacrifice, and you want that sacrifice to have a greater impact, there’s no better entity than NCF to make that sacrifice and to put those contributions toward.

“If we’re not pouring into individuals today and preparing them for tomorrow, we are already behind the power curve. NCF takes on that responsibility of educating individuals through Envirothon and NGLI, preparing those leaders for the challenges of tomorrow.”


Please help support conservation leaders like Phil by donating to the #FutureFocused campaign! As we prepare for a new 2021 NGLI cohort and the rescheduled 2021 NCF-Envirothon competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, set to be held in July 2021, your financial support is needed to help keep these programs moving forward.

Every contribution matters, and your support will be matched dollar-for-dollar throughout the campaign.

Tags: NCF, #FutureFocused

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